The NY Jets were ravaged by injuries in 2020 and need these four players to stay healthy.
The NY Jets suffered through what was, let’s call it an “eventful” season last year. From their disastrous 1-7 start to a number of embarrassing controversies surrounding the team, 2019 was a year that most probably wanted to forget.
But then there was the 6-2 finish and some strong play from quarterback Sam Darnold down the stretch that dragged us back in. In essence, there is no better way to describe the Jets as a franchise than that.
Regardless, it’s safe to say that their lives would have been a lot easier had they not suffered the extensive list of injuries that they did. From countless key defensive players to a few notable names on offense, few teams had it worse than the Jets did.
That’s why going into 2020, there is little that is more important to the team than the health of its players. And for some of those players, their health remains more crucial to their success than others.
Being labeled as “injury-prone” in the NFL could be a death sentence for some. In a league that’s built on taking advantage of every opportunity you’re given, it can be extremely difficult to find success if you can’t stay on the field.
And for these four players, they must prove that they can stay healthy for a full 16-game season in 2020.
With that, let’s take a look at four players whose future with the Jets hinges on their health this season.
Next: 4. C.J. Mosley
4. C.J. Mosley, LB, NY Jets
The Jets went big in free agency last offseason not only making a splash on offense with the signing of Le’Veon Bell, but on defense as well.
Four-time Pro Bowl linebacker C.J. Mosley was signed in the offseason to a record-shattering five-year, $85 million contract making him the highest-paid linebacker in NFL history.
Hopes were understandably high for Mosley going into 2019 and after a dominant display in the first half of Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills, it seemed as though he was well on his way to living up to that hefty contract.
Unfortunately, one half of football would be about all the Jets would see of a healthy Mosley in 2019.
He would injure his groin in the second half, an injury that would essentially force him to miss the rest of the season — save for a hobbled performance in Week 7 in which it was clear the Jets had rushed him back. Soon after that game, he was shut down for the rest of the year.
Mosley had missed just three games in his first five NFL seasons prior to joining the Jets so it’s not as if he’s been an injury-prone player. That said, another significant injury in 2020 could change the perception about him.
The Jets would still be stuck with Mosley in 2021, but they could theoretically move on after that season with very little dead cap (just $3 million). Those talks are premature for now, but another injury would certainly be cause for concern.
Mosley will look to avoid the “injury-prone” label by bouncing back with a healthy 2020 season.
Next: 3. Blessuan Austin
3. Blessuan Austin, CB, NY Jets
When the Jets selected Blessuan Austin in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, they knew that they were taking a chance on his health.
After all, the once-promising young defensive back had missed essentially all of the last two seasons with two separate torn ACL’s. He hadn’t been healthy since 2016 so it really wasn’t a surprise to see him fall as far as he did.
But after rehabbing all offseason and into the regular season, Austin was finally activated off the PUP list and went on to play extremely well down the stretch. In seven games, Austin made six starts and looked like one of the best young cornerbacks in football in the second half of the season.
And perhaps most importantly, he showed no signs of being worse for wear following his devastating injuries. Austin was healthy for the first time in years, and his performance on the gridiron was evidence of that.
But with a medical history as extensive as his, you never know when the injury bug could strike again.
Austin faces a challenging 2020 season where he will be out to prove that his late-season success last year was more than just a fluke. If he could not only keep up his success but stay healthy this season, then he could solidify himself as a true building block on defense.
But if he suffered yet another serious injury, it will be very difficult for the Jets to rely on him going forward.
Austin was healthy last season, and here’s to hoping that’s a sign of things to come in his NFL career.
Next: 2. Avery Williamson
2. Avery Williamson, LB, NY Jets
Out of all the players on this list, perhaps no player needs to prove that they’re healthy in 2020 more than Avery Williamson.
Williamson entered the season looking to form one of the most formidable linebacker duos in the NFL alongside the aforementioned C.J. Mosley. However, a devastating injury suffered in the third preseason game changed all of that.
The former Tennessee Titans linebacker tore his ACL in August and was declared out for the year. In his place, he saw the likes of Neville Hewitt, Blake Cashman, and James Burgess perform admirably in a starting role.
To complicate matters, the Jets also signed former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Patrick Onwuasor in the offseason further solidifying their depth at the position. Williamson has the starting role for now, but that’s far from a guarantee.
The Jets could free up some cap space by cutting Williamson — who is in the final year of his contract — before the start of the season. And if he looks slow or not like his old self in the preseason, they might just do that.
Not only must Williamson stay healthy in 2020, but he must prove that he is healthy going into the year.
Or else his roster spot could be in jeopardy.
Next: 1. Chris Herndon
1. Chris Herndon, TE, NY Jets
While the Jets defense was hit hard with injuries in 2019, perhaps no injury hurt the team’s offense more than the loss of tight end Chris Herndon.
After a successful rookie season that saw Herndon pace all rookie tight ends in catches and touchdowns, the former Miami star would suffer two different injuries that (when combined with his four-game suspension) would force him to miss essentially the whole season.
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First, it was an aggravated hamstring injury that delayed his return from suspension until Week 10 against the New York Giants. And when he finally got back on the field, he would play just 18 offensive snaps before going down with a broken rib.
That second injury would keep him out the rest of the year limiting his 2019 production to one measly catch for seven yards. Not an ideal way to spend your second season in the NFL.
Herndon played all 16 games in his rookie season, but a pretty serious MCL injury suffered in his senior year of college forced him to fall in the 2019 NFL Draft.
And another serious injury in 2020 could cause the Jets to rethink their future plans at the tight end position.
Herndon is a well-rounded, talented tight end who provides value not only as a reliable receiving target, but as a capable, willing blocker. Unfortunately, none of that matters if he can’t stay on the field.
The Jets are counting on Herndon to take a step forward in 2020 and any time spent on the sidelines limits his possible development.
And for a player who’s already teetering on the brink of being called “injury-prone,” Herndon can ill-afford to miss any significant amount of time this season.