New York Jets: 5 Players Ready for a Breakout Season in 2011
The New York Jets were just a few key plays away from making the Super Bowl last season, and there is no doubt that if a few more players contributed on a positive note, they would have been headed to Dallas.
The past few seasons the Jets have gone out and added new stars to their team through both free agency and the draft.
Although this year could be no different, the Jets have fewer major holes that need to be fixed and may instead look to players already on the roster to fill the small weak spots.
Throw in the fact that free agency is frozen, and the Jets are really going to have to depend on players that wore the green uniforms last season.
Many of these players will step into their new roles and struggle, showing why they have been backups the past few years.
Other guys, specifically the five on this list, will take advantage of their opportunity and have career-best seasons.
The following slideshow includes five New York Jets players that will have breakout seasons for "Gang Green."
As always, feel free to comment below.
Drew Coleman, CB
The New York Jets may have two of the best cornerbacks in the league in Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, but Drew Coleman has been very impressive in the limited time he has played.
Standing at only 5'9", Coleman is not exactly your prototypical NFL corner. However, the speedster was a star on the blitz and a tackling machine on the outside.
Coleman's most impressive stat is that he forced five fumbles last season, including two in a huge regular-season win against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Expect Rex Ryan to use Coleman even more on the edge next season, where he is a pro at the strip sack.
If there is a weakness in Coleman's game, it would be his pass coverage. With his small frame he struggles against bigger receivers. That being said, he did a solid job covering Wes Welker in the playoffs and matches up well against the slot receiver.
Coleman may have had a big season for the Jets last year, but this season will be the year that not just fans in New York, but fans around the league, will know his name. The only roadblock in the way of that happening is that Coleman is a free agent, and the Jets need to lock him up before someone else steals him away.
Mike DeVito, DE
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Most analysts believe that the Jets need to go after a defensive lineman in the first round of the NFL draft, and that is difficult to argue with. However, if the best player available plays another position, the Jets should have confidence in the current defensive line they have, and one of those players is Mike DeVito.
DeVito had a coming-out party last year, as he recorded 59 tackles, including seven solo tackles in the loss to the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game.
DeVito is great against the run and does a solid job of containing the edge on plays to the outside.
The biggest weakness of DeVito's game is his lack of pass-rush skills, as he only has half a sack in his entire NFL career.
The Jets should still go after a pass rusher in the draft this year, but on 3rd-and-2 Mike DeVito is going to show why he should be a starting defensive end in the NFL.
Sione Pouha, DT
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One of DeVito's partners on the defensive line is Sione Pouha, who replaced the injured Kris Jenkins at nose tackle.
Pouha ended up having a very good year for a defensive tackle, recording 59 tackles and two sacks.
Pouha was great for the Jets on first down and often started off the drive the right way for the defense.
Although he may be 30 pounds lighter than Kris Jenkins and better suited for the 4-3 defense, Pouha has stepped into the role he has been given and helped the Jets shut down opposing run games.
Pouha also does a great job of getting his hands in the passing lanes. He batted down three passes at the line last season.
Although Sione Pouha is not an every-down defensive tackle, he should play an increased role in the Jets' defensive plans moving forwards.
John Conner, FB
John Conner has already made a name for himself around the NFL after being mentioned quite a bit on Hard Knocks and after delivering one of the best hits of the year on an unsuspecting Carolina Panthers player (shown at left).
Now with Tony Richardson likely to retire, Conner will be able to step into the role of full-time fullback for the team.
Conner is only a second-year player and still has a lot to learn, but early signs show that not only can he throw his body around, but he is smart too.
Conner may have earned himself a few more carries this year after a solid game to finish off the regular season against the Buffalo Bills.
Don't expect to see Conner putting up massive numbers next season, but he will be a huge asset to the running game once he learns exactly what he is doing.
Jeff Cumberland, TE
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Another offensive player who is ready for a breakout season is Jeff Cumberland.
With two-tight-end formations becoming more and more popular and the division rival New England Patriots running them to perfection, the Jets are going to be looking for a player to pair up with Dustin Keller.
Cumberland will fill that role to perfection with his massive frame and great pass-catching ability.
While Keller plays a lot more like a receiver, Cumberland will be tough to stop when running a five-yard curl.
Throw in the fact that Mark Sanchez is still developing and can always use a safety valve like Cumberland, and a breakout season seems more and more likely.
Cumberland only had a single catch for three yards last season, but next year I expect him to be above 25 catches and with four or five touchdowns.