The Jets' offense is going to be a totally different animal this season. Not only is new head coach Adam Gase bringing in his new schemes, but there are some new offensive weapons for Sam Darnold to work with as well.
Le'Veon Bell is the obvious big addition, while Jamison Crowder is expected to make an immediate impact out of the slot. Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson will also be back looking to make big impacts after their solid seasons in 2018.
But there is one more weapon that stays under the radar thanks to these other names. Tight end Chris Herndon, the Jets' fourth-round draft pick last season, quietly had an intriguing rookie campaign.
The Miami product wants to build on that heading into the new season, and his improvement goal has already begun at OTAs.
"I want to improve from last year," Herndon told newyorkjets.com Olivia Landis. "I want to continue to do what they [the coaches] ask of me and even more. Just try to be that player that takes that next step and be more dependable in games and try to put more on my shoulders and more on myself to hold myself more accountable."
Herndon didn't jump off the page stat-wise, collecting 502 yards on 39 receptions with four touchdowns. But what he did develop was trust from Darnold, especially in the end zone. At 6-foot-4, Herndon's ability to go up and get the ball made him a favorite target for Darnold, one that could see more end zone celebrations in his sophomore season.
Of course, there were some bumps in the road, as every rookie will have. However, Herndon learned quickly what it takes to be successful in this league, and one of those things is always staying locked in.
"Staying focused and not being complacent," Herndon said. "Not trying to focus on what I did the previous week or the previous play and having the next-up mentality for the next play. Trying to bring my all to each practice, each workout, each meeting, and hoping it translated to the game. I feel like it worked pretty well for me."
Herndon may have been slightly tenative in his first season to soak everything in, but that will be different this time around. He's attacking this year head on, and that's always good when a new offense is put in place. He explained how Gase is teaching it pretty quickly, which has made every player stay up on their playbook studying.
"You never know what's going to be thrown in the next day, so before you move on you have to make sure you have what you learned today down because it's not going to slow down any more than it already is," Herndon said. "So staying on top of things and constantly studying and constantly asking questions and making sure that you're not making the same mistakes from the previous practice will help."
Herndon figures to be the Jets' main tight end, though they did draft Trevon Wesco out of West Virginia, who some have likened to Rob Gronkowski. It will be some good competition for Herndon going into training camp, but nothing he didn't see in his rookie year.
Granted he gets that starting role, Herndon is looking for an even bigger impact in 2019. Yes, players like Bell and Crowder are going to get more touches and targets, but that doesn't mean Darnold won't be looking in the middle of the field for No. 89. He has shown he can be a deep threat, and make plays after the catch.
So, while those other offensive weapons stay in the spotlight, Herndon will continue to grind and hopefully be the Jets' secret weapon in 2019.