The 2008 season is—without a doubt—a disappointment. But that doesn’t mean we were left without anything to smile about. The New York Jets can boast having seven players selected to the Pro Bowl, and a strong foundation established for the future.
With the season in the books, there are plenty of players who deserve recognition for what they accomplished. And I’ve made it my responsibility to let them know how much we appreciate them.
Let’s take a moment away from the drama, away from the head coach search, and away from fearing what the future holds. Let’s honor the players that gave us something to cheer about for at least nine weeks this season.
RB/KR Leon Washington
For the second straight season, Leon Washington has been the Jets’ only spark plug. It doesn’t matter where he was on the field. He was the Jets’ best player every time he touched the ball. He terrifies a defense and completely alters the momentum of a game. Whether it’s a kick return, a run up the middle, or a screen pass, Leon Washington proves every week that he deserved more touches than he received!
Comeback Player of the Year
RB Thomas Jones
He served me a big plate of crow this season. After his 2007 season, I was convinced that he wasn’t the right man for the starting job anymore. I wanted to see Leon receive the bulk of the carries and see the staff admit he was a mistake. I was wrong. He completely changed his running style, attacking the hole like he trusted his line. Receving his first Pro Bowl selection, Jones led the AFC in rushing and looks to have a few more great seasons in his legs.
Rookie of the Year
TE Dustin Keller
Thank goodness the Jets traded to get back in the first round last April. Vernon Gholston has been a huge disappointment, but the emergence of Dustin Keller made it all okay. He caught defenses off-guard when he proved to be a sure-handed target on third downs. He eventually slowed down and still made some unfortunate drops throughout the season, but the potential is there.
Close second: CB Dwight Lowery – He was eventually targeted by QBs looking to prey on his inexperience, but he has the potential to be a great CB opposite of Darrelle Revis. With a full season under his belt, he should be better in his second year.
Offensive Player of the Year
QB Brett Favre
For all the dislike many Jets’ fans have for him this year, his contributions are still important. The fun balls sucked, as did the interceptions. But there are games we know we would’ve lost without him. He spread the ball around to different receivers, finding new favorites every few games. One play to think of for Favre: a touchdown pass in Tennessee thrown while on the run right between double coverage. It’s the good with the bad.
Close second: RB Thomas Jones
Defensive Player of the Year
NT Kris Jenkins
No surprises here. He’s the one that made the entire defense work. When New York was at it’s best was when Jenkins was at his best. When teams found ways to neutralize him—and when his body stopped cooperating—the entire defense suffered. When you think of the Jets’ defense, he should be the only person that comes to mind.
Close second: CB Darrelle Revis – If the Jets secondary wasn’t so awful in 2008, he might have been the Defensive Player of the Year. Revis kept the receivers he guarded in check. He’s on his way to his first Pro Bowl in only his second year, and should be the Jets’ shutdown corner for years.
Best Free Agent Signing
OLB Calvin Pace
When the Jets were committed to rushing the passer, Calvin Pace was the man that stepped up and made it look easy. Fans were worried about him as many had no idea who he was, or why the Jets gave so much money to a guy who looked to be the second-coming of Bryan Thomas. But Pace was the most solid defender in the front-seven all year. He could sack the quarterback, stop the run, and provide decent coverage against the pass.
Close second: LG Alan Faneca – He was exactly what the doctor ordered to play between young standouts Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson. In 2007, the Jets had a liability at LG which made the entire offense suffer. Faneca brought his experience and Pro Bowl reputation to New York, and helped push Jones forward to the best season of his career.
Coach of the Year
ST Mike Westhoff
He wasn’t even supposed to the be with the Jets this season. He was supposed to take this year to recover and pay more attention to his health. Then he saw the turmoil this team was in with Kevin O’Dea, returned to the Jets, and helped Leon Washington receive his first Pro Bowl nod. He did what he could without a decent punter, and remains the very best in the business.