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Rookies' Playing Time Was a Silver Lining in 2016

New York’s AFC Representative Had 18 Players on IR, 62% of Final Roster Was 25 and Younger


After flirting with a playoff berth in 2015, the Green & White entered Todd Bowles' second season with high expectations. But the team never dug itself out of an early hole and injuries forced a number of lineup changes along the way.

"Well my expectations were I knew we'd have a different team in year two, but we're still trying to go to the playoffs and Super Bowl," Bowles said. "That's always the expectation going in. You always build, you never rebuild. Going into the season I thought we had a lot of promise, a lot of hope. We made some mistakes early, lost some clutch games and going 1-5 kind of snowballed. Then the injuries starting happening, but we have to do a better job of getting off to a faster start."

The Jets had 75 players appear in at least one game in 2016, tying an NFL record. The Jets' 18 players on Injured Reserve included 4/5 of their projected offensive line when the season started. Nine of those 18 players started opening day against the Bengals in Week 1 and an additional four got the nod in at least one game this season. All the injuries propelled younger players into starting roles as the team adopted a "next man up" mentality. Of 53 players on the final Jets' roster, 33 (62%) of them were 25 or younger.

"That sort of typifies some of the adversity that we dealt with this year," general manager Mike Maccagnan said. "Every season is different. Every team gets exposed to injuries. I think a lot of that number was a result of a lot of injuries we had this season. We did persevere through.

"We got a chance to play a lot of our younger players this year. Not only some of the draft picks and college free agents from this year and last year that did a good job for us. And we're kind of excited about their potential and their future. But the other part of it was simply having that number of players go through a season on your active roster, it really speaks to the number of injuries we had." 

The silver lining of this season lies with rookies' playing time. Six of the Jets' seven 2016 draft picks started in at least one game this season —QB Christian Hackenberg was slated to have a redshirt year from the get-go. Additionally, the Jets had a number of undrafted rookies contribute over the course of the year.

Darron Lee

Rd. 1

No. 20

Finished fourth on team in TKL (76), had 4 TFL

13 G

9 GS

Jordan Jenkins

Rd. 3

No. 83

Finished fourth on team in QBH (11), had 48 TKL, 2.5 sacks

14 G

11 GS

Juston Burris

Rd. 4

No. 118

Tied for third in PDs (6), one INT, Third on Special Teams TKL

16 G

1 GS

Brandon Shell

Rd. 5

No. 158

82 conseuctive pass snaps without a pressure, per PFF

8 G

3 GS

Lachlan Edwards

Rd. 7

No. 235

Only allowed four touchbacks this season, avg. 43.1 yards per punt

16 G

16 GS

Charone Peake

Rd. 7

No. 241

19 rec, 42-yard scoop-and-score TD in Week 4, tied for sixth ST TKL

15 G

1 GS

Robby Anderson



42 rec, ranked third on team in receiving yards (587), 2 TD

16 G

8 GS

Jalin Marshall



14 rec, 2 TD, primary returner this season

10 G

1 GS

Doug Middleton



6 TKL, 1 PD, recovered kickoff for TD in Week 17

4 G

0 GS

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