Last week, the Jets made the decision to release Adrian Amos, allowing the safety to look for a starting opportunity elsewhere. Despite Amos playing sparingly, it seemed like a strange decision to cut a player loose and deplete their depth, especially a veteran like Amos who brought plenty of experience to a relatively young secondary.

The Jets willingness to let Amos go was likely due to the continued improvement of Ashtyn Davis, who was responsible for a marquee play last Sunday. With Atlanta backed up, they handed the ball off to Bijan Robinson. Davis read it instantly and steamrolled the fullback into Robinson for a safety. It was an incredible play that showcased Davis’ ability to make things happen on the field.

The Jets have had to be patient with Davis after taking him in the 3rd round out of Cal back in 2020. Playing over 400 snaps as a rookie, Davis became the starter in 2021, but struggled to solidify his place, losing his spot to LaMarcus Joyner in 2022 and Tony Adams this year. But through it all, his personality and his professionalism have remained. Davis is often singled out by the coaches and he’s certainly a favourite of Brant Boyer for his special teams contributions, but we’re starting to see signs of development in his defensive performances.

A lot of people don’t know that for much of Davis’s high school career, he was more renowned for his track efforts than his football ones. When he decided to join the Cal track team he was lacking in football scholarship opportunities. His track coaches at Cal said they’d rescind his scholarship if he walked onto the football field, but Davis wanted to play football. Instead of playing as a wide receiver as he did in high school, he found a home at slot cornerback before being moved to free safety in 2017.

What we need to remember is that Davis only had two years of starting free safety experience when the Jets made him the 68th overall selection in the draft. Despite making First Team All-Pac-12 in 2018, he was still learning the nuances of the position. His athletic ability was unquestioned; he was fast and physical, but he was also undisciplined. The Jets must have known that coming in, and while his opportunities diminished, he’s never stopped developing.

Over the last few years, he’s had to deal with some injuries, missing most of the 2021 off-season thanks to a foot injury that required surgery. He’s also had to deal with some inconsistencies and plenty of fan criticism. For many, he appeared to be an easy cut last off-season, with plenty of experts circling his name as a way for the Jets to create cap space. But when preseason began, there he was.

Head Coach Robert Saleh has often spoken about the need to be patient with players and how players develop at different speeds. It would have been easy to give up Davis, but with Amos gone, there will be opportunities for him to develop through on-field playing time down the back stretch.

We’re starting to see some signs of life. There was the interception against Patrick Mahomes in week four and Josh Allen in week 11, there was the play from last Sunday and a number of special team contributions that go unnoticed on a weekly basis.

The unfortunate reality for the Jets is that the playoffs now appear to be slipping further and further away, but lost seasons don’t exist in the NFL. If we can’t make the playoffs this season, we need to use the rest of the season to evaluate the talent on the roster.

Having just turned 27, Ashtyn is about to hit NFL free agency for the first time and I’m sure his athletic profile alone will draw attention from several teams. We can use the rest of the season to evaluate what his role will be going forward, and that’s not just limited to him. There’s a certain QB who’s about to undergo an audition for the 2024 season too.

The Jets will be hoping for a couple of late developers.