It's June, so almost all of the discussions about the upcoming NY Jets season are combinations of speculation, hearsay, and predictions. Unfortunately, we don't yet know what will happen this year, but that simple truth won't stop us from trying to predict and assess all possible scenarios.
In this article, we're going to look at a few possibilities that all like quite unlikely at this point of the offseason, but unlikely things happen all the time.
Who would've predicted Zach Wilson to get worse as the season progressed last year? What about the Jets having a historical turnaround on defense? We may have all been thrown for a loop with Elijah Moore's curious usage and subsequent trade request after all the success he had as a rookie.
So we know unexpected things happen! Let's look at four Jets players who were completely forgotten, irrelevant, or seemingly non-existent that may be key pieces for the team this year.
4. Michael Carter, RB, NY Jets
Michael Carter entered the 2022 season as the Jets' starting running back and ended it as the third-string running back behind undrafted rookie Zonovan Knight and 2019 sixth-rounder (who is no longer on the team) Ty Johnson. That fact alone would imply a fall of massive proportions last year.
He had 964 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns as a rookie on a team that was bottom-10 in just about every single offensive metric that year. With more reinforcements in year two, the expectation was an even better sophomore campaign for the guy who led the entire NFL in most missed tackles forced per carry in 2021.
Even with Breece Hall, the expectation was a two-headed rushing attack where Hall would be explosive, and Carter would continue being one of the toughest backs in the league to tackle. Hall ran away with RB1 duties, but Carter still proved to be effective.
Perhaps the best example of this duo was in Week 5 against the Miami Dolphins when Hall out-touched Carter 20 to 12 and had more highlight-worthy plays, but Carter scored twice as many touchdowns and had one of the best celebrations of the Jets season.
Despite Hall's dominance, the coaching staff still recognized Carter's innate ability to break tackles and fight for extra yardage.
In Carter's four starts after Hall's devastating knee injury, he had a pretty solid performance against the Buffalo Bills (6.3 yards per carry, one touchdown) sandwiched in between two awful performances against the New England Patriots (3.0 yards per carry, zero touchdowns) before getting injured against Chicago.
In his return from injury against Buffalo, he made a big play for a first down that was instantly erased by coughing up his first career fumble and arguably losing the Jets the game with that gaffe.
From there, he rode the pine for the majority of the season. Was he still playing hurt? Had he regressed as badly as his fellow sophomore Zach Wilson? What happened?
Carter will have every bit of opportunity to answer those questions to his coaches (both the old and the new) as they enter this 2023 season with sky-high aspirations.
With his experience and well-documented locker room popularity, he's probably the early favorite to split carries with Hall again to start the season as Hall works his way back from his ACL injury.
If Carter shows that toughness we saw in 2021 and the flashes displayed in 2022 pre-injury, then there will be no room for Zonovan Knight or 2023 rookie Israel Abanikanda to usurp the role from him.
Looking at the running back usage in Hackett's system in Denver last year or Rodgers's career with Matt LaFleur, they both like to implement a running back committee, so there will certainly be room for multiple running backs to eat this year.
Don't be surprised if it's the veteran of the group Michael Carter, and he reclaims his spot as not only a tough runner with pass-catching skills but the tackle-breaker that the team uses at the goal line.