The dying 2010s could’ve gone better for the New York Jets, but these players provided cherished memories.
New York Jets football in the 2010s went in furiously but a feeble finish en route to a hopeful future awaits.
A decade of emotions officially ends for the Jets this week, as the calendar decalogue of the 2010s began with consecutive trips to the AFC title game and concludes with the team nursing one of the longest playoff droughts in football.
If nothing, however, the Jets provided Sunday excitement in numerous forms, evidenced by ESNY’s all 2010s squad…
(Accounts all games played from January 2010-December 2019)
QB: Mark Sanchez (2010-12)
Sanchez was eventually revealed to be yet another false savior in the star-crossed history of Jets franchise quarterbacks. But he began the decade by reaching heights the team has yet to experience again.
Sanchez’s magnum opus came in the 2011 AFC Divisional Playoffs, where he pulled off the impossible: beat the Patriots in Foxboro. He was anything but a bystander to the tune of three touchdown passes in the 28-21 win that got the Jets to their second straight AFC title game. Sanchez ends the decade leading the Jets in nearly all major quarterback categories, including touchdown passes (56), yards (9,648), and wins (25)…as well as the not so pretty tallies like interceptions (49).
This spot could’ve gone to one-season wonders like Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh McCown, but Sanchez’s postseason success separated him from the rest of the group. Could another USC product reside in this slot when we make a similar list in 2029?
RB: Bilal Powell (2011-present)
Ever since joining the Jets as a fourth-round pick, the Louisville alum has been a reliable presence in the New York backfield. Over the decade, his average rush of 4.33 yards-per-carry ranks 15th in the NFL (among rushers with at least 800 carries), ahead of more renowned names like Todd Gurley, Chris Johnson, and Frank Gore. Powell was set to retire after suffering a neck injury midway through last season, but he worked his way back onto the Jets’ modern roster. He’s currently the longest-tenured member of the team.
RB: Shonn Greene (2010-12)
Greene also finds his way onto this list thanks to exploits from postseasons past. In the NFL’s first playoff game of the 2010s, Green got things rolling to the tune of 135 yards and a score in a 24-14 wild card weekend victory in Cincinnati. Triple digits awaited Greene on the west coast, as he put up 128 yards and what became the winning-touchdown from 53 out in what became a 24-14 divisional advancement against the San Diego Chargers.
His most famous postseason score came in the ensuing postseason, as his 16-yard rush in the penultimate minute clinched the aforementioned win over the Patriots. Greene earned 2,883 yards with the Jets over the decade, second behind Powell’s 3,648. His 16 touchdowns on the ground were tied with Chris Ivory for the most over that span.
WR: Robby Anderson (2016-present)
For all intents and purposes, Robby Anderson‘s NFL career should’ve ended before it began. It was a journey that began as an undrafted free agent out of Temple, fighting to be the mere fifth receiver on the roster. This decade now ends with Anderson at the top of all major catching categories with 204 receptions (tied with Jeremy Kerley), 3,041 yards, and 20 touchdowns. Time will only tell if the Teaneck, NJ native enters the new decade decked in green. He’s slated to hit free agency this offseason and has made a great case to future…or current…employers with a strong second half of the 2019 campaign.
WR: Brandon Marshall (2015-16)
The Jets were but a brief stop for the well-traveled Marshall, but he certainly made a lasting impression. During the 2015 season, Marshall became the first Jet to break triple-digits in receptions (109). He’d accompany that with 1,502 yards and 14 touchdowns (both good for at least a tie in the best single-season marks in franchise history) to create the most prolific season for a Jets catcher.
TE: Dustin Keller (2010-12)
A 2008 first-round pick, Keller is a tragic NFL case of what might have been. At the turn of the decade, Keller was becoming one of the league’s more reliable tight ends with the Jets. Over the 2010-11 seasons, Keller ranked seventh amongst NFL tight ends with 1,502 receiving yards. Keller also had a touchdown in each of the Jets’ trio of 2010 postseason games, including the touchdown that gave the Jets the lead for good against the Bengals.
Alas, injuries derailed Keller’s career after a career-best 815 yards in 2011. He played in just eight games in his final Jets season and a subsequent trip to Miami ended with a torn, ACL, MCL, and PCL, forcing him to retire early.
C: Nick Mangold (2010-16)
The only thing more infectious than Mangold’s on-field relentlessness was his larger than life personality. He began the decade by becoming the richest center in the NFL at the time via a seven-year, $55 million deal. He made the investment well worth it, to the tune of five Pro Bowl nominations throughout the course of the decade.
