When the Jets traded fourth and sixth round picks for Tim Tebow in late March, a media circus ensued. Tebow is one of the most controversial and polarizing players in the NFL, and wherever he goes, headlines are sure to follow.
Ignoring the media frenzy of Tebow, the potential hold-out of Darrelle Revis, the constant questioning of quarterback Mark Sanchez's skills, and the ever-present sideshow that is Santonio Holmes, here are some players that will be making headlines on the field this season for the New York Jets.
These are some of the unsung heroes on the Jets' roster that deserve their dues and are poised to repeat the breakout seasons they enjoyed last year.
The New York Jets were ranked 22nd in the NFL last year in rushing yards. Without any major offseason halfback acquisitions, one might think they aren't expecting to improve this stat in 2012.
Shonn Greene quietly rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2011. While he averaged 4.1 YPC, he only eclipsed 100 yards in a game twice and only scored in four contests last year. Look for these numbers to go up as the Jets move towards a more even offensive attack.
Also helping Greene's 2012 campaign will be any option packages featuring Tim Tebow under center. Tebow's mobile threat opened the field up for Denver RB Willis McGahee last season, helping him rush for almost 1,200 yards (more than his previous two years as a backup in BAL combined) and average 4.8 YPC (a career high as a team's primary back).
There was once a time when there were serious doubts as to whether Joe McKnight would make the Jets' roster.
Flash forward two years—while McKnight hasn't become the RB fans hoped he would be when the Jets moved up in the fourth round to take him, he has found his niche with Gang Green.
Under the guidance of special teams guru Mike Westhoff, McKnight has emerged as one the NFL's best return men, leading the league in return yards per attempt (31.6) this past season and finishing fourth in total return yards (1073).
McKnight is a game-changer on special teams capable of sparking the offense before they even set foot on the field. Hopefully he has a more 100+ yard returns in him for this upcoming season.
After two disappointing seasons with the Bills, Aaron Maybin was waived by Buffalo. His time in a Bills uniform was eerily similar to Vernon Gholston's in New York.
Maybe it was the move to Rex Ryan's defense, maybe it was a wave of good karma after Gholston didn't pan out, maybe it was just Maybin finally feeling comfortable in the NFL. Either way, he had a break out season in his first year as a Jet, leading the team in sacks (6) and forced fumbles (4).
This offseason, he bulked up, aiming to hit the Jets' target weight of 250 lbs. A full offseason spent learning the Jets' defensive schemes and his new frame are both inclinations he will be set to have another monster season in 2012.
Through his first three seasons, Jets QB Mark Sanchez has built a strong on-field rapport with Dustin Keller. The tight end is clearly Sanchez's favorite target, especially in third down situations.
In 2012, Keller lead the Jets in receptions (65) and in receiving yards (815), the latter comprising roughly 23 percent of Sanchez's 3,474 passing yards. Amidst all this production, he only scored five touchdowns last season.
With the departure of last year's main red-zone target Plaxico Burress, Keller will see even more opportunities near the end zone this season.
In a defense with talents like Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie and personalities like Bart Scott and Rex Ryan, it's easy to lose track of a guy who quietly goes about his business.
David Harris has been the Jets leading tackler the last three years, and in 2011 was tied for the team lead in interceptions (4), and second in sacks (5). He is arguably one of the best NFL linebackers nobody seems to talk about.
With the drop off of Bart Scott, Harris should take the reigns of the defense this year, and if he continues to put up numbers like he did last season, people will have no choice but to write about him.