The former second round pick needs to have himself a great training camp
Heading into training camp, all 32 teams in the National Football League have questions that they need to find answers too before the start of the season. While of course some teams are farther ahead of others in terms of talent, each team has question marks. Heading into the 2014-2015 season, the New York Jets have themselves a fair amount of questions they need to find the answers too. I am going to try to predict the outcome of each question, so let’s take a look at some of them.
1. Starting QB- Mike Vick or Geno Smith?– The most talked about position battle so far. In my opinion, this is really not much of a competition as I feel this is 100% Smith’s job unless he completely falters during training camp and preseason games. I feel Smith really came on strong at the end of last season, and showed enough potential that warranted him getting another chance for the starting spot. What Vick brings to the table can be incredibly valuable for the Jets. His veteran experience and talent can push Smith to become a better QB as well as teach him many things along the way. While starting Vick is intriguing, I still say Smith wins the QB job.
2. Who starts at safety?– In the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Jets selected Calvin Pryor out of the University of Louisville. It is fair to assume that the hard-hitting Pryor will be starting right away for the green and white, but the question is who plays alongside him? To me, the answer is Antonio Allen. Allen had himself a fine season last season, but did not receive as much playing time as I thought he deserved due to the signing of Ed Reed. Allen has strong ball skills for a safety, and has the ability to cover opposing teams tight ends which is valuable for any defense. While Allen can be used as a cover safety, the Jets can sue Pryor as an in the box type safety if they choose, or play him in deep center field. With the starting duo of Pryor and Allen, Rex Ryan could have a lot of fun making a game plan for the young safeties.
3. Who starts opposite Eric Decker?– There is no question that Eric Decker will be starting at wide receiver for the Jets week 1 against the Oakland Raiders. While Decker is starting, it is also fair to assume Jeremy Kerley will also be starting, and will be used mostly in the slot where he is able to succeed. But who is going to be considered the Jets “Number 2” wide receiver. If all goes right for the Jets, the answer to that question would be Stephen Hill. The third year WR has struggled early in his career with injuries and drop issues, but has flashed greatness that made the Jets take him in the second round. If Hill falters, look for a battle between veteran David Nelson, and rookies Jalen Saunders and Shaq Evans to determine the winner of the competition. In the end, I say Hill gets one more chance to prove himself before the Jets move on from him.
4. Number 2 cornerback?– In just his second season in the league, Dee Milliner will be asked to be the Jets number one cornerback. While Milliner has his spot locked up, it is still up in the air who will start opposite him as the number 2 corner. Veteran free agent signing Dimitri Patterson in my opinion has the best chance to win the job out of camp. After watching Patterson play in recent years, you can see the talent is there, but he has had issues staying healthy in recent years. While I think Patterson wins the job out of camp, I think by the end of the season, third round pick Dexter McDougle will be the Jets number 2 corner. So far this offseason, it has been reported that McDougle as impressed coaches, and I really feel he will thrive in Rex Ryan’s defense.
5. The running back situation– The Jets backfield is loaded with talent, but it is fair to question how many touches each guy will get. When it is all said and done, I believe the Jets head into the season with Chris Ivory, Chris Johnson, Bilal Powell, and Daryl Richardson as the four running backs on the roster. In my opinion, Ivory will receive the majority of the carries for the Jets this season, with Johnson and Powell coming in as change of pace type backs as well as giving Ivory a rest. I think Chris Johnson will get his fair amount of carries, but his real use will be coming out of the backfield catching passes, which has been a weakness for Jets running backs in recent years. Johnson can be deadly in the screen game, which I expect the Jets to take full advantage of. Bilal Powell is a very solid third running back option, and former Ram Daryl Richardson can prove to be great depth if he can stay healthy and show why he was the Rams starting running back for majority of last season.