New York Jets – The Historical Hypothetical

Clayton Smarslok asks what historical New York Jets player would be the biggest help to the current roster…

With this being such a quiet time in football, I figured I would throw a tweet out there just for fun and possibly get a few replies back. Little did I know, people love hypotheticals…

The tweet got some good exposure with team beat writers such as Rich Cimini, Connor Hughes and Brian Costello all joining in on the fun. It didn’t stop there though, Nick Mangold had a small issue with Cimini’s change of heart and ‘Monday Night Miracle’ legend Jumbo Elliot put his input in as well.

Going through all of the responses this tweet got, there were a ton of names thrown out there but there were a few that popped up more than the rest. Centers Nick Mangold and Kevin Mawae, defensive ends Mark Gastineau and John Abraham and safety Ed Reed were probably the five most common. Given the state of the current roster, players like Curtis Martin, Joe Klecko and Joe Namath didn’t get the love they normally would. Even if you asked this same question in January (before Leveon Bell and Quinnen Williams), at least two of those names would have been brought up more than they were.

With all of the debates and interactions with this hypothetical over the past few days, sadly nobody asked for my opinion. Not like it changes anything but we can go through each position and figure out which players would help the team out the most if they joined in their prime years. Before we do that, there are a few positions we can rule out, in my opinion: Quarterback, running back, interior defensive line, middle linebacker and strong safety.

Nobody wants to give up on Sam Darnold just yet. LeVeon could be the best running back in the league so a Curtis Martin might not be as valuable. With Quinnen, Leo, McClendon and Anderson, the interior defensive line looks pretty solid to where there are more pressing issues. The old front office spent a lot of money on their two middle linebackers who look to be one of the better combos in the league and then of course they have Jamal Adams who is the best safety in the game. So it’s safe to assume that we can all rule those out. Now with that being said, let’s get into it.

Wide Receiver
Current Starters: Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, Jamison Crowder
Historical Players: Don Maynard, Al Toon, Keyshawn Johnson, Wayne Chrebet, Brandon Marshall

The Jets have some good players here with Anderson, Enunwa and Crowder. However, they are missing a number one guy. Someone, Darnold can just throw it up to when he’s in trouble. When you think of that that, you have to go to the guy that made Ryan Fitzpatrick look like a solid starter in the NFL, Brandon Marshall. What he did in 2015 was unlike anything Jets fans have witnessed in Green and White. He put up 1502 yards on 109 receptions and also caught 14 touchdown passes. He was a force to be reckoned with and adding someone like that next to a deep threat like Robby Anderson and quality playmakers in the short and intermediate part of the game in Enunwa and Crowder, Darnold could be in line for a massive jump in terms of stats in year two.

Offensive Line
Current Starters: Kelvin Beachum, Kelechi Osemele, Jonotthan Harrison, Brian Winters, Brandon Shell
Historical Players: Winston Hill, Marvin Powell, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Alan Faneca, Kevin Mawae, Nick Mangold

The Jets have actually had some really good offensive linemen over the years but in recent history, it hasn’t been all that great. While any of these players would make this line better in every meaning of the word, you have to choose between the two centers; Kevin Mawae and Nick Mangold. Mawae is going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer and it wouldn’t be crazy to see Mangold join him over the next 10-15 years. This answer may be because I am on the younger side and could not fully appreciate what Mawae did throughout his Jets career but Mangold stepped in day one as a rookie and put on a clinic at the position for about a decade. In his prime, when he missed a game it was very noticeable to tell the how big of a talent drop there was from him to his replacement. What he did for the strong rushing attack in the championship years and the help he gave a young Mark Sanchez was so critical to the teams success. Mangold would have to be the pick in this group.

Edge Rusher

Current Starters: Jordan Jenkins, Brandon Copeland/Jachai Polite/Frankie Luvu
Historical Players: Mark Gastineau, John Abraham

This is a very, very short list of players that deserve to be named here. Gastineau had the season sack record up until Brett Favre broke it for Michael Strahan in 2001. Abraham was the last legitimate edge rusher in this organization that offenses actually feared. Now, this is a tough one because neither of these guys are prototypical 3-4 outside linebackers but we should expect Gregg Williams to run a multiple defense throughout the season and no matter who gets picked, they are going to be asked to get to the quarterback. If you just want a guy to get to the ball as quickly as possible, you have to go with Gastineau. Not only will he provide a much needed presence off the edge, imagine having a guy with his energy on the field with Jamal Adams? There would be no better duo in the NFL to watch than those two because of the amount of fun they would be having while dominating their opponents.

Cornerback/Free Safety
Current Starters: Trumaine Johnson, Daryl Roberts, Brian Poole)/(Marcus Maye
Historical Players: Aaron Glenn, Ronnie Lott, Ty Law, Antonio Cromartie Ronnie Lott, Ed Reed

Because of the caveat of not allowing Darrelle Revis to be a selection, it obviously makes it much harder. However, when it comes to this particular position, it seems like an easy choice to me. Ronnie Lott will go down as one of the best, toughest players to ever play the game. Granted, he only played the safety position when he was with the Jets, but earlier in his career, he was a Hall of Fame caliber cornerback before making that position change. This position is the weakest on the current roster and adding a ballhawk of this caliber and with his physical makeup would instantly make this one scary secondary, given everyone stays healthy of course (looking at you Marcus Maye).