Two dreadful seasons for the men in Green and White leave a flat feeling entering the new season – with few predicting anything even resembling a challenge for the play-offs.
With rookie Geno Smith starting at QB, star cornerback Darrelle Revis traded, ironically, to the Bucs and star WR Santonio Holmes facing a race against time to reach full fitness there are few players to create a buzz around MetLife Stadium this weekend.
Yet although the big names may be lacking within the current Jets roster, there are several players primed for breakthrough seasons as they help the franchise to begin the rebuilding process.
Here are five young players who look set to step up and prove themselves to be vital contributors for the New York Jets over the course of the campaign.
DEMARIO DAVIS – Inside LinebackerA third round pick out of Arkansas State in the 2012 NFL Draft, Demario Davis enjoyed an educational rookie year as back-up to veteran Bart Scott.
Although snaps were limited for Davis in his first season, he impressed Jets coaches on the practice field and persuaded them he was worthy of the starting spot alongside David Harris at MLB after Scott was released at the end of last season.
Praised for his leadership qualities – which led Rex Ryan to draw comparisons with Ray Lewis – Davis is likely to prove a crucial member of the 2013 Jets defense.
He boasts good speed which will enable him to provide vital pass coverage amongst a relatively slow LB group which generally excels more against the rush.
After a tough start to pre-season against the Lions, Davis came out with much improved performances to prove he has both the sharpness and the application play alongside David Harris.
An explosive player with a tremendous motor, Davis is a strong all-around Inside Linebacker who is capable of making a big impact on Rex Ryan’s defense in his first year as a starter.
Jeff Cumberland – Tight EndNow entering his fourth season in the NFL after been signed as an Undrafted Free Agent in 2010, tight end Jeff Cumberland appears to be in prime position for a big year.
Having honed his skills first on the practice squad and then as a back-up to Dustin Keller, Cumberland now looks set to make his breakthrough following the departure of Keller to Miami.
Despite the signing of Kellen Winslow Jr threatening to relegate Cumberland to back-up status once again, Cumberland has enjoyed a tremendous pre-season to ensure he will at the very least share equal game time with Winslow.
Standing at 6ft 4inches tall and weighing 260lbs, Cumberland possesses the size and athleticism which is revolutionising the Tight End position in the NFL today.
A talented receiver who is improving all the time as a blocker, he has the potential to become a reliable target for the Jets starting QB, whilst the prospect of forming a deadly TE partnership with Winslow is an exciting one.
He may have done things the hard way to reach this point, but after serving his apprenticeship Cumberland is a dark horse to become one of the Jets’ star players in 2013.