The unthinkable finally happened as the 2020 New York Jets have won a game. The Jets delivered an early Christmas miracle for fans rooting for a win and a lump of coal for fans of the tank. While I received a lot of calls and text messages from friends and family congratulating me on the Jets finally getting a win, I realized something pretty impressive about the Jets this year. Every time I think the Jets are doing everything in their power to make me apathetic about the team this year, they manage to do more. I am somehow going to be equally or more interested in watching a 1-13 Jaguars team than my home team for the remaining 2 games.
That said, it’s hard not to feel happy for the players, who have not given up this year. With adequate coaching, they would probably have earned a couple more wins this year despite so many holes on the roster. Sam Darnold had a solid outing, as did many of the young players like Ty Johnson and Bryce Hall. Crowder continued to be a consistent producer, while Neville Hewitt led the team in tackles once again.
There were 3 big men who took the awards this week, though. Each one was a dominant force that helped the Jets win this game in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Here we go:
Bronze Star: Mekhi Becton
The announcers repeatedly pointed to the size of Becton throughout the broadcast, and it’s hard to blame anyone for noting his frame. At 6-7 and nearly 400lbs, Becton is gargantuan even by NFL standards. He makes 6-3 linemen clocking in at over 300 lbs look small. The average American male is around 5-9 and somewhere around 180-200 lbs, putting them nearly a foot below Becton and around half his body weight.
But what is often lost when talking about Becton is how quick he is and how good his technique has looked for a rookie, regardless of size. He consistently just removes whoever lines up in front of him from the play. On pass plays, he barely moves backwards at all before the pass rusher is stonewalled or hurled 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage. On run plays, the defender is lucky not to be pancaked. There’s not been much to be excited about this year, and the Jets winning may have taken what little there was from many fans, but Becton has been spectacular for a rookie and looks to be a foundational piece if he can stay healthy.
Silver Star: Nathan Shepherd (3 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFLs)
Shepherd has been a mild disappointment in his 3 years as a Jet, recording only 36 tackles and 3.5 sacks despite being mostly healthy in each season and getting a fair number of snaps. He does occasionally have a big game, however, and this was arguably the biggest of his Jets career. With Fatukasi out, the Rams likely thought they could establish the run and leave the nose tackle one on one. They were wrong. Shepherd blew up several plays almost immediately off the snap, resulting in 3 negative plays and a consistent presence in the backfield. If Shepherd can find some consistency with these types of games, the Jets defensive line would really start to look intimidating for teams in 2021.
Gold Star: Quinnen Williams (4 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL)
Since the departure of Jamal Adams, Jets fans really had to wonder if the Jets had any players in 2020 who would be quality starters, never mind Pro Bowl or All Pro talents. Enter Quinnen Williams in year 2, who has seemingly gotten better in every game he’s played this year (making his season ending trip to the IR all the more unfortunate for him and fans.) Against the Rams, he was unstoppable. The Rams tried to isolate him, double team him, and move the ball away from him. It didn’t work. Williams found a way to create havoc on almost every play, including earning a sack while the offense was set to double team him. Quinnen Williams is now indisputably the best player on the Jets, filling the role that Jamal Adams held last year. The only player looking to give him competition next year is Mr. Becton, which is rewarding news for long-suffering Jets fans who have joined me in watching the draft each year.
So there you have it, fourteen weeks in and the table stands:
Quinnen Williams 17 points (5 gold, 1 silver)
No One 12 points (2 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze)
Jamison Crowder 10 points (2 gold, 2 silver)
Mekhi Becton 7 points (1 gold, 1 silver, 2 bronze)
Marcus Maye 6 points (2 gold)
Neville Hewitt 5 points (2 silver, 1 bronze)
John Franklin-Myers 4 points (2 silver)
Breshad Perriman 3 points (1 gold)
Ty Johnson 3 points (1 gold)
Sam Ficken 3 points (1 silver, 1 bronze)
Brian Poole 2 points (1 silver)
Joe Flacco 2 points (1 silver)
Nathan Shepherd 2 points (1 silver)
Denzel Mims 1 point (1 bronze)
Josh Adams 1 point (1 bronze)
Avery Williamson 1 point (1 bronze)
Bless Austin 1 point (1 bronze)
Frank Gore 1 point (1 bronze)
Braden Mann 1 point (1 bronze)
Ashytn Davis 1 point (1 bronze)
Folo Fatukasi 1 point (1 bronze)