Throughout the offseason, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg, Randy Lange and Olivia Landis will each give their predictions to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: Which player on the Jets is poised for the biggest jump?
EA: Le'Veon Bell with an honorable mention to Marcus Maye. The reports of the 28-year-old back's demise have been greatly exaggerated. If you strictly look at numbers, Bell had his worst statistical season in 2019 in terms of rush yards per game (52.6), yards per carry (3.2), attempts per contest (16.3) and yards per touch (4.0). His 3 rush TDs tied a personal low that he amassed in a six-game campaign back in 2015 and his longest rush was just 19 yards. But I say throw it all out the window because Bell fought behind 11 OL starters and 9 different line combinations last season. When Sam Darnold was out, it felt like Bell was running uphill and 20 people had their hands on him before he sniffed the line of scrimmage. The 6'1", 225-pound Bell, who averaged 4.5 yards/carry and 8.5 yards/catch his last four Steelers seasons, is the fastest player in pro football history to reach 8,000 scrimmage yards. He is a unique talent, blessed with power, patience and vision, who should benefit from the Jets changes up front and will remain a threat in the pass game after 66 receptions last season. While Bell remains one of the league's top RBs, I anticipate the underrated Maye to get some more opportunities to showcase his range and ball instincts.
EG: Quinnen Williams. The 2019 No. 3 overall pick flashed at times last season and totaled 31 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and 9 quarterback hits in 13 games (9 starts). Williams, who dealt with an ankle sprain early in the season, has reportedly changed his diet in the offseason and has been training at Xtreme Fitness Performance in Birmingham, AL with his trainer Kevin Brown. The two have been working together since Williams was a junior in high school and Brown said Williams "wants to show people, 'I was the third overall pick for a reason.' " Fellow Alabama product C.J. Mosley also believes Williams will improve in 2020 because it'll be his second season in the NFL and in coordinator Gregg Williams' system. Mosley also mentioned Williams' age as a factor as the 6'3", 303-pounder will turn 23 in December. Williams also started just one season for Nick Saban at Alabama, and Mosley believes Williams has just scratched his surface. I also think with the Jets' stout defensive line, Williams will have fresh legs throughout the season. A lot of players take a jump from Year 1 to Year 2 and I expect Williams to do the same.
RL: Chris Herndon. The second-year tight end barely played last season due to early suspension and late injuries. But the way he came on the scene as a rookie in 2018 — 39 catches for 502 yards and 4 touchdowns, including 3 in consecutive games, the first Jets rookie TE ever to do that, and nine 20-yards-plus receptions in a 10-game span, not bad for a TE or a rookie — still holds the promise of a big leap from 2019 to 2020. Especially with Sam Darnold in year three, the improved offensive line, a WR corps with a dangerous downfield dimension, and a reinvigorated Le'Veon Bell, the windows should open in between the short zones and down the seams for No. 89 to pick up where he left off.
OL: Sam Darnold. While there are many players in my mind that are poised to make vast improvements this season, I think it's safe to say that the third-year QB has some added tools to his toolbox to find great success in 2020. For starters, he's entering his second consecutive season within the same offense and with the same coach. Prior to this year, the young gunslinger had three different coaches and offensive schemes in as many years. You know what they say, practice makes perfect, and the more Darnold is familiar with language, plays and coaches, the better off he'll be. Darnold will also have a revamped offensive line to protect him this year. In 2019, the Jets' O-line ranked 30th in the league in sacks allowed per pass attempt. Joe Douglas made good on his word of rebuilding and drafted the mammoth Mekhi Becton and also added other pieces to the line. With those pieces and more familiarity in the system, I believe the 23-year-old QB can have a breakout year.