We're less than two weeks away from the start of yet another new era of the New York Jets football, the era of Robert Saleh and Zach Wilson. Wilson is the face of the franchise and his ability to perform at the pro level will determine whether Saleh will become a long term head coach that the franchise hasn't had since the days of Rex Ryan. But Wilson will go nowhere without his supporting cast on both sides of the football. Here's a look at the Gang Green's projected starters.
Quarterback: Zach Wilson is obviously the starter. The team chose not to bring an experienced backup and they really didn't have to. This isn't Vinny Testaverde's Jets of 1999 that were a top Super Bowl contender. These Jets will most likely finish 6-10 and if something happens to Wilson, then it's another 2-14, perhaps.
Running back: There isn't a clear starter here. Tevin Coleman, Ty Johnson and rookie Michael Carter will most likely share the load.
Wide receiver: Offseason acquisition Corey Davis is the clear #1 target. Keelan Cole will start on the other side and Jamison Crowder is in the slot. Rookie Elijah Moore and second year WR Denzel Mims are expected to also get their share of playing time.
Tight end: Chris Herndon is the projected starter in his make or break year. He was impressive in his rookie year in 2018, then missed entire season in 2o19 and showed some flashes in 2o20. Ryan Griffin, Trevon Wesco and Tyler Kroft are the backups.
Offensive line: This is arguably the best unit on this team. If they can protect Wilson and open up some running lanes, this team might be pretty exciting to watch. Connor McGovern anchors this unit at the center, flanked by rookie guard Alijah Vera-Tucker and Greg Van Roten. Mekhi Becton has the potential to become a dominant force at left tackle. Free agent acquisition, Morgan Moses, will start on the right side.
Defensive line: DT Quinnen Williams is the best Jets' defensive player and the only Jets who made this year's ESPN NFL 100 best players list. Another free agent, Sheldon Rankins, will start alongside Williams in the middle of this unit. The Jets lost their pass-rushing hope, Carl Lawson, to a season-ending injury and signed another Lawson as his replacement. Shaq Lawson, who has 20.5 career sacks, will start at defensive end. John Franklin-Myers or Bryce Huff will feature on the other side. Myers had 3 sacks in 15 games (2 starts) last year, while Huff had 2 sacks in 14 games.
Linebacker: C.J. Mosley is back and if he's anywhere near the form he was in the 2019 season opener, this unit will be one to be reckoned with. Jarrad Davis, who was projected to start at middle linebacker, is out for about 2 months. Rookie Hamsah Nasirildeen will start at the other OLB spot.
Cornerback: This is arguably the team's weakest spot. Bryce Hall and Blessuan Austin are the projected starters. Hall started in 7 games last year, while Austin started in 16 games over last two seasons. Rookie Michael Carter II will also see playing time, as well as Javelin Guidry (2 starts last year).
Safety: FS Marcus Maye is the best player of the Jets' secondary. He defended 11 passes in 2020 and also had 2 sacks. SS Lamarcus Joyner came from the Raiders where he started in 16 games over last two seasons. Second year S Ashtyn Davis, who has just been activated from PUP, is a backup along with Sharrod Neasman who came from Atlanta.
Place kicker: Matt Ammendola looked solid in preseason, converting 100% of his field goal attempts, including a 54-yarder.
Punter: Last year's 6-round pick Braden Mann had a solid rookie campaign in 2020 and is expected to only get better.
Punt returner: Braxton Berrios averaged 11.4 yards per return in 2019 and 8.6 yards per return in 2020.
Kick returner: Rookie Michael Carter II averaged 20.1 yards per return in his junior year.