May 25, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Jets cornerback Marcus Williams (20) during OTA at Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
As the New York Jets prepare for the preseason, here’s a final depth chart predicting each position’s starter and primary backup.
For fans all across the globe, football simply can’t come fast enough. Rest assured though before you know it, preseason action will be upon us as a plethora of athletes will work their hardest to land final roster spots on their respective teams. When it comes to the New York Jets, expect to see some hidden gems step up and surprise many while 2016 NFL Draft picks will prove their worth.
The Jets head into training camp looking to improve their overall pass rush on defense, see if they can make their special teams unit relevant again and of course, see what exactly will transpire with the most important position on the team at quarterback.
With quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick back, it’ll be interesting to see how he does against a tougher slate of opponents. This time around for the Jets across the team, they have a nice core of veteran players, youth and are hoping experience is the key catalyst on what leads this team back into the NFL Playoffs for the first time since 2010.
The Jets will more than likely feature an offensive playbook that has an emphasis on running the football. Their defense will also stay as a 3-4 Base with an emphasis on their defensive line wreaking havoc against opponents. Without further ado, here’s a final depth chart prediction for the Jets as they prepare to field the best roster possible to ensure another memorable football season.
Starter: Ryan Fitzpatrick
Backup: Geno Smith
Now that quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is back with the Jets, their quarterback situation is solidified heading into the upcoming season. Fitzpatrick gives the Jets the best chances to win plenty of football games considering everything he achieved last season and the fact that now he can continue what he started.
As far as his backup is concerned, quarterback Geno Smith is an experienced player due to his previous stints as a starter. Should something happen to Fitzpatrick whether injury or a decline in play occurs, the Jets’ offense shouldn’t miss a beat.
Quarterback Bryce Petty enters year two of his NFL career and learned a lot last season from the sideline. While he’s not considered starting material just yet, he’s more than capable of being an emergency option in 2016 should something catastrophic should happen to both Fitzpatrick and Smith.
Recently drafted quarterback Christian Hackenberg is pretty much going to do what Petty did last year in 2016 and be developed from the sideline. He’s nowhere near ready to be a starting quarterback in the NFL but should be coached and trained nicely in his upcoming rookie season.
Next: Running back
May 25, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) watches Matt Forte run with the ball during OTA at Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Starter: Matt Forte
Backup: Bilal Powell
The rushing attack of the Jets will be one of their main strengths of the team. Despite losing running back Chris Ivory to free agency this offseason, the Jets landed the versatile Matt Forte into their backfield.
There’s always something special when a veteran player like Forte doesn’t get re-signed by the original team that drafted him and he gets picked up by another team in free agency. A chip on his shoulder of such magnitude will more than likely yield big results for Forte in his first season with the Jets as their starting running back.
Running back Bilal Powell is an x-factor when it comes to the dimension he brings to the offense of the Jets. As a hybrid option coming out the backfield, Powell can do major damage as a receiving threat or use his speed on the ground to keep those chains moving.
Throw in running back Khiry Robinson and the Jets have a new three-headed monster at the positional group ready to make some noise. This group can be very special if everything comes together as it won’t matter who is under for the Jets as they can win plenty of football games with what should be a potent ground game.
Next: Wide Receiver
oDec 27, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker (87) and New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall (15) celebrate Marshall
Wide Receiver 1 Starter: Brandon Marshall
Wide Receiver 1 Backup: Quincy Enunwa
Wide Receiver 2 Starter: Eric Decker
Wide Receiver 2 Backup: Charone Peake
Last season, the dynamic duo of wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker were nothing short of amazing. They delivered huge results on offense as they played well alongside each other to keep opposing defenses guessing what was coming next.
Only problem was, there wasn’t really a legitimate No. 3 receiving option but that is all about to change this time around. Wide receiver Quincy Enunwa should have a surprise year with the Jets as his speed and ability to relieve some of the pressure off of Marshall/Decker will make his presence known often.
