New York Jets: Top 3 players to watch in scrimmage game

By Ryan Patti
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Oct 12, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) drops back to pass against the Denver Broncos during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The annual Green & White scrimmage game for the New York Jets has arrived and there are many players looking to get off on the right foot before Game 1 of the preseason hits. The past has shown that no one is safe when a new head coach and general manager enter the building, so even the guys at the top of the depth chart will have to impress.

With one week of “Camp Bowles” in the books, it all comes down to effort and hard work for the players on the roster bubble at this point. Before I get to my list of the top 3 players to watch in tonight’s scrimmage game, here are some honorable mentions:

Willie Colon

Fresh off the PUP list, Colon will be looking to win the battle at right guard which is pretty much up for grabs at the moment. Oday Aboushi, Brent Qvale, Brian Winters, and Dakota Dozier are all looked at as his competition for the spot. What gives Colon the edge is the fact that he started the last two seasons, but on Pro Football Focus he did rank 38th out of 44 guards who received at least 75% of snaps in 2014. Regardless, this is his job to lose these next few weeks given his nine years of experience.

Quinton Coples

Entering his 4th season in the league, Coples has simply not lived up to the expectations for a guy who went 16th overall. To be fair, the transition into a 3-4 outside linebacker as well as injuries have slowed him down, but the man has to produce more. Having Bowles at the helm will be no different than Rex Ryan, therefore he’ll continue to be asked to blitz play after play. Calvin Pace and Jason Babin are getting old while Lorenzo Mauldin is just a rookie, so there’s a lot riding on Coples’ shoulders this upcoming season.

Next: 3. Geno Smith

May 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) hands the ball to New York Jets running back Bilal Powell (29) during organized team activities at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

3. Geno Smith

The 2013 second-rounder obviously has no other choice but to start 2015 the right way. After two sub-par seasons, everyone is wondering if Smith has what it takes to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. Thankfully, the addition of Brandon Marshall could be the move he needs to take the next step. The Jets’ wideouts weren’t too friendly to Smith the past two years, therefore the 5x All-Pro will definitely upgrade the unit from what it used to be.

Surprisingly, Smith has been doing very well in training camp so far. Given the fact that New York’s defense is arguably the league’s best, that’s quite the accomplishment. The only turnover he’s committed thus far was a from strip sack by Leger Douzable, so it seems as if he’s worked on his awareness along with his decision making. He did improve from his rookie season in which he threw 21 INTs, but 18 turnovers in 2014 is nothing write home about. Taking care of the football is something Smith must continue to work on if he wants to remain the starter.

Expect Smith to air it out a lot in the scrimmage because he’s still technically in a competition with Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Jets also have over a dozen receivers on the roster and all of them need their fair share of reps before the preseason gets underway. On top of that, the coaching staff will of course like to see Smith get on the same page with as many as possible. He’s the most talked about Jet, so all eyes will be on him tonight.

Next: 2. Chris Owusu

Dec 28, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Chris Owusu (14) scores a touchdown as Miami Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes (21) can

2. Chris Owusu

Owusu has performed so well in camp to the point where he might have already earned himself a spot on the 53-man roster. In the beginning of the off season, many actually believed he was behind T.J. Graham and DeVier Posey on the depth chart. Now, he’s replacing rookie Devin Smith who broke his ribs and punctured a lung earlier this week on a hit from safety Jaiquawn Jarrett. Smith will be sidelined 4-6 weeks which gives Owusu a chance to implement himself into Gailey’s offense as the No. 4 receiver.

Owusu is a special player that can produce on offense or special teams with his blazing speed. In Gailey’s spread approach, fast receivers thrive in the shotgun sets that create one-on-one opportunities. A player like Owusu can easily get separation and beat a corner down the field when there’s no help-defense. According to Rich Cimini of ESPN, he’s already earning first team reps and squaring off against the best corners on the team. If he can showcase his talent like he did in the season finale against the Dolphins, he has a great shot at being Gang Green’s unsung hero in 2015.

Since Smith is out and the starters will be on a very short leash, expect Owusu to receive a heavy workload in the scrimmage. With that being said, he should be working in and out of the slot with Jeremy Kerley as well as possibly T.J. Graham. Posey and Saalim Hakim will also be in the mix, but Owusu is the guy to watch as he continues to emerge on the scene.

Next: 1. Jaiquawn Jarrett

Nov 9, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets free safety Jaiquawn Jarrett (37) reacts after recovering a fumble against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

1. Jaiquawn Jarrett

Jarrett is another player making noise in camp. The 2011 second-rounder has truly become a valuable player in the team’s secondary over the past year. In the 2013 matchup against the New Orleans Saints, Jarrett was exposed by tight end Jimmy Graham who carried him 10 yards on his back for a touchdown. The Jets eventually benched him and shadowed Graham with Antonio Allen the rest of the game.

In 2014, Jarrett’s turnaround became very noticeable. According to PFF, he ranked 27th out 87 safeties who received at least 25% of snaps. He earned a +5.2 in pass coverage as a result of yielding just one touchdown on the season. He also allowed only 42.9% of passes in his coverage to be caught which ranked 6th amongst the 87 safeties. In the Week 10 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he picked off two passes and recovered a fumble in route to one of the team’s four wins.

New York has just five safeties on the active roster, so Jarrett may be in line to see an increase in playing time due to the lack of depth. Rontez Miles who’s dressed for just one game in his career and undrafted free agent Durell Eskridge are the only two guys behind him on the depth chart. If Calvin Pryor underachieves in his sophomore season or Marcus Gilchrist can’t handle the switch to free safety, Jarrett may be relied on a lot in 2015. The Green & White scrimmage game may be his first test in making that leap.

Next: New York Jets: Todd Bowles speaks about injury bug

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