G: James Carpenter (2015-18)
Carpenter won a Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium as a member of the Seattle Seahawks in 2014. One year later, he inked a four-year deal with the Jets and stood out as one of their more consistent blockers. Injuries derailed the final stanzas of his Jets career, and he wound up signing with the Atlanta Falcons over the previous offseason.
G: Brian Winters (2013-present)
One of the longer-tenured Jets on the current roster, Winters has turned out to be quite the hidden gem from 2013’s third round. While he’s struggled to put a full 16-game slate together, he’s been a reliable blocker and earned himself a four-year contract extension in January 2017.
T: D’Brickashaw Ferguson (2010-15)
Jets fans relentlessly booed the drafting of Ferguson in 2006, angrily demanding the selection of Matt Leinart instead. While Leinart would spend eight listless seasons in the league, Ferguson became one of the most reliable players in recent NFL memory. He missed a mere single snap over a decade of NFL action, totaling 10,707 plays in the regular season. Few players are shoo-ins on the Jets’ MetLife Stadium Ring of Honor, but Ferguson is as sure of an invitee as it gets.
T: Kelvin Beachum (2017-present)
The former Pittsburgh Steeler and Jacksonville Jaguar arrived in 2017 and has been a consistent presence on a roller-coaster Jets offense. Beachum has also made a big mark on the community. Last season, he was the team’s Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, honored for his work in children’s education and combating hunger.
DL: Leonard Williams (2015-19)
Another polarizing premiere pick from USC, Williams burst onto the NFL scene with 10 sacks over his first two seasons. His sophomore campaign featuring seven of those sacks and three forced fumbles landed him in the Pro Bowl at the end of the 2016 season. Williams’ lasting legacy may be his status as the last “survivor” of the ill-fated 2015 draft class. He didn’t make it to the end of the decade, though, as he was dealt to the New York Giants earlier this season.
DL: Muhammad Wilkerson (2011-17)
A rare first-round pick from Temple, the fiery Wilkerson immediately made his presence felt with the Jets. In a preseason showdown with the Giants, Wilkerson got into a brouhaha with Brandon Jacobs, with both getting ejected. His first Jets sack was a safety in a Jersey-based win over Jacksonville. Injuries perhaps prevented Wilkerson from truly fulfilling his potential on the Jets’ front line, but he still earned two more All-Pro nominations before his time in green ended in 2017.
DL: Sheldon Richardson (2013-16)
Richardson had to deal with a lot from the get-go. After all, the pick used to choose him 13th overall in the 2013 draft was acquired from Tampa Bay in exchange for franchise face Darrelle Revis.
His debut year was a wild journey toward top defensive rookie honors. He would earn 78 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and even a one-yard touchdown in a December visit to Carolina en route to a narrow victory over Buffalo’s Kiko Alonso. His sophomore campaign got off to a rocky start via an ejection in Green Bay, but eight sacks and a safety were part of a Pro Bowl-nominated season.
LB: David Harris (2010-16)
During his Jets journey in the 2010s, Harris played all but one of a possible 112 regular-season games. Such durability allowed him to create some big tallies, reaching triple figures in tackles in four consecutive seasons (2012-15). Harris’ biggest New York moment came in the historic victory over the Patriots in the 2011 playoffs. His first-quarter interception of Tom Brady began to plant the seeds of an upset, as that turnover was Brady’s first in 340 attempts over the course of the 2010-11 season.
LB: Calvin Pace (2010-15)
A former first-round pick of the Cardinals, Pace was able to make a difference with another franchise upon joining the Jets in 2007. Another hero of the famous 2011 trek to Gillette, Pace had a 12-yard sack of Tom Brady in that game that kept the mighty New England offense at bay. Pace ranks fourth in team history in tackles for a loss (65).
LB: Demario Davis (2012-15, 2017)
Davis was with New York at two separate points in the decade. The Jets certainly enter the new decalogue regretting they were unable to retain their 2012 third-round pick from Arkansas State. Despite spending 2016 in Cleveland and now serving in New Orleans, Davis ranks second amongst Jets in the decade in total tackles (473). Pro Football Focus ranked Davis’ final season as a Jet eighth-best amongst all qualified linebackers.
