NY Jets: Top 3 players to watch in Week 12 against the Miami Dolphins

NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /
NY Jets
NY Jets /

NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

NY Jets fans should keep a close eye on these three players in Week 12.

The NY Jets will return home in Week 12 to take on a Miami Dolphins team that’s been red hot as of late. Prior to a one-week slip-up against the Denver Broncos last Sunday, the Dolphins had won their last five games.

In the midst of that stretch of wins was a 24-0 shutout of their Week 12 opponents, the Jets. But while Ryan Fitzpatrick, Miami’s starter in that game, will take the field again this week, the Jets will have a different starter under center.

Sam Darnold is set to make his return after missing four of the team’s last six games, including that Week 6 meeting. That means Joe Flacco will return to his regular backup role for the time being.

The Jets aren’t playing for very much at the moment, apart from the overblown “pride” factor and the No. 1 overall pick. But that doesn’t mean that Jets fans shouldn’t tune in.

Here are three players to keep an eye on this week.

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3. Chris Herndon, TE, NY Jets

Chris Herndon has been arguably the biggest disappointment in a season full of disappointments for Gang Green. From drops to fumbles, few players have fallen off quite as quickly in recent memory as Herndon.

But for one week, the formerly promising tight end showed signs of life. It wasn’t much, but any positivity means something for him at this stage.

Herndon hauled in two catches for 32 yards and a touchdown — his first of the season. Those two catches quite literally doubled his total over the previous four weeks and his 32 yards were more than he amassed in every game since Week 5 combined.

Again, it’s not much, but it was encouraging nonetheless.

Herndon will have a chance to prove that his mild success last week was no fluke against the Dolphins this weekend. The former fourth-round pick is playing for his NFL future and will have the rest of the season to change the team’s perception of him.

Week 11 was a good starting point, but he needs to string together positive performances if he is to come close to fulfilling his potential.

At the very least, hopefully this gets his confidence up.

Next: 2. Bryce Hall

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2. Bryce Hall, CB, NY Jets

Bryce Hall was thrust into the unenviable position of being the Jets’ No. 1 cornerback last week just one week after making his NFL debut. This came after the rookie had missed all of training camp and the first 10 weeks of the season while rehabbing an ankle injury.

Yet, despite the deck being stacked against him, he actually fared quite well.

While the duo of Keenan Allen and Mike Williams feasted all day — the former setting a new franchise record for catches — their success primarily came against the other members of the Jets’ secondary.

Hall was targeted eight times on Sunday when covering either Allen or Williams and those targets resulted in just 29 yards and two first downs. Allen finished with 16 catches for 145 yards while Williams had four grabs for 72 yards.

Only 29 of those 217 yards came under Hall’s watch. That’s quite the encouraging performance, especially when you consider just how many rookie cornerbacks have struggled this season.

Truth be told, Hall has been put at a supreme disadvantage early on in his NFL career. But in his first career start, none of that mattered.

The Jets will be hoping for more of that this week when he’s likely asked to shadow Dolphins’ wide receiver DeVante Parker. Another daunting task, it will be interesting to see if Hall is up to the challenge.

Next: 1. Sam Darnold

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1. Sam Darnold, QB, NY Jets

Sam Darnold’s future with the Jets might already be sealed, but that doesn’t mean that the organization doesn’t have anything to benefit from him playing.

The Jets will be hoping that Darnold plays well, one way or another.

Either he plays well enough, in spite of his awful situation, to string together a couple of wins down the stretch (unlikely) or he plays well but the Jets still falter and move on from him in the offseason.

No matter which way you look at it, that’s a win for the Jets.

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If Darnold plays well in Week 12 and over the final six games of the season, he can significantly up his trade value going into the offseason. However, if the opposite happens and he continues to struggle, the Jets might be lucky to snag a second or third-round pick for him.

That’s why his return this week is crucial.

Joe Flacco, though he had his struggles, played better than any quarterback the Jets have trotted out this season. Quite frankly, the offense looked much more competent with Flacco at the helm than they ever did with Darnold.

Of course, Flacco was playing with his full array of receivers, but that type of nuance may not be analyzed when evaluating Darnold in the offseason.

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The Jets need Darnold to play well this week. For the sake of his future and their own future transactions.