Rookie wide receiver Charone Peake will finally bring that speedy deep threat on offense the Jets have so desperately been missing. While it would be ideal for wide receiver Devin Smith to thrive in this role, his severe torn ACL injury could be one that hinders his progression in the NFL.
Look for Enunwa/Peake to be key depth on the Jets’ receiving corps as they should add a nice dimension on offense and actually make it so it’s not so dependent on just Marshall/Decker.
Next: Tight End
Aug 7, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets tight end Jace Amaro (88) makes a catch during warmups before the start of a game against the Indianapolis Colts at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Starter: Jace Amaro
Backup: Kellen Davis
This is a make or break year for tight end Jace Amaro since he’s entering his third year with the Jets with very little to show for it. Due to dropped passes, a hard transition adjusting to life in the pros and unfortunate injuries have hindered his overall progression.
Amaro should be able to shake off the injury bug and hopefully do his part to make tight ends relevant again on the Jets. Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey seldom used his tight ends as receiving options last year and had them be blockers for the most part.
Amaro is the clear starting option thanks to his overall size at 6’5 and 265 pounds with the most upside to finally be a threat. Look for Amaro to make his presence known as a red-zone target in 1st and goal situations.
Tight end Kellen Davis will more than likely end up bring his primary backup. He’s never really found much success throughout his career but has the experience to step in when his number is called.
Next: Offensive Tackle
Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets tackle Breno Giacomini (68) against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Bills beat the Jets 22 to 17. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Left Tackle Starter: Ryan Clady
Left Tackle Backup: Ben Ijalana
Right Tackle Starter: Breno Giacomini
Right Tackle Backup: Brandon Shell
When it comes to offensive tackle, the Jets have a huge question mark at left tackle. With the retirement of D’Brickashaw Ferguson literally out of nowhere this offseason, the Jets quickly found a suitable replacement in Ryan Clady.
Only problem with Clady is his overall health as he’s had quite the injury history over the years. Coming off a torn ACL injury, if he gets re-injured again this upcoming season, it could pose big problems for the Jets’ offense to click on all cylinders like it did last year.
The Jets have a potential future starting right tackle in Brandon Shell but he’ll need some time for everything to come together. Breno Giacomini is on very thin ice due to his inconsistency last season but if he can hold the fort until Shell is ready to step in as a starter, it’ll be an easy transition.
Overall, the offensive tackle situation of the Jets could be a problem if injuries or decline in play occur. If everything holds up, it’ll have a nice mixture of veterans and youth to help establish the run and protect the quarterback.
Dec 6, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets center Nick Mangold (74) snaps the ball against the New York Giants during overtime at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Giants 23-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Starter: Nick Mangold
Backup: Wesley Johnson
As center Nick Mangold enters his tenth season in the NFL, he’s getting up there in age. Mangold over the years has also suffered through injuries and there is no guarantee he can continue being a cornerstone at center throughout the upcoming season.
Regardless though, Mangold will always be one of the perennial leaders on offense and is the glue to holding everything together. The Jets are hoping he can continue being their anchor at the position as they do their best to groom his eventual replacement.
Mangold’s main backup is Wesley Johnson who has proven he can be a decent starter but still needs some work to solidify himself at the position. The Jets also took a risk on center Kyle Friend this offseason and signed him as an undrafted free agent. At 6’2 and 305 pounds, Friend is moldable to the next level but it will take some time.
If Mangold can continue to do what he does best over the next year or two, Friend should hopefully be able to compete with Johnson as the next starting center for the Jets once Mangold is no longer an option.
Next: Offensive Guard
Jan 3, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; New York Jets guard James Carpenter (77) against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Bills beat the Jets 22 to 17. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Left Guard Starter: James Carpenter
Left Guard Backup: Jarvis Harrison
Right Guard Starter: Brian Winters
Right Guard Backup: Dakota Dozier
The offensive guard situation of the Jets is very good with a nice mix of veterans and young prospects being molded for bright futures. Offensive guards James Carpenter and Brian Winters continue to show how consistent they can be as they can keep up with the best defenders coming their way.
