Originally posted on cover32 - Jets  |  Last updated 1/13/14
It may not be the offseason for some teams, but the NFL season is surely over for the New York Jets. That means we’ll be running out a series of reflective articles here at cover32, peering back on some of the best and worse moments of the Jets’ 2013 season. Today, we look at the biggest surprises of 2013. Rex Ryan Ask hoards Jets fans at the start of the year if Rex would be back for 2014 and you probably would’ve gotten more no’s than yesses. Talk about swaying public opinion. If you took that same poll at the end of the season, you’d be hard presses to find anyone against Ryan’s return. It seemed like a no brainer after the Jets finished 8-8, surprising pretty much everyone in existence with their competence, defensive-line play, and ability to win close games. The players clearly wanted Rex back. The fans clearly wanted Rex back. As soon as the season ended, we found out that Woody Johnson and John Idzik wanted Rex back. Among factions, it was unanimous. And that’s a surprise in and of itself. Damon Harrison Be honest. You hadn’t heard of Harrison before this season. And if you had, you definitely hadn’t heard of him before last season. Harrison wasn’t a big prospect. He wasn’t drafted. He didn’t even play his college ball at a D-I school. Instead, he went to William Penn University in Oskaloosa, IA. But Harrison was a protypicly raw tackle. He had the size at 6-foot-4 and 350 pounds. He had the athleticism (he could actually 360 dunk when he was in college). Now, he just needed the coaching. In 2013, it paid off. ProFootballFocus.com graded Harrison as the Jets’ most effective defensive player this season. It also graded him as the best run-stopping defensive tackle in the entire NFL – by far. The numbers aren’t close. Harrison didn’t go from obscurity to the middle of the pack. He went from obscurity to the front of the line. He’s become one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL. And that is something that no one could’ve seen coming. Sheldon Richardson Like with Harrison, ProFootballFocus graded Richardson as one of the best defensive lineman from 2013. That was hardly expected, especially considering that Richardson was one of the more forgotten-about rookies taken in the first round from Last April’s draft. When the Jets took the Missouri product 13th overall last year, most people called it a reach. Some people called the pick unnecessary and said the Jets were better off picking an offensive player after taking cornerback Dee Milliner only four picks earlier. And even after all that, Richardson came out and dominated in his rookie season. ProFootballFocus rated him as the fifth-most effective 3-4 defensive lineman from this past year. He trailed only J.J. Watt, Calais Campbell, Kyle Williams, and Cameron Jordan. Those are dominant players. Those are Pro Bowlers. And Richardson is just a rookie. He’s going to get better. He’s going to get stronger. He’s going to get smarter. And he’s already dominant in most aspects of the game that a d-lineman can dominate. There’s a reason Richardson is a candidate for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. The actual win-loss record Seriously, who thought the Jets were going to finish 8-8? OK, I guess some people did. Even some people on this site did. But it was hard to look at a predicted .500 Jets’ finish back in August and immediately think of anything other than homerism or a lack of understanding football. But I guess those people understood football better than anyone else. Playing over their heads and finishing at .500 was exactly what the Jets did. Now, it’s time to progress in 2014. To read about the top receiver prospects for the Jets to look at in the upcoming draft, click here. Make sure you follow @cover32_NYJ and @cover32_NFL on Twitter for all the latest breaking news, columns, blogs and features from the Jets and the entire NFL. You may also be interested in:The biggest surprises of the Jets’ 2013 seasonWeekly Rewind: Ed Reed’s affect on Antonio Allen and more…What’s next for the Dolphins?
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