Jets Counting on big Leap for Trio of Sophomore Starters
There’s a good chance that when the Jets kick off their 2020 season this Sunday against the Buffalo Bills that all eyes will be on first-round draft choice Mekhi Becton. Even if you’re not planning on watching much of Becton, the 6′ 7” 360 pound rookie is sure to stand out in one way or another. But it’s a trio of starters on defense who could play a huge role not just on Sunday, but for the Jets long-term future.
All three levels of the Jets defense are expected to feature a second-year player in a starting role with defensive lineman Quinnen Williams, linebacker Blake Cashman and cornerback Bless Austin expected to get the nod for Gregg Williams’ defense.
In Williams, the Jets are hoping for a massive leap. Despite a less than impressive stat line (28 tackles, 4 TFL, 2.5 sacks), Williams had some downright dominant moments as a rookie when matching up against some of the best offensive linemen in the NFL. Hard core fantasy football fans were disappointed with Williams’ production, but on film you can see how important Williams was to the Jets ranking 7th overall on defense. If Williams can stay healthy in 2020 after playing much of 2019 on a balky ankle, look for a huge leap in production for the 22-year-old.
Next player after Fatukasi stop, Quinnen Williams beats his blocker to the inside and pursues Dak for stop on 4th down. Those two stops made 92-yd TD to Robby possible. Quinnen making his presence felt. pic.twitter.com/lZdDLMlpDk
— Glenn Naughton (@AceFan23) October 16, 2019
In Cashman and Austin the Jets have two players who were impacted by injuries at opposite ends of the 2019 season. Austin started the year on IR after suffering a second major knee injury at the start of his final collegiate season, and Cashman appeared in seven games (5 starts) before missing the rest of the season on the shelf.
Now with a full offseason for both players to prepare themselves, the pair are expected to be in the starting lineup on Sunday against the Bills. Cashman should be pairing with Neville Hewitt, giving the Jets quality coverage linebackers on the inside. The Jets also used Cashman a fair bit on the outside and he could see some action there again with the team’s lack of depth opposite Jordan Jenkins.
Feel like we forget some of the flashes we saw from Blake Cashman as a rookie last season. Unfotunately injured again, but showed some versatility and toughness in the middle. Nice job here of keeping his eyes in the backfield, shedding the block and getting the tackle. pic.twitter.com/KlY9i6SC0l
— Glenn Naughton (@AceFan23) May 5, 2020
Looking to field a physical secondary, Bless Austin’s hard-hitting style is a good fit for Gregg Williams. Austin wasn’t exactly a shut down corner last season, but when considering the amount of time he missed leading up to making his NFL debut, his overall play was highly impressive to say the least. Austin was benched for the season’s final game following a blown assignment the week before, but that can be chalked up to being a rookie mistake.
Also joining the trio entering year two will be backup tackle Chuma Edoga and backup TE Trevon Wesco who should see time not only at tight end but at fullback and H-back. Wesco came on late last season as a lead blocker and reportedly got himself in to even better shape this offseason.