Their main backups also have proven to be dependable during substitutions and/or injuries as they have been able to do their part to solidify the Jets’ offensive line. To win football games is to win the battle of the trenches as this part of the offensive line is the strength of making sure the job gets done.
Since the Jets will more than likely have an offensive playbook catered around their ground game, it’s important that this positional group continues to do their best to open up rushing lanes to help establish the run.
Overall, the Jets have no major issues here as for the most part, this group is consistent and only getting better over time.
Next: Defensive End
Left Defensive End Starter: Muhammad Wilkerson
Left Defensive End Backup: Jarvis Jenkins
Right Defensive End Starter: Sheldon Richardson
Right Defensive End Backup: Leonard Williams
Easily the main strength on defense for the Jets, their defensive line is shaped up to be flat out scary. The Jets finally re-signed defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson and despite coming back from a broken leg injury at the end of last season, will more than likely be good to go come Week 1 of the regular season.
His backup in Jarvis Jenkins was recently acquired this offseason brings experience and quality depth to the Jets’ defensive line. Last season, Sheldon Richardson was used in a hybrid role as a defensive end and even as a pass rushing linebacker.
This time around, head coach Todd Bowles plans to stick Richardson at defensive end to utilize his speed off the edge. Leonard Williams enters his sophomore season with a lot of potential to have a breakout season considering he should see more playing time in a rotation with Richardson.
Overall, the combination of speed and aggression from the defensive ends of the Jets will wreak havoc against opponents all season long. Keep an eye on these players as they will make plenty of highlights in 2016 getting after and taken down quarterbacks on a consistent basis.
Next: Defensive Tackle
Aug 28, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers nose tackle Steve McLendon (90) rushes the line of scrimmage against the Carolina Panthers during the first quarter at Heinz Field. The Panthers won 10-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Defensive Tackle Starter: Steve McLendon
Defensive Tackle Backup: Deon Simon
Unfortunately for the Jets, they lost defensive tackle Damon Harrison in free agency to the New York Giants as he leaves a pretty big void at the position. He was excellent against the run as the Jets filled his vacancy with defensive tackle Steve McLendon.
McLendon has spent the past five years with the Pittsburgh Steelers but his stats don’t exactly stand out compared to others at the position. In his career so far, McLendon has totaled just 58 tackles and two forced fumbles.
Hopefully he can be good but it will more than likely take time for him to turn into a legitimate run-stopper similar to Harrison. His backup Deon Simon is a seventh round draft pick from 2015 and is still being molded into hopefully developing into a full-time starter later down the road.
There is a lot riding on McLendon to fill the shoes left by Harrison, if not, it could very well be an area of weakness for the Jets. Luckily for them, most of the teams they’ll be facing tend to rely heavily on the pass, which should enable their defensive ends to be key impact players in 2016.
Nov 8, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin (55) reacts during the third quarter against the Jacksonville Jaguars at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Left Outside Linebacker Starter: Lorenzo Mauldin
Left Outside Linebacker Backup: Jordan Jenkins
Left Inside Linebacker Starter: Erin Henderson
Left Inside Linebacker Backup: Bruce Carter
Right Inside Linebacker Starter: David Harris
Right Inside Linebacker Backup: Taiwan Jones
Right Outside Linebacker Starter: Darron Lee
Right Outside Linebacker Backup: Trevor Reilly
One of the major focuses of the Jets heading into this year’s offseason was addressing their overall pass rush from their linebacker corps. Last season, they weren’t as consistent as it could have been and were slow in getting to the ball carrier.
The Jets used their first round draft pick on linebacker Darron Lee whose speed and ability to be disruptive against opposing offenses should make him stand out immediately this upcoming season.
