Top 3 positional battles coming this summer
August 11, 2015; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets head coach eamodd Bowles during training camp at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: John Munson/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports
The New York Jets will have some incredible positional battles heading into summer training camps. Get ready for some great competition to earn starting spots.
The New York Jets had a successful offseason in which they filled holes and most importantly kept the majority of last year’s 10-6 team together. They replaced Chris Ivory with Matt Forte, Damon Harrison with Steve McLendon, and D’Brickashaw Ferguson with Ryan Clady. General manager Mike Maccagnan had another tremendous draft as well. He grabbed two much-needed linebackers in Darron Lee and Jordan Jenkins while finding a potential franchise quarterback in Christian Hackenberg.
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Now that all the moves have been made, it’s time to take a closer look at the roster. With the announcement that the “deadline” for the Jets and Ryan Fitzpatrick to reach an agreement is May 24th, we may know who the team’s starting quarterback is in the next week. Although, drama can ensue and that timetable could mean all but nothing in the end. As for most of the other positions, Gang Green has everything solidified, so battles will predominately be depth-related. However, New York does have a few that can play out this summer regarding big roles.
In 2015, it was all about the quarterback situation which was settled by none other than IK Enemkpali when he broke Geno Smith‘s jaw in mid-August. Of course, Fitzpatrick then took over and won 10 games. The current battles aren’t as big as the quarterback duel last year, but things will get a bit heated in some of the units without a doubt.
Without further ado, here are the top three position battles to look out for when training camp arrives this summer.
Next: 3. Right Tackle
Sep 13, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets offensive tackle Breno Giacomini (68) during the first half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
3. Right Tackle
The Jets have plenty of question at the right tackle position after another below-average season from Breno Giacomini. Him and Ferguson finished towards the bottom of the starting tackles on Pro Football Focus for the second year in a row. Whether it’s the veteran’s age or what offensive coordinator Chan Gailey is asking of him, something has to be figured out with Giacomini before it’s too late.
This is where fifth-round pick Brandon Shell comes into play. He’s a 6’6, 325 lb. freak out of South Carolina who New York actually gave up their 2017 fourth-rounder for. There’s a good chance that the Jets will receive a compensatory pick from letting Harrison walk, so Maccagnan did have some logic behind the decision to trade up for him.
Since Shell is a product of the SEC, he could make a case to start right off the bat if he really impresses in camp. Giacomini turns 31-years-old in September and Gang Green is definitely looking to get younger year by year, therefore the opportunity is presenting itself. Brent Qvale is another guy who can compete for the job and the team even said they would be comfortable with him starting. Nonetheless, it’s Giacomini’s job to lose this summer.
Next: 2. Outside Linebacker
2. Outside Linebacker
The Jets have a plethora of talent at outside linebacker, it’s just a matter of how they decide to use it. Lorenzo Mauldin is the biggest returning player at the position along with Trevor Reilly. Both played a large amount of snaps last season once Quinton Coples was cut and Calvin Pace ran out of gas. Mauldin finished with 17 tackles and four sacks while Reilly totaled 16 tackles and one sack.
It’s safe to say that New York needs a bit of production at the position, so they did the right thing by addressing it in the offseason. They added Julian Stanford, Freddie Bishop, and Jenkins who all can rotate in. Bishop played in the CFL before joining the Jets and Jenkins is a rookie out of Georgia. Stanford does have a tad of NFL experience with the Detroit Lions and Jacksonville Jaguars, but nothing to brag home about. Julian Howsare, Deion Barnes, and Josh Martin round out the rest of the unit.
There isn’t a lot of fire power at the position, however if head coach Todd Bowles can utilize these eight guys properly, getting after the quarterback won’t be a problem. Keeping legs fresh will be the biggest factor in whether this happens or not. Mauldin is a solid player, although he doesn’t deserve to play more than 70% of snaps when a guy like Bishop with fresh legs could be just as productive. It all depends on Bowles and how he wants to use his edge rushers.
Next: 1. Punter
Nov 22, 2014; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Utes punter Tom Hackett (33) punts the ball during the second half against the Arizona Wildcats at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Arizona won 42-10. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports
This may seem like a lame battle, but punters don’t receive enough credit for the job they do in the NFL. When you face high-powered offenses week in and week out, field position can make an enormous difference. Solid punters like Sam Koch, Andy Lee, Johnny Hekker, and Pat Mcafee have won games for their teams throughout the years by pinning the opponent deep consistently. If your punter cannot do this, the defense is routinely hung out to dry.
In the past few seasons, Ryan Quigley has not been that kind of punter for the Jets. While he hasn’t screwed up horribly by dropping a snap or botching a field goal hold, he hasn’t shined like any of the guys listed above whatsoever. Quigley actually shanks the ball often and when he doesn’t, you rarely see the ball go more than 50 yards. The winds of the Meadowlands may have played a factor in that, however the New York Giants never seem to have a problem with their punter. Nonetheless, he isn’t New York’s problem anymore now that he’s on the Philadelphia Eagles.
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There aren’t many, although there are some people who are very intrigued to see the punting battle between Lachlan Edwards and Tom Hackett this summer in Florham Park. Edwards was drafted in the seventh round in this year’s draft while Hackett was one of the team’s 13 undrafted free agents. Both are Australian and extremely excited to be in the NFL, so it will be interesting to see which one of the two emerge by Week 1.