Why Jermaine Johnson was the Jets’ most improved player in 2023

New York Jets linebacker Jermaine Johnson (11) reacts during the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at MetLife Stadium
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The 2023 season was a disappointment for the New York Jets. However, while the season was a flop, there were some positives on the team. Jermaine Johnson took a big step forward this season and was the most improved player for the Jets in 2023.

Jermaine Johnson bounced back from a disappointing rookie season

Johnson was one of the Big Three first-round picks that the Jets utilized in the 2022 NFL Draft, where they also secured Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and Garrett Wilson. Out of the three picks, Johnson proved to be somewhat of a disappointment in his rookie season.

He displayed raw talent with a lack of power, speed, and consistent pass-rushing moves. While he showed some promising qualities, consistency was a challenge, evident in his modest stat line of only 2.5 sacks.

However, it’s important to remember that player development in the NFL often takes around three years to fully assess. His second season, fortunately, showcased significant improvement.

Johnson took a massive step forward in 2023

Entering this season was a crucial period for Johnson, and he truly stepped up to the plate. Johnson recorded 7.5 sacks, a forced fumble, 55 tackles, and even secured a pick-six against the Cleveland Browns this season. His impressive performance made him one of the key contributors to the defense.

While Johnson may not have been the most dominant pass rusher—Bryce Huff applied more pressure to the quarterback— he undoubtedly stood out as the second-best DE/EDGE on the team. His strong season is instilling confidence in the coaching staff and potentially in the management, especially with Huff’s possible departure in free agency.

Johnson represented the Jets at the Pro Bowl Games

Johnson replaced Khalil Mack at the Pro Bowl Games this past weekend. Mack had an injury and as a result, was not able to participate in the Pro Bowl Games. So, this resulted in Johnson being able to take part as he was the designated injury replacement in this scenario.

Johnson joined both Quinnen Williams and Ahmad “Sauce” Gardener as one of the New York Jets’ representatives for the Pro Bowl Games. While the 2023 NFL Season was a flop for the Jets, at least there is some form of positivity with three players participating in the Pro Bowl Games.

Johnson is the most improved player on the New York Jets’ roster and had a much better 2023 season than he did as a rookie. The Jets have something in Johnson and if he continues to play the way he did this season, then he should be a piece of this defense for many more years to come.

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