5 Jets observations heading into training camp
The Jets have many unanswered questions going into the 2019 season. Here are five observations based on what we’ve seen so far, going into training camp.
To call this past offseason “turbulent” would be an understatement. There a new coaching staff, a new front office, and a feisty new attitude. There’s little not to like.
The Jets have a head coach obsessed both with winning and with developing his potential franchise QB. They have hard-nosed veteran leadership on both sides of the ball, and some impressive pieces to a larger puzzle.
And now with Joe Douglas in command, they’ve got a solid front office based on blue-collar gridiron acumen rather than suit-and-tie salary-cap accounting. In terms of competent top-down management, the future looks bright.
Last month’s OTAs started uneventfully. However, by the final open-to-the-media workouts, the answers to pressing questions became self-apparent. Here are five salient storylines to follow, as rookies report to One Jets Drive next Friday, July 19.
Next: 5. Webb Over Siemian
5. Davis Webb over Trevor Siemian
Few people in attendance noticed when Davis Webb took reps with the second-team during the final sets of OTAs. But where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
Jets beat writer Connor Hughes reported in The Athletic that Webb so impressed in offseason workouts that he leapfrogged Siemian on the depth chart as backup QB. This development may sound like an encouraging net positive. But Douglas and Gase may have to make a difficult decision.
Neither QB would survive a waiver-wire claim — be it by another NFL team or the QB-desperate relaunched XFL. Giving up on Siemian before the season would represent a waste of a $2 Million salary, plus $645,000 to activate Webb.
The former Broncos starter guarantees reliable insurance just in case Sam Darnold goes down. The unproven two-year practice-squadder does not. But if Webb excels next month, the Jets must hold on to any young talent with upside.
Next: 4. UDFA WR Greg Dortch
4. UDFA WR Greg Dortch Makes the Roster
The shifty slot receiver turned heads as a dual-threat with return skills and nice hands. The 5’7″ redshirt sophomore two-time All-American, who caught 89 passes for 1,078 yards last year, was one of the best return men in college football (1,211 return yards in 20 career games). Most draft prognosticators saw him as a solid mid-round Day Two selection. The Jets were widely reported as a potential draft destination.
Believe the hype: Other than 2018 All-Pro Andre Roberts — who former GM Mike Maccagnan inexplicably let walk to Buffalo — Dortch could be far more than what this franchise thought they’d found in future AAF-er Jalin Marshall. He has what it takes to be the next Leon Washington.
Dortch will have a tough job making this roster, behind Jameson Crowder, Deontay Burnett, and special-teams demons Josh Bellamy, Charone Peake, and Quadree Henderson. But the young Demon Deacon has an edge due to his top-notched skill set in both roles.
There’s little chance Dortch can clear waivers — another team would certainly snag him. Particularly that team up in Foxboro!
Next: 3. Darryl Roberts, Starting CB?
3. Darryl Roberts Will Be A Solid Starting CB
No knock on Roberts, this team’s top secondary-man not named Jamal Adams. The LSU product once the property of New England rose to the occasion in 2018 as the Jets best tackler (48 tackles, three for losses), and a defensive anchor (one INT, seven pass breakups).
Roberts earned every penny of his three-year, $18 Million-contract. He can absolutely get the job done for defensive coordinator Gregg Williams at CB2 — so long as Trumaine Johnson rises to his Revis Island shutdown-corner contract status.
Morris Claiborne must really still be hurt, otherwise, Maccagnan would have brought the marginal starter back into the fold. But if they do bring him into the fold, he will have to battle Roberts (and Johnson) for playing time.
Maccagnan invested extensive time and resources on late-round draft CB projects Derrick Jones, Jeremy Clark, and Parry Nickerson (and traded a fifth-rounder for waived Rashard Robinson). Three years later, the franchise feels the sting. But he did find a competent NFLer, swooping in when the Patriots cut Roberts.
Next: 2. Quinnen Williams, Thus Far
2. The Jury is Out on Quinnen Williams
So, this is the next Mean Joe Greene?
Williams’ minor calf injury kept him off the field for most of OTAs. And yes, he certainly flashed promise in the final week of action.
But the Alabama behemoth’s still not signed and has yet to awe his new coaches. In fact, we read more about the NT depth offered by lining up thirty-something Steve McLendon between Leonard Williams and Henry Anderson.
Back in 20003, then-GM Terry Bradway traded up to the #4 pick overall to take “can’t miss” DT Dewayne Robertson. In 2009, the Jets “stole the show” snagging Combine workout warrior Vernon Gholston sixth overall. And don’t forget the epic under-achievement of 2011’s top-gun Muhammad Wilkerson.
See where this conversation is going? But yes, its way too early to “go there” about a rare talent combining all the requisite defensive power, speed, technique, and intangibles,
Next: 1. Le'Veon Bell!
1, Le’Veon Bell will be a Legendary Jet
Le’Veon Bell is more than a polarizing character. Mike Maccagnan lost his battle with Adam Gase for giving the disgruntled Steelers star four-years, $52.5 Million.
We know how the fans would’ve liked to see Bell display more rah-rah team spirit and participate in the voluntary camp, especially after sitting out all of 2018. But when he arrived, Le’Veon played hard and smart — and proved himself far and beyond the most dynamic talent on the turf.
The Jets have never had a back like this; he’s a game-changer with all eyes on him. Defenses will obsess on him and open up exciting offensive options.
Get ready for an exciting season, Jets fans. We haven’t seen anything remotely like this since the glory days of Curtis Martin.