Although the pain of the Buffalo loss is still lingering; I decided to take a look back at the season and dole out some recognition for the excellent season that it was. In the last week, most of the post-season awards articles I have read focus on your typical achievements, i.e. MVP, DPOY, and OPOY. Instead of rehashing what has been covered hundreds of times already, I decided to focus on three achievements from the Jets season that deserve praise.
Marcus Williams- 6 interceptions on the season (1st on the team, 5th in the NFL)
6 interceptions is impressive if you are the number one corner making ten million dollars a year; but as the fourth corner who only played in 27% of the snaps it is downright insane! Sure, you could argue that a large part of getting interceptions is due to luck, but it is also requires being in the right position to make a play when the opportunities arise. He was fantastic at jumping routes and getting his head around when the ball was thrown in his direction, something Jets fans should appreciate after multiple seasons of watching Kyle Wilson fail to do just that.
A lot of experts expect the Jets to cut Antonio Cromartie after the season; and it makes sense from both a football and financial perspective. So is Marcus ready to step up in to an increased role? Personally I definitely think so. He needs to work on his tackling in the open field, but his ball-hawking ability this season should increase his playing time come next fall. All in all a fantastic season for the formerly undrafted player out of North Dakota State that should earn him and his agent some well-deserved bargaining power the next time is up for a new contract.
Leonard Williams- a home run.
Most likely this award is going to go to Marcus Peters of the Chiefs, but the fact that the rookie out of USC is even in the conversation is gigantic to the New York Jets organization. Leonard’s rookie season, reminds me a lot of what the Jets got out of Wilkerson in his first year in the league. Great against the run, and got better as a push rusher as the season came to an end. They even finished with the same amount of sacks during their rookie campaign (3.0). If Williams can build upon this season for next year, it will be great for the Jets defense and it will give the organization some flexibility with the difficult decisions they have to make considering Wilkerson, Richardson and Big Snacks going forward. The Jets have been boom or bust when drafting defensive players in the first round; but it looks like they hit a homerun with Leonard; a great young player with a very high ceiling.
Bryce Petty winning the Bill Hampton Award
Finally, the achievement that could have the biggest impact on the Jets long-term success. The Bill Hampton award (voted on by the Jets equipment staff) is given to the rookie who best exemplifies professionalism in the locker room. He was the first QB to ever win this award, which should speak volumes about his character. Now obviously the more important piece to his long-term success is going to be his play on the field, but this award shows he knows what it takes to be successful off the field, something Geno Smith has never shown Jets fans. Of course, Petty is at least another season or two away from being considered for the coveted title of QB1, but Jets fans have to be impressed with the way he carried himself in his first season as a pro. If he can continue to improve on the field over the next 2 years, the Jets potentially have found themselves someone worthy of being called a franchise QB.