LB: Jordan Jenkins (2016-present)
The temptation was there to put Bart “Can’t Wait” Scott in this slot, but a modern Jet is slowly making a long-term case to stick around for the latest rebuild. Despite playing in only 59 games (49 starts), Jenkins ranks third amongst Jets linebackers in sacks (19.5) in this decade, and has also put up 149 tackles, 20 good for a loss (both tied for sixth in the same span and group). He’s set to become a free agent this offseason, but if he re-signs, we could see a lot more Jenkins jerseys at MetLife Stadium in the future.
CB: Darrelle Revis (2010-12, 2015-16)
Any Jets “best of” list, no matter the time period, would more than likely be incomplete without a visit to Revis Island. Countless elite receivers were lost in the legendary location. For example, Revis began the decade with back-to-back shutdowns of Chad Ochocinco. The first came in the final game at Giants Stadium, while the latter came in the AFC Wild Card round.
Playoff success, at least in New York (Revis would win a Super Bowl as a member of the Patriots), eluded the legendary defender, but he still managed to create unforgettable green memories. For example, Revis’ interception of Tony Romo set up the game-winning kick on the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 tragedies. Later in that 2011 season, he took a Matt Moore interception back a franchise-record 100 yards in a 24-6 Monday night victory over Miami.
CB: Antonio Cromartie (2010-13, 2015)
Opposing quarterbacks were often so intent on avoiding Revis, they would throw toward Cromartie. The veteran defender took advantage, topping the Jets’ decade lists in interceptions (13) and pass defenses (63). Cromartie also established himself as a dangerous returner. His strong return in the late stages of a 2010 wild card win over Indianapolis helped set up a game-winning field and commence a trek to the AFC title game.
S: Jamal Adams (2017-present)
Another name destined to appear on the team of the 2020s, Adams has wasted no time in turning himself into a New York football icon. Vocal, competitive, and publicly determined to help lead the Jets out of the abyss of perpetual rebuilding, Adams has made an impact ever since his entry as 2017 first-round pick. This current season has been marred by rumors and calamities, some involving the powerful safety himself, but he has proven himself to be a consistent highlight, to the tune of 6.5 sacks this, a number often unheard of from the secondary.
After missing the Pro Bowl after his rookie season, Adams swore he’d never miss another. That promise has held true thus far, as he has been nominated to both subsequent all-star games. He would go on to earn co-MVP honors alongside Patrick Mahomes after his first exhibition back in January.
S: Marcus Maye (2017-present)
Adams notwithstanding, consistency amongst Jets safeties was hard to come by throughout the decade. Maye is slowly bucking that trend and figures to be a force in the secondary for the foreseeable future. Adams’ brother in SEC service, Maye set a franchise-record last season with a showstopping 104-yard interception return to end a win over Denver…only, in true Jets fashion, to be stopped one-yard short of taking it in for a touchdown.
K: Nick Folk (2010-16)
Left for football dead by Dallas, Folk went on to earn several clutch triples when the Jets claimed him, including the game-winner against Indianapolis in the 2010 playoffs. Folk’s rate of 91.7% during the 2013 season is tied for the best single-season mark in team history alongside Jason Myers’ Pro Bowl campaign in 2018 (his long season in New York).
P: Lac Edwards (2016-present)
The Australian transplant has been used a bit more often than the Jets would like to see, but he has been mostly reliable over the years to the tune of a 45.5 average boot.
LS: Tanner Purdum (2010-16)
It’s not often you see alumni from NAIA schools like Baker partaking in the NFL, but Purdum made a respectable career out of it. To date, he’s the most recent member of a Jets roster to partake in a New York playoff game.
KR: Joe McKnight (2010-12)
The USC running back held a lot of roles with the Jets, even taking some snaps in the secondary. He was best known for his prowess at kick return, with his career average return of 28.7 ranking fourth in NFL history. Injuries detailed the rest of McKnight’s football career. He was tragically killed in December 2016 in a road rage incident.
PR: Andre Roberts (2018)
Kerley mostly held down punt return duties during the decade, but Roberts made the biggest impact in just a single season. His 14.1 average return ranks second-best in single-season Jets history, and his efforts were rewarded with Pro Bowl and All-Pro nominations.
Head Coach: Rex Ryan (2010-14)
The Jets were at their most prideful, boastful under Ryan…and few could deny their most successful. Ryan’s arrogance to the outside world was, in contrast, dedication and confidence to his players, who rallied around their polarizing boss however and whenever they could. His schtick eventually wore thin amongst New York brass, but there was no denying that Ryan’s players always carried a soft spot for him, evidenced by their improbable back-to-back conference final runs at the start of the decade.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490