Expectations are also very high for linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin who could produce a breakout year as he enters his sophomore season. This positional group is led by veteran linebacker David Harris who continues to be a cornerstone and tackling machine for the Jets.
The Jets added speed, youth and aggression to their linebacker corps who should undoubtedly be a strength again for the team.
Left Cornerback Starter: Darrelle Revis
Left Cornerback Backup: Marcus Williams
Right Cornerback Starter: Buster Skrine
Left Cornerback Backup: Dee Milliner
With the release of cornerback Antonio Cromartie this offseason, the Jets will have a battle for the No. 2 starting spot at the position all throughout training camp. Buster Skrine will be making a position change from safety to cornerback and should be able to stand out and earn the aforementioned starting spot.
Skrine has experience at cornerback, dating back to his days as a member of the Cleveland Browns. Of course this positional group is led by the man who is known to have his own island, cornerback Darrelle Revis.
Revis might have slowed down a bit last season but make no mistake about it, he’s still one of the best cornerbacks playing today in the NFL. He dealt with a wrist injury last year but got surgery this offseason to correct it and shouldn’t miss a beat.
Marcus Williams is about as solid as depth as one can get at the position. He’s starting material and should be able to spell relief for either Revis or Skrine when his number is called. Dee Milliner on the other hand despite his recent struggles, should prove his worth by being healthy and living up to his potential. He won’t be a starter this season but should be more than capable of handling backup duties.
Dec 19, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; New York Jets strong safety Calvin Pryor (25) runs past Dallas Cowboys offensive guard La’el Collins (71) after intercepting a pass in the fourth quarter at AT&T Stadium. New York won 19-16. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Strong Safety Starter: Calvin Pryor
Strong Safety Backup: Dion Bailey
Free Safety Starter: Marcus Gilchrist
Free Safety Backup: Rontez Miles
The safety situation of the Jets is another solid area of consistency. Safety Calvin Pryor has developed nicely over the past few years and is on his way to becoming another leader on defense.
He should continue the momentum he created last season as a smart defensive back that isn’t afraid to demolish anyone carrying the football. Marcus Gilchrist also continues to be as consistent as they can be at free safety as he had his best season yet last year that saw him total three interceptions and 60 tackles.
The Jets also have quality depth at both safety positions with Dion Bailey and fan favorite Rontez Miles. Should either have to step in as relief to start, the Jets’ defense shouldn’t miss a beat.
This positional unit will be tested heavily in 2016 since as mentioned earlier, the Jets will face a plethora of teams that emphasize passing the football to keep those chains moving. The play of Pryor and Gilchrist will be important for them to stop teams from converting key third downs as they have what it takes to shutdown even the fastest receivers coming their way.
Next: Special Teams
November 1, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; New York Jets kicker Nick Folk (2) kicks a field goal out of the hold by punter Ryan Quigley (4) against the Oakland Raiders during the first quarter at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kicker: Nick Folk
Punter: Lachlan Edwards
Kickoff/Punt Returner: Jalin Marshall
Kicker Nick Folk will continue being the starter at the position for the Jets as he’ll continue to be his usual consistent self. When it comes to the punter situation however, things will get interesting during training camp.
Both Lachlan Edwards and Tom Hackett are both from Australia and will make for a very interesting competition at punter. Look for Edwards to ultimately win since he has a knack for pinning opponents deep inside the 20-yard line which will help the Jets’ defense tremendously when it comes to field positioning.
The kickoff/punt returner situation for the Jets has been abysmal over the past few years. Last year, the Jets didn’t even score a single touchdown from the position as things will change dramatically this season thanks to a new coach in town.
With a new special teams coach in Brant Boyer, expect to see a major culture change when it comes to how they tackle and of course, being in a position to score some touchdowns by their return specialist. This will be another interesting competition but look for wide receiver Jalin Marshall to earn the starting spot and use his blazing speed and ability to break tackles finally bring a dangerous presence to the position capable of bringing it to the house.