Honorable Mention: The New York Jets and New England Patriots get along like Ellen Ripley and the Alien: One is trying to literally destroy the other from the inside out; the other is the Jets.
During the course of the Jets-Pats rivalries there have been many players that cross into enemy territory only to make the Jets lives miserable. Danny Woodhead was cut by the Jets and shredded them for over 100 yards in a Monday Night blowout in 2010. Sack-master Shaun Ellis also crossed the line at the end of his career and played for the Pats in the Supebowl. And of course Tim Tebow made as much impact for the Patriots as he did for the Jets. The Jets were fortunate that the next person on the list made a similar impact against his former team....
The Number Ten Jet We Wanted To See More Of:
With the pick the Jets received from the Chiefs for HC Herman Edwards the Jets drafted a raw speedster out of FSU - and the immediate results were pretty good. In his first year with the team Washington led the Jets in rushing with 650 yards and 4 TDs, and over 900 yards from scrimmages (4th most in team history for a rookie). But Washington's real value to the Jets came in the return game.
In 2007, after the starting HB position was given to Thomas Jones, Washington became the full-time kick returner and electrified the NFL with a league-leading and team record 3 KR TDs, as well as 27.5 yards/return and 1291 KR yards. He became only the 3rd player in team history to record over 2000 All Purpose Yards.
Washington's impressive 2007 was followed by a franchise-record setting season in 2008 where he set the Jets record for All Purpose Yards with 2337 and became the team's all-time leader in KR TDs. On offense, he proved to be extremely effective as well, adding 8 more TDs (6 rushing and 2 receiving) and helping the Jets record the 3rd highest point total in team history. Washington was later named to the Pro Bowl and 1st team All-Pro as a kick returner.
In 2009 Washington was set to be Jones' backup again in new coach Rex Ryan's Ground and Pound offense. But a severe leg injury mid-way through the season abruptly ended his season. But with the emergence of backup Shonn Greene and the versatile Brad Smith at the end of the season, Washington became expendable in the 2010 off-season and was traded to Seattle.
But instead of trudging through Seattle as a broken player, Washington made a full recovery and replicated his production as a kick returner with the Seahawks, recording a league-leading 3 more KR TDs in 2010 (including 2 in one game) and a Pro Bowl selection in 2012. He left the Seahawks as the team's all-time leader in KR TDs.
For three more years after being traded from the Jets, Washington remained one of the most dominant kick returners in the NFL. His career has been on the downturn since 2013 when he signed with the Patriots but only played in two games before being cut and later signed by the Titans. He was re-signed by the Titans and will head into training camp in 2014 with the team, ironically alongside Shonn Greene, the back who replaced him in 2009.
Overall, during his career with the Jets, Washington recorded an incredible 4.8 yards per carry on 370 attempts. He is one of only two players in team history with 2 seasons of over 2000 all purpose yards, and the only player in team history to record them back-to-back. He is also the only player in team history to be named First Team All-Pro as a Kick Returner. Factoring in his time with Seattle, he is tied for the most KR TDs in NFL history.
Washington may have been the most dangerous offensive weapon the Jets could have had in the post-Martin era. He was easily the most explosive offensive weapon the team had since Martin retired - and with all of the problems the Jets had on offense after Washington left, it's frustrating to wonder what kind of team they would have been with a home-run threat like him - if only for a few more years.
Coming Up: Which star player just couldn't get the damn ball?