NY Jets: Top 3 players to watch in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills

NY Jets (Photo by Robert Sabo-Pool/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Robert Sabo-Pool/Getty Images) /
NY Jets (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

These three NY Jets players will be must-watch in the season opener against the Buffalo Bills.

The NY Jets will kick off their regular season when they take on the Buffalo Bills later today. In a highly-anticipated divisional matchup, these two teams have a lot on the line as they look to start their season off with a victory.

The Jets enter as the obvious underdogs. After a surprising 7-9 season, head coach Adam Gase returns for his second season with the Jets looking to improve after a miserable 2019 season that saw his offense finish dead last in the NFL.

Gase will have a lot to prove in 2020, and so too will the Jets who will look to show that last season’s 6-2 finish was more than just a fluke. Unfortunately, a subpar roster and a difficult schedule could stand in their way.

That said, the Jets will return a number of players who they hope will carry the team to a second consecutive overachieving season. And against the Bills, they’ll need a few of those guys to step up.

Buffalo hosts one of the more complete rosters in the NFL with a stout defense and an offense without many glaring holes. Meanwhile, the Jets enter Week 1 beat up with multiple injuries further diminishing an overall weak roster.

An upset is certainly possible, but if that’s to be the case, they’re going to need these players to step up later today.

We take a look at three Jets players to watch in their Week 1 opener against the Bills.

Next: 3. Chris Herndon

NY Jets (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

3. Chris Herndon, TE, NY Jets

The return of Chris Herndon has been one of the most documented and hyped storylines of the 2020 offseason. And it will all culminate in his return to the gridiron later this afternoon.

Herndon burst on to the scene as a rookie topping all first-year tight ends in receptions and receiving touchdowns, finishing just behind Mark Andrews in receiving yards preventing him from scoring the receiving triple crown.

Unfortunately, his sophomore season that was supposed to be his breakout campaign turned out to be anything but.

Herndon missed the first four games of the year serving a suspension and would end up playing right around 15 minutes of regular-season action before multiple injuries ended his season.

But going into 2020, Herndon is ready to make up for lost time. And if his performance in training camp is any indication, he’s on track to do just that and more.

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The former fourth-round pick wasted little time reestablishing the chemistry he had developed with Sam Darnold and few players shined as bright as Herndon this summer.

Given the Jets’ abysmal wide receiver situation, sans Denzel Mims on Sunday, they’re going to need Herndon to step up in a big way.

All eyes will be on the Jets’ young tight end as he makes looks to play in his first full game of football since 2018 while leading a lackluster receiving corps.

Next: 2. Marcus Maye

NY Jets (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

2. Marcus Maye, S, NY Jets

If Chris Herndon wasn’t the star of training camp, it was most definitely Marcus Maye.

It didn’t take long for reports to emerge of Maye’s on-field excellence this summer helped in part by the Jets’ decision to expand his role on defense.

Following the departure of Jamal Adams, it seemed as though there would be a glaring hole on defense in the form of a do-it-all safety who could cover, rush the passer, and defend against the run.

Many assumed newly-acquired Bradley McDougald would be tried in that role. Instead, it’s been Maye who has stepped in to fill the hole that Adams left and it’s hard to have imagined him filling it any better.

Rather than keeping him in the typical center-field safety role that he had been confined to over the past three years, the Jets opted to use Maye as anything from a roaming linebacker to a box safety.

They asked him to blitz, play shallow zone coverage, cover tight ends man-to-man, and even play his deep zone that he had become accustomed to. He became the team’s do-it-all, hybrid safety.

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But he didn’t become the new Jamal Adams. He became the expanded and enhanced version of Marcus Maye.

Expectations are sky-high for Maye entering 2020 after the summer that he put together. Unfortunately, he’ll enter Week 1 nursing both a calf and an ankle injury.

At the time of writing, he is expected to play. But Jets fans will certainly keep an eye out to see if Maye not only looks healthy but plays as advertised.

Next: 1. Mekhi Becton

NY Jets (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
NY Jets (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

1. Mekhi Becton, LT, NY Jets

There is perhaps no player who will command more attention in Week 1 — on either team — than Jets’ first-round pick Mekhi Becton.

Selected 11th overall by the Jets in the 2020 NFL Draft, Becton will be making his NFL debut later today facing a pretty impressive Bills defense.

In all likelihood, he’ll be tasked with blocking veteran defensive end Jerry Hughes who is over 10 years his elder. When Hughes was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts way back in 2010, Becton had just turned 11-years-old.

Now, the young rookie will be asked to block a guy with over 50 career sacks who hasn’t missed an NFL game in nine years — or since Becton was 12.

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That’s a tall task for any player, especially given the unorthodox offseason that he was forced to endure. The lack of minicamp, OTAs, and a preseason could have been disastrous for a prospect like Becton who still has plenty of room to grow — not literally, hopefully.

But to his credit, Becton looked the part in training camp and received almost universally positive reviews. Now, every rep counts for real. Every snap is evaluated by millions watching at home.

The spotlight is most certainly on the monstrous 6-foot-7, 364-pounder. It’s foolish to expect a flawless afternoon — there are assuredly going to be some rookie growing pains.

Next. NY Jets: Top 3 keys to victory in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills

But in success or failure, expect all eyes to be on Becton later today — not that you’ll be able to miss him.