NFL New York Jets

New York Jets: 5 Players Facing Make or Break Seasons in 2013

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5 Jets Facing Make or Break Seasons

Cary Edmondson-USA Today Sports

It’s only been a few years since the New York Jets were in the AFC Championship game, but it feels like an eternity. Since playing in the penultimate game in 2010, the Jets have gone 8-8 and 6-10 the last two seasons. In another market, or with another coach, that might be acceptable. But in New York and with brash head coach Rex Ryan at the helm, much more is expected.

The 2013 season could be a transformative one for the entire franchise. Mark Sanchez, once thought to be the future of the Jets, will be under more pressure than he’s ever faced. The Jets selected West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith early in the second round and you know Jet fans will be clamoring to see him on the field.

New GM John Idzik is responsible for acquiring talent that will give the Jets a chance to compete once again. Thus far, he’s off to a shaky start to say the least. He signed quarterback David Garrard to try and create competition for Sanchez, but Garrard retired, citing injury concerns. Another signee, running back Mike Goodson, was arrested on May 17 for possessing a gun and drugs. Most think the Jets will have no recourse other than to release him.

So as the calendar turns from May to June, the Jets face a number of pressing questions. Who is going to be the quarterback? Can the defense return to form without Darrelle Revis? At this point, there’s no clear answer.

Here’s a look at five Jets who face make or break years in 2013.

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5.) Joe McKnight

Matthew Emmons-USA Today Sports

It had to be a scary offseason for Jets running back Joe McKnight. The Jets brought in the aforementioned Mike Goodson and former New Orleans Saints running back Chris Ivory. When asked about what those signings meant for his future, McKnight snapped at reporters. “I'm just tired of people running their mouths like I'm not going to be here," he said. "I'm just going to make it a point to prove I'm going to be here.”

With no touchdowns and only 502 yards rushing in his three-year career, it might be wishful thinking for McKnight. Goodson’s legal problems might be the only reason he is still on the team come 2013, but he still has to produce. He’s been above average on special teams, but the Jets backfield is filling up and he’ll need to offer more than that to warrant a spot on this team moving forward.

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4.) Willie Colon

Ron Chenoy-USA Today Sports

Colon was a very solid tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers during his eight-year stint in the Steel City. However, injuries forced him to move inside to guard, and even that didn’t prevent him from ending up on injured reserve. In his first year in New York, Colon will probably line up at right guard, assuming he can stay healthy. Once offensive lineman start compiling significant injuries, the end of their career usually isn’t too far away. If Colon can be solid on the inside in 2013, he could remain in the league for a while. But, if he gets injured again, it might be the end of the road for the veteran OL.

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3.) Santonio Holmes

Jason Bridge-USA Today Sports

It’s scary that Holmes will be the best target Jets quarterbacks will have to throw to in 2013. Holmes, once a top of the line wide receiver, has seen his production drop in recent years. Last year, he only played four games before being put on injured reserve with a Lisfranc injury. Reports indicate he will likely miss Jets minicamp in June as well.

Even if he is healthy, the Jets don’t have many offensive weapons to draw coverage away from Holmes. If he’s on the field, he’ll draw plenty of attention from opposing defenses. 2013 could be the return of Holmes, but more likely, it could continue the downward spiral his career is headed down.

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2.) David Harris

Kirby Lee-US Presswire

Harris signed his big contract in 2011, but hasn’t looked like the same player since. He still had a productive year in 2012 if you look at this tackle numbers, but it didn’t pass the eye test. In previous years, Harris was a slashing linebacker, playing downhill, hitting running backs at the line of scrimmage. Last year, he seemed a little more tentative. His cap number will grow in 2014 and could lead the Jets to cutting him after this season if he doesn’t return to form.

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1.) Mark Sanchez

Kevin Hoffman-USA Today Sports

Here’s the most obvious player to put on the list. As if having Tim Tebow wasn’t distracting enough for him last year, the Jets drafted the highest-rated quarterback on most people’s draft boards, West Virginia’s Geno Smith. Now Sanchez must once again try to prove he deserves to be the starting quarterback in the most intense media market in sports.

In reality, the Jets would have traded Sanchez this offseason if someone would have been willing to take on his large contract. Instead, the Jets will enter camp with a brewing quarterback controversy between Sanchez and Smith. Sanchez will be given an opportunity to hold onto the job, but Rex Ryan won’t have much patience. Ryan himself is on the hot seat in 2013 and will play whoever gives them the best chance to win. If he’s going down, he’ll do it his way. It remains to be seen if his way will include Sanchez.