Aug 3, 2013; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets quarterbackGeno Smith
(7) calls a play in the huddle during training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
This is going to be a very, very tough off-season. I can see it, and I think the writing’s on the wall. In my mind, the tough part is on the players, and the beneficial part is on the team. Just look at this 2014 draft and you will understand what I’m saying. Without further ado, this is why only the best will succeed.
Look no further than wide receiver where fans were clamoring for a clear starter. If you look at the receiver position, after final cuts five or maximum six players are usually left on the final roster. One of these maximum six spots might go to specialists. Look at the draft where the Jets drafted Jalen Saunders, Shaquelle Evans, and Quincy Enunwa and you already have three receivers. Add that to current receivers Eric Decker, and Jeremy Kerley and you have five. The interesting thing is that even if the Jets carry 6six receivers on the final roster ,Steven Hill, David Nelson, Clyde Gates, Greg Salas, and Quincy Enunwa are going to compete for those last two roster spots. Instead of drafting an early round receiver, the Jets are upgrading the competition through a fierce competition for jobs.
Look at the defensive back position. The Jets lost Darelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie in back to back years. They have been known to carry 6 or 7 defensive backs. Current roster spots go to Kyle Wilson, Dee Milliner, Dimitri Patterson, and Darren Walls. A couple of free agents hoping to stick include Aaron Berry, Johnny Patrick, and Ras Dowling, and now you can throw in rookies Dexter McDougle, and Brandon Dixon. All of the sudden you have 9 guys at corner that all have different strengths and weaknesses. If you think making the team as the nickel corner even for a guy like Kyle Wilson is a lock, think again. Competition is increasing, and the level of hustle, alertness, and desire to stay alive on the roster will help them all improve as players.
Offensive line usually sports between 7 and 8 on the active roster. You have the usual starters from Ferguson on the left side to Giacomini on the right. What you have behind them is what’s interesting. Last year’s draft netted depth at tackle in Oday Aboushi, developmental guard in William Campbell, and incumbent backup center in Caleb Schlauderaff. What did Idzik do? He went out and got another tough, nasty, small school tackle in Dakota Dozier that projects to guard. Being drafted in one draft no longer guarantees a roster spot even in the next draft. Aboushi and Campbell will have to fight to keep Dozier from taking that backup spot. Brian Winters may have to fight to keep his starting job.
The main difference that I see with John Idzik’s regime is the sheer amount of players he’s drafting and letting fight for jobs. The competition itself is what’s driving the best players to the top, and letting those that aren’t as competitive or talented be cut. This couldn’t be done in previous GM Tannenbaum’s era because there were not enough rookies to effectively push the veteran players to play better for fear of losing their roster spot. I saw this work in Seattle, and I think I am about 2 years away from seeing this work on a large scale in New York. Survival of the fittest through open competition to improve roster talent. Often said, never really practiced. Until now.