First a few updates:
1. RIP to former Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, who was one of the brightest minds in the NFL.
2. Brett Favre has decided to stay retired…boohoo.
Jets Training Camp: Five Position Battles
1. Starting Quarterback: Mark Sanchez vs. Kellen Clemens vs. Erik Ainge (Just Kidding)
Why Sanchez Will Win: The Jets didn’t trade up to draft Sanchez and pay him 60 million dollars to have him sit on the bench. Rex Ryan watched Joe Flacco lead the Ravens to the AFC Championship game last year and will believe Sanchez can do the same. The rookie from USC only has to keep it close with Kellen Clemens this summer and the job will be his.
Why Clemens Will Win: He is more experienced in the offense and the Jets are built to win now. Sanchez only had 16 starts at USC and simply won’t be ready to lead a NFL offense by September. Similar to how Chad Pennington was out playing him last summer, Clemens will use his knowledge of Brian Schottenheimer’s offense to handily outplay the overwhelmed rookie this summer.
Prediction: The two quarterbacks will play relatively even this summer, which means Mark Sanchez will win the job.
2. Starting Wide Receiver: Chansi Stuckey vs. Brad Smith vs. David Clowney
Why Stuckey Will Win: He performed the best in mini-camp and OTA’s and is coming off the best season in 2008. He had more catches than Smith and Clowney combined last year, and is by far the most polished of the group at the position.
Why Smith Will Win: He has the best combination of size and speed and is the best overall athlete. He will finally put it all together this summer as a wide receiver.
Prediction: Stuckey will receive most of the reps as the #2, followed by Clowney, and then Smith.
3. Outside Linebacker (Week 1-4): Vernon Gholston vs. Marques Murrell
Why Gholston Will Win: The guy was the number 6 overall pick in the draft for a reason. Rex Ryan will push Gholston towards becoming the elite pass rusher the Jets drafted him to be.
Why Murrell Will Win: He is hungrier than Gholston and plays with more passion for the game. Gholston was simply a workout wonder and won’t be able to translate his talent to the NFL level.
Prediction: Gholston will start, but Murrell will still receive 25-30% of the reps.
4. Nickel-Back: Donald Strickland vs. Dwight Lowery
Why Strickland Will Win: The veteran has been a pretty good nickel back the previous few seasons and Ryan will feel comfortable with him in the game in key 3rd down situations.
Why Lowery Will Win: He showed plenty of talent in his rookie season and was a quality starter for the first few weeks of the year. Lowery will learn from his rookie mistakes and develop into a quality nickel-back.
Prediction: Even though most people expect Strickland to win the job, I like what I saw from Lowery last season and think he will be guy.
5. #2 Tight End: Kareem Brown vs. Richard Owens vs. Jack Simmons
Why Brown Will Win: After being moved from defensive end, Brown had a productive spring and impressed the coaching staff with the potential he has displayed. Somehow, he has the most experience in this offense despite only being on it since the 2008 season ended.
Why Owens Will Win: He is the only player among these three with NFL experience at tight end.
Why Simmons Will Win: The UDFA had a strong showing in the spring and will build on that in the summer. He was a productive player last season in college and is the only player of the three who played tight end at any level of football last year (Owens was out of the league and Brown was a DE).
Prediction: I think Brown and Simmons end up splitting the reps as the #2 tight end.
Jets Highlight of the Article: Who can forget this 2007 match-up between the Jets and Rex Ryan’s (as a D coordinator) Baltimore Ravens. Look at my boy Cotchery tearing it up, but more importantly look at $#%$% Justin McCariens dropping passes. I will never forget shattering a remote control on this day because of #81.