There is no denying how crucial Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills is going to be. LaDainian Tomlinson has already christened it a “do or die” game for the New York Jets divisional hopes and the same vibe is coming from the rest of the locker room. You want to win the AFC East? You want a home playoff game? Beat the two teams in front of you the next two weeks and take control of your destiny.
Yet, who could have imagined that two of the most crucial players coming into this game would be Joe McKnight and Aaron Maybin?
Joe McKnight, AFC Special Teams Player of the Month for October, has turned into one of the most explosive kick returners in the league and one of the best all around special teams players. His contributions won’t stop there on Sunday, as the coaching staff has made it clear that he will receive a larger role on offense at both running back and receiver. McKnight has rare, game-breaking speed and the ability to make a play or two that will tip Sunday’s outcome in the Jets favor.
Aaron Maybin, the Buffalo Bills first round bust, has came to the Jets off the scrap heap and turned into their top pass rushing threat. In limited snaps he has already racked up 3 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. Maybin will also be on the receiving end of more playing time this week and how you could not root for this guy to tear up his former team? Maybin has brought a speed and energy to the Jets defense that it sorely needed. His pass rush will go a long way to disrupting the timing of Buffalo’s quick passing attack.
When August started many people thought Joe McKnight could end up being the team’s number four back and nobody thought Aaron Maybin would even be on a NFL team, and yet here they are with a chance to play a major part in seizing the Jets control of the division.
Credit Mike Tannenbaum for taking a shot on Maybin and Rex Ryan for putting him a spot to succeed. Also it might be time to start thinking that trading Leon Washington and cutting Danny Woodhead in favor of McKnight was actually a savvy move.