By now, Jets fans are all familiar with the many holes on this roster and have grand ideas in their heads about how they can all be fixed in one simple offseason. Well, obviously that isn’t going to be the case. There are simply too many holes to fill, and with the resources John Idzik has available — both draft picks-wise and money-wise — there is just no way they can all be plugged with new players. Therefore, some guys who are already here in Jets uniforms are going to have to fill those holes themselves. Many players who had smaller roles in 2012 are going to have to step up and contribute in a much bigger way once September roles around. Here are some of the players we can expect to see a whole lot more of in 2013.
TE Jeff Cumberland – While I am not a fan of Jeff Cumberland, we are most likely looking here at the 2013 starting tight end. Dustin Keller is a free agent and is almost certainly a goner, which leaves Cumberland to hold down the fort in the top spot, a spot he held much of 2012 as Keller was injured. He did manage to rack up the second most yards on the team with 359 yards, but his play did leave a lot to be desired. The team still has hopes for former rugby player Hayden Smith in a complementary role, and a rookie is likely to be brought in via the draft, but expect Cumberland to be a pretty big part of the offense, especially early in the season as he has a bit of a rapport with Mark Sanchez. And yes, Mark Sanchez is going to be the quarterback, so let’s just accept that now and move on. Thanks.
DT Kenrick Ellis – Starting nose tackle Sione Po’uha’s status is up in the air, especially since cutting him would save nearly $4 million, and that would put Kenrick Ellis into the starting lineup. Even if Po’uha is brought back, Ellis is definitely looking at an increased role heading into next year. The 2011 3rd-round pick was playing very well early in the season last year before a knee injury knocked him out and he struggled to regain that form. We all knew Ellis was a project pick when he was drafted two years ago, and after coming along little by little his first two seasons, now is the time for him to realize his immense potential and become an impact player for the defensive line.
OLB Garrett McIntyre – Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas held down the starting OLB spots the past few seasons, but neither is expected back in 2013. Between injuries to Thomas and general ineffectiveness by both starters last year, McIntyre ended up playing a solid amount in 2012. Surprisingly, he actually played pretty well in his limited role and finished the season with 3.5 sacks. He’s far from a star player, but with the position in flux heading into next season, there’s a pretty good chance McIntyre is ticketed for a starting role opposite the rookie pass rusher the team undoubtedly drafts in April.
MLB Josh Mauga – Mauga’s role started to increase in 2011 and he seemed like he was working his way into more defensive packages before an injury knocked him out for the season. With Bart Scott gone and Demario Davis headed for a major role on defense, someone has to do the dirty work in run defense, and Mauga may very well end up being that man. I expect Mauga to provide solid depth at linebacker next year, back up a few positions, and also provide a valuable special teams presence.
CB Aaron Berry – After Darrelle Revis tore his ACL, Berry was signed to a 2-year contract to help fill the void. He was seemingly injured while signing his contract, however, and never managed to get on the field to help the defense, and became the forgotten man. Well, he’s still under contract, and now that he’s healthy and ready to play, I expect him to play a big role on the defense either as a nickel or dime corner to give Rex Ryan some flexibility. He’s clearly much more experienced and talented than Ellis Lankster, Isaiah Trufant, and Darrin Walls, and should easily beat them out for a spot in training camp.
S Josh Bush – Eric Smith was already released (thankfully) and both starters from last season are free agents. It is unclear if Laron Landry and/or Yeremiah Bell will be back in 2013, but you can definitely expect to see more of the 2012 6th round pick Josh Bush next season. Rex Ryan loved his ability to be a deep coverage safety, and after a year of earning his keep on special teams, 2013 could be the season in which Bush earns a larger role in some defensive packages, especially as the team looks for new ways to cover players like Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.