5 NY Jets playing with a chip on their shoulder this season

NY Jets, D.J. Reed
NY Jets, D.J. Reed / Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin /
3 of 5
New York Jets - Kwon Alexander
New York Jets - Kwon Alexander / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

3. Kwon Alexander, LB, NY Jets

Comparing Kwon Alexander's 2015 Combine numbers with his peers, you'd think he was a shoo-in to be drafted in the first three rounds at least. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers ended up drafting him in the fourth round, and with a hardworking effort in training camp, he earned a starting job before Week 1 of his rookie season.

His underdog mentality propelled him to be one of the best linebackers in football during his time with the Buccaneers, culminating in a Pro Bowl appearance in 2017.

Unfortunately for Alexander, he would suffer season-ending injuries in each of the next three seasons (2018-2020). He was still placed on the IR in 2021, but he came back intermittently as a shell of his Pro Bowl self in Tampa Bay.

This offseason he was seen as damaged goods — a guy whose body simply cannot handle the intense rigors of the NFL game. Robert Saleh, his defensive coordinator in 2019 when he suffered a torn pec for the 49ers, saw Alexander's grit and will to compete up close.

That grit propelled him to come back from that season-ending injury in the playoffs, and Alexander competed in the Super Bowl that year playing hard for San Francisco's defense against the Chiefs.

Alexander's chip is unique because it's not based on external factors (competition, lack of playing time, differences with coaches, etc.) as much as it is the internal drive to prove he can still play at a high level.

When healthy, he was a Pro Bowl linebacker who finished a season in the top five in tackles. That was all the way back in 2016 though, and this 28-year-old is determined to prove that he can still perform years later.

This clip is from preseason - the dude brings it 100% no matter the situation and his teammates love it just as much as his coaches do. He's been a great addition to this Jets' defense and arguably the best value contract on the whole team.

It seems like every time No. 9 is around the ball carrier a big hit occurs — he may not be headed to the Pro Bowl, but he's certainly earning himself another contract (whether it be here or elsewhere) with his inspired play.