When camp started in Cortland 5 weeks ago, the Jets had plenty of questions and lots of hope. Game 3 has been played, and as far as I’m concerned, other than depth, there is nothing to see in game 4; Rex doesn’t play his starters.
Looking back at the transition of this off-season, so many things come to mind.
The defense has been the strong portion of the Jets through Rex’s reign, but even before that under Mangini. The biggest question going in was the CB position. The biggest concern coming out is the CB position. Camp began with a collection of rethreads like Dimitri Patterson, Ras-I_Dowling; a rookie, Dester McDougle; the usual suspects like Walls, Wilson, Lankester; and the returning star to be, Dee Milliner. Gone are McDougle (IR) and Ras. Dowling was not even able to make the 75 men roster on a team starving for help. Patterson was AWOL, and I have my doubts that he will survive an entire season.
The team signed LeQuan Lewis, who right now looks like the starter week 1, especially since SS turned CB Antonio Allen suffered a concussion, and Milliner may be out the firs game or two.
The rest of the defense had a set back at the beginning of camp, as number one pick, Calvin Pryor suffered a concussion that set him back 2 weeks. Pryor is ready and did play with the starting unit on Friday night against the Giants. The addition of Jason Babin during camp has added not only depth behind Pace and Coples, but a new weapon to unleash on third downs. Babin was impressive this week, even recorded a sack. He has speed and a strong burst that will make offenses keep a TE in to block.
Linebackers are emerging stronger than previously advertised. Harris was a demon in all the games he played, and Demario Davis has been hitting everything in sight; including our own Allen. The Sons of Anarchy needed to only get in shape, and this unit is ready to become the most feared threesome in the division.
So many question marks, unknowns and hope was what entered Cortland NY. Today, we have a much clearer picture of the new NY Jets Offense.
We start with the OL, where all starters returned except for newcomer Breno Giacomini. I am very impressed; he is a quiet leader that goes about his business. Breno’s work ethic seems to have rubbed off on second year starter Winters and up and coming backup Aboushi. The TEs might have been the biggest surprise; by adding second round pick Jace Amaro and having Sudfeld be on the team all off-season, the position is years ahead of what it was in the past. Cumberland is still a little banged up. Amaro looked lost in the first week, but has emerged as a threat in short and deep routes.
At WR the Jets added Jacoby Ford, Eric Decker and a bunch of drafted hopefuls. Two of the three drafted WRs are gone to injuries; Saunders and speedster Hakim should make the squad. At the end of camp, it became evident that Ford had a lot of speed, but no hands, and he was cut. Nelson and Salas have had great a great camp; Stephen Hill looks impressive in practice but not so much in games. Decker is the real deal. His routes are precise, and his hard work has helped the entire group.
At RB, the addition of Chris Johnson has given this unit the most depth I can remember. Three quality runners in CJ, Ivory and Powell; in game 3 against the Giants, Ivory and CJ looked like they were in midseason form. This area will help our passing game be more efficient.
Geno and Michael Vick provided hope as Smith appears to have grown up, a lot. His decision-making appears to be better, and his accuracy is leaps and bounds ahead of what it was a year ago. The tutelage from Vick has given Geno more confidence in using his legs. On Friday night he made some excellent passes, deep and short. The extra TEs and pass catching abilities of CJ have given Geno the short dump passes that go for 20. Geno has earned the starting job, and if he continues to grow he may actually develop into a decent starter.
The Jets are a much-improved team from a year ago. Geno has weapons and Marty Mornhinweg has the tools to game plan. Amaro, Decker and Sudfeld will become lethal in the red zone, thanks to their size. Chris Johnson will never be the 2000 yard man, but he doesn’t have to be, and 1200 are very doable. He may be even more dangerous pass catching out of the backfield. The defense will be enforcing its will as big hitters Pryor, Allen manhandle receivers. The DL will be even better after a year under their belt, and LBs should solidify the entire unit. The Jets are a team capable of winning 7-10 games. The schedule is a rough one, hut I have a suspicion that many of the teams we consider hard games today, will not be so hard in season.
………………..Always, J.E.T.S Jets Jets Jets!