NY Jets: 3 players primed for a bounce back season in 2020
By Justin Fried
The NY Jets have a number of players on the roster searching for bounce-back seasons in 2020.
The NY Jets saw the rise of a number of unexpected contributors in 2019. Players like Folorunso Fatukasi, Blessuan Austin, and Brian Poole proved to be some of the most notable surprises in what was a rollercoaster season for Gang Green.
But just as the team saw a few surprise standouts, they also saw their fair share of duds.
Be it because of injuries or other factors, certain players just didn’t live up to expectations in 2019. And in a way, that’s somewhat of a microcosm of the Jets’ season as a whole.
The team entered the year with plenty of hype and they had their sites set on a possible playoff run. But after a dreadful 1-7 start, all hopes of a postseason appearance had disappeared.
Injuries played a huge role in the Jets’ early-season struggles. But for the sake of this list, we won’t be including players who missed all or most of last season with an injury.
Perhaps that could be a separate list.
That means players like C.J. Mosley and Chris Herndon — who undoubtedly could be in-line for bounce-back seasons — will be excluded.
Instead, we’ll be focusing on three players who struggled in 2019 for one reason or another, but could be set for a much more productive season in 2020.
Let’s take a look at the three players who fit that bill.
Next: 3. Henry Anderson
3. NY Jets’ defensive end Henry Anderson is primed to bounce back
The acquisition of Henry Anderson on Day 3 of the 2018 NFL Draft proved to be one of the crowning achievements of former general manager Mike Maccagnan’s tenure with the Jets.
The former Stanford star would put together a career season in his first year with the Jets totaling seven sacks and 16 additional QB hits — more than doubling his highest single-season total in either statistic.
However, the contract that Maccagnan handed to him after just one season of production might go down as one of his worst moves.
Anderson is set to play in 2020 in the second year of a three-year, $25.2 million contract he signed back in the 2019 offseason. Unfortunately, his play last season hardly warranted that deal.
Anderson managed just one sack in 13 games while his Pro Football Focus grade tanked to a disastrous 55.8. Out of 118 qualified interior defensive linemen, he ranked 100th.
But context is important here. Anderson actually played the majority of the season with an AC joint sprain in his shoulder severely limiting his effectiveness. The 28-year-old has struggled with injuries for the majority of his career and last year was no exception.
We saw what he could be when healthy in 2018. And if he can stay healthy this season, there’s no reason why we can’t see the 2018 version of Anderson once again.
Next: 2. Pierre Desir
2. NY Jets’ cornerback Pierre Desir is primed to bounce back
Pierre Desir was one of the most pleasant surprises in a young Indianapolis Colts secondary in 2018. A waiver claim the year prior, Desir managed to assume a full-time starting role in 2018 and put together the best year of his career.
The Lindenwood product finished with an excellent 77.7 PFF grade which ranked him as the 17th best cornerback in the NFL. Hopes were high for Desir going into 2019, but he followed up his career-best year with a major dud of a season.
Desir finished with a lackluster 58.8 PFF grade ranking him as the No. 77 cornerback in the NFL out of 115 qualifiers — quite the drop-off from his standout 2018 season.
But much like Anderson, his ineffectiveness could be explained by injury.
Desir played through nearly the entire season with a nagging hamstring injury missing four games but feeling the impact of the injury for a much longer period of time. He detailed his struggles in an interview with Randy Lange of NYJets.com after signing with the team.
“I was dealing with a hamstring injury and missed a couple of games, so that kind of put me down a little bit throughout the year. But this is a business, you’re only as good as your last performance. And I think I showed that I could still compete at a high level.”
Now given a full offseason to rehab, Desir will be tasked with being the Jets’ No. 1 cornerback entering the 2020 season. That’s a greater responsibility than he’s ever been entrusted with, but if the Jets get the 2018 version of Desir, they’ll be more than pleased with the results.
A quick honorable mention should also go out to fellow former Colts cornerback Quincy Wilson who could bounce back in 2020 as well. Now back in a press-man scheme under Gregg Williams, look for Wilson to flash the potential he once showed as a second-round pick back in 2017.
Don’t be shocked if both Desir and Wilson put together much better 2020 campaigns than they did the year prior.
Next: 1. Le'Veon Bell
1. NY Jets’ running back Le’Veon Bell is primed to bounce back
This is the one that everyone is hoping for. We all want Le’Veon Bell to be Le’Veon Bell again. But just how likely is it?
It’s safe to say that even the most optimistic of Jets fans have tempered their enthusiasm just a little regarding Bell in 2020. After all, the three-time Pro Bowler rushed for 789 yards on an abysmal 3.2 yards per carry last season.
Expecting to see the return of the All-Pro running back may be a little too optimistic. But that doesn’t mean that Bell won’t bounce back this season.
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The Jets overhauled their offensive line in the offseason and are very likely to feature a completely different starting lineup than they did in Week 1 of last year. Change doesn’t always equate to improvement, but the Jets will surely be hoping it does in their case.
For the sake of Bell, no addition will be more important than rookie left tackle Mekhi Becton. Becton is still a work in progress as a pass protector, but there’s a chance he’s already the team’s best run-blocker from day one.
Throw in the likes of Connor McGovern and Greg Van Roten and there’s reason to believe the Jets’ offensive line will perform better in 2020. At the same time, head coach Adam Gase must do a better job of highlighting Bell’s many strengths and getting him involved in the passing game.
And we’re not just taking check-downs and dumb-offs. We’re talking designed plays to get Bell the ball in space — perhaps even by lining him up in the slot more often.
Bell still has the talent to be a top-10 running back in the NFL. He just needs some help.
And if he gets that help, expect Bell to remind the rest of the football world just how incredible he is.