Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
We made it through the offseason and training camp is here! There are a lot of question marks on the team and position battles at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, both guard positions, and safety. So here’s my two cents on who I think will win these competitions.
Quarterback – Mark Sanchez vs Geno Smith – The million dollar question for this team is who starts at quarterback. Those backing incumbent Mark Sanchez point to his professional experience especially under center which is not yet a strength of rookie Geno Smith, his play in the playoffs in 2009 and 10 as well as the 26 touchdowns in 2011, as well as his time at USC running the West Coast offense that Marty Mornhinweg is installing. Those on the side of Geno Smith point to his high completion percentage in college, his lower interception percentage, his athleticism and the fact that he is not named Mark Sanchez. This all comes down to Smith’s readiness. If Smith is ready then he is the starter. The Jets have moved on from Sanchez for all intents and purposes but if Sanchez outplays Smith or if Smith hasn’t learned fast enough expect Sanchez to start Week 1 because it easier to pull Sanchez for Smith than it would be to pull Smith if he were to struggle. The Jets want Smith to win the competition and I think he shows enough to win and face Tampa in Week 1.
Prediction: Smith starts Week 1 and ends the Sanchez era
Running Back – Chris Ivory vs Mike Goodson vs Bilal Powell vs Joe McKnight – The Jets had a busy offseason at running back with Shonn Greene running slowly to Tennessee, Mike Goodson signing with the Jets from the Raiders and Chris Ivory being acquired via trade with the Saints. The Jets are betting on backups that have a lot of potential. Chris Ivory has been stuck as a 3rd string running back for the Saints due to the fact he isn’t much of a pass catcher and got nicked up a few times. When he did play he showed that he is a punishing downhill runner that has deceptive speed and quickness. Ivory averaged 5.1 yards per carry with the Saints. Mike Goodson is a speed back who can turn the corner and an adroit pass catcher who is a threat to take it to the house any time he touches the ball. He has to overcome some nagging injuries and a fumbling issue to reach his potential. He also needs to beat gun and drug charges from an incident this offseason. The trial won’t occur to next year most likely and it appears the gun charge could disappear which would help him avoid jail time. Bilal Powell is a good all-around back. He ran for about 4 yards per carry, can catch out of the backfield a bit as well as pass protect. Joe McKnight has game breaking speed and elusiveness but has never unlocked his ability offensively. McKnight has not shown the ability to stay healthy and be anything more than a great kick returner. If he ever puts it together he would be a vital weapon. The Jets brought Chris Ivory in to be the feature back and he will get 15 touches a game, Goodson will spell him as a change of pace back as well as get some work as a 3rd down back. Powell will sub for them both especially on 3rd and long where his pass protection is a big help.
Prediction: Ivory, Goodson, Powell in that order on the depth chart with McKnight being cut late
October 28, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers guard Willie Colon (74) blocks at the line of scrimmage against the Washington Redskins during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Steelers won 27-12. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Guard – Willie Colon vs Stephen Peterman vs Brian Winters – With Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson leaving via free agency the Jets have two guard positions to be filled. They could have stayed in-house and promoted Ducasse and Schlauderaff but they realized that they are terrible and thus signed Colon from Pittsburgh, Peterman from the Lions and drafter Winters in the 3rd round out of Kent State. Three men for two spots. Colon, if healthy, is a very good guard and can swing to right tackle if needed. He is from the Bronx, knows New York and is an extremely tough, physical player. Peterman had a bad year rating among the poorest guards in the league according to Pro Football Focus’ grading. He has had an up and down career but he has been good enough to be a starter. Brian Winters is a raw prospect getting used to the guard position but most are very high on his ability and potential. He was described as mean, nasty and physical which are the descriptions I want in my guards. Winters should beat out Peterman.
Prediction: Colon at LG, Winters at RG and Peterman backs up both
Safety – Josh Bush vs Antonio Allen – With the loss of both LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell the Jets were left with just 2012 draftees Josh Bush and Antonio Allen. They added Dawan Landry to man one of the safety spots leaving Bush and Allen to fight for the other spot. Bush is much better in coverage and has the speed and fluidity to cover tight ends and backs as well as play center field while Allen is more physical and is very good against the run and blitzing. The Jets frequently use a 3rd safety in the box in a role similar to Eric Smith and Allen’s skill set meshes perfectly with that so expect Bush to start opposite Landry with Allen playing plenty. Keep an eye out for Dwight Lowery being cut by Jacksonville. He knows the system and has blossomed into a pretty good safety after his conversion from cornerback.
Prediction: Bush starts and Allen plays plenty in an Eric Smith role but all bets are off if Lowery shakes free from Jacksonville
Players report today and workouts start tomorrow with the Green White Scrimmage on August 3rd and the first preseason game on August 9 so things are going to happen fast. There will certainly be plenty of intrigue in camp this year I can’t wait to see who steps up.