Jachai Polite Kelechi Osemele
ESNY Graphic, AP Photo

There are a handful of crucial players who’ll make or break the New York Jets during the 2019 NFL regular season.

Robby Sabo

Completed. Save for a few veteran cap-casualty signings in the summer and an unexpected trade or two, the New York Jets 2019 roster is set.

Prognosticators are already having a field day. The next step, the same old Jets and even playoffs have been bandied about the wonderful world of the football prediction game.

For a playoff appearance to turn possible, the right players have to hit. We know Sam Darnold is a future. Everybody knows Le’Veon Bell is a workhorse. The entire league knows Jamal Adams is the best safety in the league. (Well, they know he’s one of the best; this season, he’ll cement his “best in the NFL” status.)

Playoffs can only become a reality of the most crucial players hit that high note. There are several crucial Jets employees who’ll need to make magic for the 53-man depth chart to turn special.


Quincy Enunwa must remain healthy. It’s as simple a statement as it is true.

Enunwa, 26, has never been able to stay on the field. Interestingly, the Jets awarded him with a four-year, $36 million deal with $20 million guaranteed while coming off an injury. Enunwa finished 2018 the way he started 2017: injured.

Of a possible 80 career games, Q has only dressed in 40. He missed the entire 2017 season and missed four games in 2015. The 2016 season showcases his lone complete campaign.

In fairness, Enunwa’s rookie season that limited him to just one game dealt more with rookie status. Still, 40 games played in 64 chances represents an injury-prone career.

Behind Enunwa, there isn’t much. Fans should feel good about the Jets weaponry as a whole, but the depth is questionable. A Robby Anderson injury wouldn’t hurt as much based on his skill set. As a straight-line burner, other principles can take hold. Enunwa is Darnold’s lone true possession receiver who can do everything on the field. His underneath game is invaluable to the kid quarterback at the moment.

Trumaine Johnson’s importance speaks for itself. He’s the team’s No. 1 corner and needs to come to the 2019 party with authority. If the Jets four-man pass rush gets the job done, the corner situation will be alright. Darryl Roberts is severely underrated.

The tackle duo of Kelvin Beachum and Brandon Shell is not prime time. Beachum’s character is top notch, serving the NFL community as great as anybody today. Shell, whose NFL bloodlines run deep, is now on the clock thanks to the Chuma Edoga selection.

Both tackles (while throwing Edoga in the mix) need to put a better foot forward this season.

3. Kelechi Osemele

For the third straight offseason showcasing a desperate need at offensive line, Mike Maccagnan did little to address the issue. If you’re one who believes the addition of 30-year-old Kelechi Osemele in favor of James Carpenter will solve the problem, it’s time to pay money for ice cubes.

All eyes are on Osemele; he must be the Pro Bowl-type individual he was two years ago. He has to stay healthy. Without him, the Sam Darnold development game is in serious jeopardy.

2. Jachai Polite

Speaking of massive needs, here comes the edge. And just like the O-line, another offseason has come and gone without a legitimate solution.

Kentucky’s Josh Allen was right there at No. 3. New York hedged its bets on big Quinnen Williams, who’s undoubtedly a stud. But not attempting to complete the defensive unit without one stud outside-pass rusher is a serious situation.

Third-round Jachai Polite can put an end to the conversation. He was awful at the NFL Combine, putting up horrid numbers. Many blame an injury while others cite motivational issues.

Jordan Jenkins, who serves as the top edge at the moment, is not a subpackage pass rusher. He’s an excellent balanced edge, especially in the base, but two speed-rushers are needed for passing downs. Polite has to work. If not, there’s nothing on the roster which means offensive coordinators will once again simply worry about the interior.

Sure, the interior game is how Tom Brady is beaten, but the interior game doesn’t work if the defense is critically incomplete. The outside presence has to be there.

1. Jonotthan Harrison

Jonotthan Harrison, the man in the middle, is, by far, the Jets most crucial player at the moment.

No Erik McCoy or Connor McGovern (who could have possibly played center) means Harrison is the Jets man. Questions surround his athleticism within Adam Gase’s zone-rushing attack which means, at the very least, some form of competition was required this summer.

In any event, this is where the Jets are at, again, for the third straight season (hello Wesley Johnson and Spencer Long). The offensive line’s importance is the most critical aspect for not only the New York Jets in 2019, but Sam Darnold’s development moving forward.

Jonotthan Harrison is the most crucial player on the roster.

Robby Sabo is a co-founder, CEO and credentialed New York Jets content creator for Jets X-Factor - Jet X, which includes Sabo's Sessions (in-depth film breakdowns) and Sabo with the Jets. Host: Underdog Jets Podcast with Wayne Chrebet and Sabo Radio. Member: Pro Football Writers of America. Coach: Port Jervis (NY) High School. Washed up strong safety and 400M runner. SEO: XL Media. Founder: Elite Sports NY - ESNY (Sold in 2020). SEO: XL Media. Email: robby.sabo[at]jetsxfactor.com