The 2020 Jets hope to kick off the new decade by snapping a nine-year playoff drought.
There was plenty of roster turnover this offseason, but the question remains: Does new necessarily mean better?
Tom Brady’s departure ostensibly gives hope to the rest of the AFC East, but will the Jets be the team to finally knock the Patriots off their perch as division rulers?
I’ll be revealing my Top 20 players on the roster every weekday for the next four weeks in the run-up to training camp.
This list is made up of the players who I believe will make the most impact for Adam Gase’s team this season. The ranking isn’t simply based on a player’s resume. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.
So, we’re peering into our crystal ball and taking some leaps of faith. There’s some quality young talent on Gang Green’s roster. Some of those guys are poised to take their games to the next level.
Get ready for some surprises.
2019 ranking: Unranked
Position: Defensive tackle
Age at the start of the season: 34
2020 salary cap charge: $2.83 million
Contract status: One-year, $2.5 million extension (signed Oct. 2019)
2019 Season in Review:
McLendon was a rock along Gregg Williams’ stout defensive line that helped the Jets shut down the run. The Jets were tied for the stingiest rushing yards per attempt (3.3) and finished second behind the Buccaneers for fewest rushing yards per game (86.9).
McLendon played an integral role with career-highs in tackles for loss (10) and quarterback hits to go along with 2.5 sacks and 36 tackles. The veteran leader was rewarded with a one-year extension in October.
McLendon, who was tied with Jamal Adams for most tackles for loss on the team, fared well against the pass as well. He recorded a career-high 18 pressures on 218 pass-rush snaps, according to analytics site jetsxfactor.com.
McLendon is riding high off arguably his most productive season. There’s no denying his terrific influence on young players like Quinnen Williams, but can he duplicate his on-field production at the age of 34?
It’d been foolish to count McLendon out as he enters his 12th NFL campaign. He’s the embodiment of hard work and sacrifice.
“I believed in me,” said McLendon, who was undrafted. “I knew how many years I wanted to play in the league. And I’m there. And that’s one of the biggest blessings.”
McLendon, who logged 42.2% of the defensive snaps in 2019, should be able to play an important role in the trenches again. Although Foley Fatukasi showed promising signs last season, depth is the key up front.
McLendon’s fully aware that he’s in the twilight, but remains optimistic about his team’s chances to dethrone the Patriots without Tom Brady.
“I feel like (the division) has always been open since we all put on our pads the exact the same way,” McLendon said. “I try not to lose focus on us. That’s what it’s all about. So, I’m not really thinking about Tom Brady. He has a team that he has to put together to make sure that they are ready to go. And we have to do the exact same.”
“(The Patriots) have won more than we did. But it’s a new year. It’s a new time.”
Next on the Countdown: A proud player hoping to bounce back.
No. 20: P Braden Mann
No. 19: DL Foley Fatukasi
No. 18: WR Denzel Mims
No. 17: DL Kyle Phillips