Like a fine wine, Jets LT Kelvin Beachum feels his play has aged well with time.
"It was probably the best season I've had as a professional, honestly," Beachum said of his 2019 campaign. "I just played well through different portions of the season. I had a rough game here and there, but for the most part, this was the best ball that I've played of my career."
The 30-year-old missed three games with an ankle sprain and the Jets allowed an average of four sacks per game and were winless in his absence. Coach Adam Gase and QB Sam Darnold credited Beachum throughout the season for playing through various ailments and stabilizing a unit that was devastated by injuries along the line.
"He just keeps his head down, doesn't complain, just goes to work," Gase said. "He wants to practice. He doesn't feel great when he does [play], but he does everything he can to make sure that's he's prepared for the game. You want as many guys as him as possible.''
Darnold added: "He is the kind of guy that, if things aren't going well, he's like, 'What do I have to do to help this team win?' That's all he's going to do. He's just a really good leader, a great captain, a really good teammate. He's been battling through some stuff this year, and we recognize it, too.''
See the Best Photos of the O-Line During the 2019 Season
Beachum's year was both his most challenging and rewarding. His neighbors to his left and right frequently changed as 11 players started along the offensive line in 2019. The Jets placed TEs Chris Herndon and Ryan Griffin on injured reserve, too.
"As a unit, we got to the point where we didn't care what anybody had to say about how we performed," Beachum said. "All we cared about each other. I can say with a lot of pride that this group of men, all we cared about was each other. We cared about respecting one another, working for one another, being selfless, loving on each other and that's all that matters. We couldn't care less what our record was, we couldn't care less about our stats. All we wanted to do was go out and perform the best of our ability and for one another. At the end of the day, that's all that matters."
Beachum judged his season on completing his personal goals he set in the offseason. His priority was to make sure his stance didn't deteriorate.
"That was something that I worked on quite a bit with the basic concept and fundamentals of being able to keep my stance the same," he said. "For 70 plays game in and game out, I was able to do that, which was one goal. It's so simple, but it's one goal that I made sure I was able to attain — just making sure my stance stayed rooted, square.
"For me, those were things that many people may not think about, but that was one of the markers and measurements that I wanted to make sure that I was on."
Above all, Beachum, who is an impending unrestricted free agent, took most pride in being named a team captain for the first time in his career along with QB Sam Darnold, S Jamal Adams, DT Steve McLendon and WR Demaryius Thomas.
"It was a huge honor and responsibility," said the eight-year veteran who has an expiring contract and could become an unrestricted free agent in March. "I didn't take it lightly and I still don't take it lightly. It's an honor to be able to serve and when you're voted by your peers to serve them in this capacity, you don't take it for granted. I play this game for respect and when you gain respect among your peers, that's a huge deal and I was able to do that this year."