New York Jets: Joe McKnight and Young Players Show a Lot of Hope for the Future

Chris FaigCorrespondent IDecember 16, 2011

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 17:  Quarterback Mark Sanchez #6 of the New York Jets hands off to running back Joe McKnight #25 of the New York Jets against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on November 17, 2011 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Jets 17-13.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Although the 2011-12 NFL season has been a complete roller-coaster ride for the New York Jets, they have now put themselves in position to make the playoffs, currently holding one of the AFC Wild Card spots.  Anything short of the playoffs is a disappointment to say the least. However, the future of the New York Jets is very bright with young players, such as RB Joe McKnight and WR Jeremy Kerley, contributing in big ways.

The key for Gang Green this season has been to stick together when diversity hits.  Rex Ryan does a great job of instilling his confidence into the team.  No matter what the outcome is after a game, Rex is looking at the next opponent ready to give them his best shot.  When the Jets lost three consecutive games in the beginning of the season, Ryan and the team didn't panic.  They simply prepare for their next battle and go hard for the win.

The key to a great team is having young players that they can call on when they need a big play.  The Jets have received that so far this season from Jeremy Kerley, Joe McKnight and Mark Sanchez.

Jeremy Kerley

Every team passed up on Jeremy Kerley at least a few times, and the Jets decided to snag him in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL draft.  He has made 18 receptions for 191 yards and one touchdown this season. Kerley has also fielded 21 returns for a total of 201 yards.

Just like his days at TCU, Kerley will make more of an impact once he gets more touches.  In his sophomore season, he caught 11 passes for 95 yards, while in his senior year he made 56 receptions for 575 yards and 10 touchdowns. 

Kerley was also the main return man at TCU, earning over 1,000 net yards returning punts in his final three seasons, scoring two touchdowns.  Don't be surprised if he brings one back for a touchdown before season's end. 


Joe McKnight

While Kerley fields more of the punt returns, Joe McKnight has been a gem for special teams other then a few minor errors.  After looking terrible in his rookie season, McKnight's future was uncertain. But the Jets saw the potential that McKnight has and have developed him quite quickly.

In only 29 return attempts, Joe McKnight has recorded 940 yards and a touchdown.  Not only has McKnight been a key contributor to Gang Green's special teams, he also has been fairly decent when called upon to run the football.  With 40 rushing attempts, the USC product has gained 132 yards.  

As a quick, electrifying player, McKnight has a successful career ahead of him in the NFL.  No. 25 will be a dynamic part of this Jets team for years to come.


Mark Sanchez

Despite what many Jets fans may think, Mark Sanchez has really begun to turn his game around this season, exhibiting better late-game consistency and poise, as well as leadership.  Only three seasons in the National Football League, he has helped guide his team to two AFC Championship games, and is currently on pace to make the postseason this year yet again.

The wait for Sanchez to flourish into an elite quarterback may finally pay off in the near future.  As Jets fans desperately waited the past two seasons for consistent play from Sanchez, he continued to disappoint, other than a few solid playoff performances.  

Sanchez has been fascinating of late however, throwing for a total of seven touchdowns and only one interception in the last three games.

This season fans can hold their heads up high heading into the playoffs, with Mark Sanchez finally showing that he may be able to lead this team to a Super Bowl run.