Less Obvious Questions For The Jets To Answer Before The Season Starts
Nov 17, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks tackleBreno Giacomini
(68) watches the scoreboard screen during the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
The questions everyone are asking right now about the Jets are: 1) Who will start at quarterback?, 2) What will the wide receiving core look like?, 3) Who will start opposite Dee Milliner at cornerback?, 4) What effect will Calvin Pryor have on the secondary? and 5) How will Chris Johnson mesh with the other running backs and how will the carries be distributed?. There are other questions that need to be answered too, some just as important as the ones listed above. We will focus on those questions today.
1) How will the offensive line perform with Winters in his second season and Giacomini replacing Howard at right tackle?
Brian Winters is a converted tackle from Kent State that moved to guard in his 1st year in 2013. Because Vlad Ducasse was so awful, Winters was forced into a baptism by fire situation where, much like Milliner, he had learn while he played. Winters was pretty bad most of the season before coming on towards the end of the season. Again like Milliner, Winters missed time in training camp that stunted his development. A full offseason should help Winters development and allow him to improve. This time, however, the Jets brought in some depth behind Winters so they are not solely dependent on Winters’ growth. The team drafted Dakota Dozier, a tackle from Furman, who is being moved inside at the pro level and did so very well at the Senior Bowl. Dozier is a candidate to start and will certainly push Winters for his job. Caleb Schlauderaff, William Campbell and Dalton Freeman are the backup interior linemen. Oday Aboushi might be moved inside to the guard position dependent on whether his footwork improves from last year. Improved play from the left guard play is a necessity because as you saw in the last month, when Winters played well it positively affected both the passing and running game so this is something to be watching in training camp.
Breno Giacomini replaces Austin Howard at right tackle. Howard was a athletic right tackle that was a much better run blocker than pass blocker. At 27, Howard looked to be an ascending player. Then he signed with Oakland in the offseason for much more money and the Raiders thought so much of his play at right tackle that they kicked him inside to guard. More limited athletically than Howard, Giacomini , according to Rotoworld.com, plays with “sheer determination and physicality…He’s a brawling blocker”. Giacomini is nasty, plays through the whistle and his attitude is infectious among his line mates. The man playing next to him, Willie Colon, plays in the same fashion and should love Giacomini. He had enough athleticism to start and be effective for the World Champion Seahawks but whether he is able to hold up in pass protection here and blend with the line are the questions he has to answer. Those answers won’t come until the games begin though.
Dec 8, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterbackMatt McGloin
(14) recovers his own fumble while being tackled by New York Jets defensive endQuinton Coples
(98) during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Raiders 37-27. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
2) Will Coples finally put it all together?
In his rookie year Quinton Coples led the Jets in sacks with 5.5. He was very inconsistent and was even chided publicly by Rex Ryan for his effort. Year 2 brought a position change to outside linebacker and a fractured ankle. It took about 1/2 the season in 2013 for Coples to recover and start being the player the Jets envisioned him to be when they chose him in the 1st round in the 2012 Draft. Can he be the disruptive force in the backfield both against the run and pass for a full year? Can he learn to play in space more effectively to become a more well rounded outside linebacker? If Coples fulfills his potential the Jets pass rush goes from good to scary.
3) Can Damon Harrison and Sheldon Richardson duplicate their success of last season?
Damon Harrison came out of nowhere last year to have a Pro Bowl caliber season. When Kenrick Ellis hurt his back at the end of training camp, Harrison was asked to step in and the undrafted free agent from William Penn did just that and more. Harrison not only showed the strength to hold the middle and stuff the run but his quickness was an underrated part of his game that he used to get into the backfield. He has the ability to improve as a pass rusher due to his unusual skill set for a 350 lb. man. The question is first can he duplicate this performance or was he a one year wonder?
Sheldon Richardson was a 1st round pick and it is not really a surprised that he did well but he was so dominant that he became Defensive Rookie of the Year. He had 78 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 11 tackles for loss and 12 run stuffs. Richardson was surprising in how well he played the run. If his pass rushing ability improves he will be a perennial All-Pro but after just 1 season even he is a question mark. If Richardson is able to keep improving the deal for Darrelle Revis will continue to be 1 of the great steals of John Idzik’s tenure.
These are just a few of many other questions that the Jets, like all other teams have, that will determine their fate this year. In the weeks and days to come we will discuss more of these questions and their possible answers. The fun will be watching these questions answer themselves in training camp and through the season.