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Jets' roster magic: 46 players from Motown meltdown disappear

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Jets RBs flex plays vs Lions (0:53)

Matthew Berry is nervous about the Jets offense with Sam Darnold making his first start, but gives reasons to play New York's backfield. (0:53)

A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:

1. Debacle in Detroit: On Monday night, the Jets will be back in Detroit for the first time since Nov. 24, 2014 -- one of the worst losses in franchise history. Playing the Buffalo Bills on a Monday night -- the game was relocated because of a blizzard in Buffalo -- Rex Ryan's Jets were pathetic in a 38-3 defeat. It was so bad that Sheldon Richardson cried after the game.

Why dredge up such a bad memory on the eve of a season opener? Well, it illustrates how much has changed since that low point, which led to an organizational housecleaning.

The current 53-man roster includes only five holdovers from 2014, none of whom were in uniform that night -- a dramatic turnover even by NFL standards.

More telling: Of the 46 players who were active for the game, only nine remain on NFL rosters. One team insider called it the worst roster he'd ever seen. General manager Mike Maccagnan inherited the ultimate fixer-upper and transformed it into something respectable -- far from finished, but getting there.

Still, there are many doubters.

"I'd be shocked if the Jets made the playoffs," CBS analyst Phil Simms said. "I won't say shocked ... well, yeah, I'd be shocked. I'd be really surprised. Name me the guys who are going to win the game."

This season isn't about the playoffs. On second thought, it is -- the 2019 playoffs. This year will be a success if they can develop their young talent (starting with quarterback Sam Darnold) and add to it with another free agency/draft cycle, putting themselves in position to contend in 2019.

2. Survivors of the '14 debacle: In case you're wondering about the holdovers, here you go: running back Bilal Powell, wide receiver Quincy Enunwa, guard Brian Winters, guard Dakota Dozier and tackle Brent Qvale. Tackle Ben Ijalana, who dressed but didn't play in the 38-3 loss, is on injured reserve.

3. Anderson's "blanket" statement: It was a quiet preseason for Robby Anderson, who made only three catches for 23 yards, but he's ready to explode as he enters his third season. Anderson is thinking big (more on that in a second), but his immediate goal is to help Darnold, his rookie quarterback.

"I'm very comfortable, but I want Sam to be comfortable," Anderson said. "I want to be Sam's blanket, to make him look good and make the offense look good."

Except for one mugging-for-the-camera moment last season, the soft-spoken Anderson isn't your typical receiver in that he's not a self-promoter. He's the most exciting player on the Jets' offense, and he's ready to build on his 941-yard breakout year. He's on a grand mission.

"When you reach 1,000 yards, I think that's how you solidify yourself as a true No. 1 receiver -- a true NFL receiver -- and that's the thing I'm setting out to embrace and work for and achieve."

4. No rest for the soon-to-be-weary: By now, you know the Jets have to play three games in 11 days to open the season. If you think it's unusually excessive, you're right.

It marks only the second time in the Super Bowl era that it's happened, according to Elias. The other team was the 2013 Philadelphia Eagles. In case you're wondering, the Eagles went 1-2. They opened with a road win, then dropped two straight at home. They eventually won the NFC East.

The Jets have two on the road, including a dreaded Thursday night contest in Week 3.

5. Receiver on "out" pattern? ArDarius Stewart, who is serving a two-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, could get squeezed out when he returns. The Jets already have six receivers, and the 2017 third-round pick failed to distinguish himself in the preseason. His fate could hinge on potential injuries in the first two games.

6. A new Webb-site: Signing quarterback Davis Webb to the practice squad was a nice, no-risk move. Best-case scenario: He does enough on the practice field to stick around for the rest of the season and emerges as Darnold's backup in 2019. Worst case: He stinks and they cut him, no strings attached. No harm, no foul.

Could they flip him for a draft pick, a la Teddy Bridgewater? That's highly unlikely. Remember, he went unclaimed on waivers after being cut by the New York Giants. It speaks volumes when the league ignores a former third-round pick, especially a quarterback. It will be hard for him to raise his value before the offseason because he's not expected to play.

Webb and Darnold actually met a few years back, when Webb was a counselor for the Elite 11 quarterback camp and Darnold was a high school junior.

7. Jets keep streak alive: With Darnold poised to start, this will mark the 15th year at least one rookie quarterback started in Week 1 -- the longest streak in the NFL since 1950. Twenty rookies started from 2008 to 2017. Combined record: 141-162. Two Jets made the list: Mark Sanchez (8-7) and Geno Smith (8-8).

7.a. "QB Musical Chairs" for $200, Alex: Darnold. Josh McCown. Ryan Fitzpatrick. Smith, Sanchez.

Clue: Can you name the Jets' opening-day starters since 2012?

Heck, that's only one shy of the Cleveland Browns over that span.

8. Where are the hidden gems? A surprising number of undrafted rookie free agents survived the final cutdown -- a total of 53, according to the NFL. The Jets had only one --linebacker Frankie Luvu, who was signed Saturday from the practice squad. Luvu could go back to the practice squad when Josh Martin returns from a concussion.

The Jets haven't hit on a UDFA since 2016, when they found Anderson, safety Doug Middleton and fullback Lawrence Thomas, who was waived to make room for Luvu. Obviously, a team can't rely on UDFAs to build a roster, but it's a feather in the cap of the scouting department when it uncovers a gem.

9. Big man, big heart: Kudos to left tackle Kelvin Beachum, who announced a $10,000 grant to the Holberton School -- a tuition-free software engineering school in San Francisco. His grant will help offset living expenses for students. Beachum said he picked Holberton in part because of its diverse student body and its proximity to major tech-based companies.

10. The last word: You have to love the optimism of nose tackle Steve McLendon, who has the ability to find sunshine on the darkest day. Asked about his expectations for the season, McLendon said, "If we believe this is going to be a championship team, guess what? We're going to be a championship team."