With training camp getting started this past weekend, New York Jets fans have been so excited that their thoughts and hopes about the team have been all over the place. Some think that the team is headed toward a top-5 draft choice next year, while others think the team is going to be the surprise story of the NFL and make the playoffs. Some think Rex should be fired, and others think he should get an extension. Some fans are Team Sanchez and others are Team Geno. Well, none of us can be totally sure where this season is headed exactly, but what I can tell you is what you should be rooting for to happen during this training camp (other than no injuries of course). Here is the Jets Fan’s Rooting Guide for Training Camp:
1) Root For Mark Sanchez to Play Well – Before you punch your computer screen, I am not saying to root for him to win the starting job if you don’t want him to. I’m just saying we should all be rooting for The Quarterback Formerly Known As The Sanchize to play well during this camp, for many reasons. I’m a firm believer in the whole “best player should play” theory, and having two quarterbacks battling it out and playing well is the best thing for the team. If Sanchez plays well, that pushes Geno to play better. If Sanchez plays well and wins the job and carries it into the season, then that helps the Jets chances of winning games come September. If Sanchez does play well, whether it’s for a few weeks, the whole season, or whatever, there are no downsides to it. Either he plays well and the Jets win games, or he plays well, Geno plays better, and the Jets can maybe land a draft pick for #6 a la Alex Smith and the 49ers. Root for Sanchez to play well. There’s a difference between that and rooting for him to be the starter, trust me.
2) Root for Geno Smith to Play Better – See, all the people who were ready to tweet me and call me all sorts of horrible names can relax. Yes, you should root for Sanchez to play great this offseason, but you should be rooting for Geno to play better. The best thing for the long-term health of the Jets is for Geno to take this job, make it his, and run with it for the next ten years. However, we don’t want Geno to win the job simply because Sanchez lost it and he was worse than him. We want them both to play great and have Geno WIN the job because he played awesome. There’s a major difference there. If Geno wins the job simply be default and he isn’t quite ready for NFL action as a rookie, then it could be majorly detrimental to both the future of himself and the team. So, to recap: Root for Sanchez to play well; Root for Geno to play better. Just root for whoever is the Jets QB. It’s what’s best for the Jets.
3) Root for Chris Ivory to Stay Healthy and Mike Goodson to Get His Act Together – Ivory has a history of injuries and he has started out this camp on the sidelines with hamstring tightness. That’s really not too big of a deal for someone like Ivory because the team needs him healthy heading into the season in September, not necessarily in July, but it’s troubling that a player with his injury history is already dinged up. It’s important for him to avoid any lingering injuries, because he is probably the most important player on the offense. Ivory becoming more like the next Michael Turner, as opposed to the next Lamont Jordan is key.
As for Goodson, it’s a little bit trickier because nobody seems to know what the hell is going on with him, and the team isn’t talking. Whatever it is, the team badly needs to get him back by middle of camp so he can get in shape and be the 3rd-down back this team badly needs. Bilal Powell is decent, but we will all be better off with the explosive Mike Goodson being the guy who spells Ivory. If the offense is going to be good enough to get the Jets to the playoffs this year, Ivory and Goodson are going to have to be major factors.
4) Root For Stephen Hill to Become “The Man” – Everyone wants Braylon to do well and he’s the “feel good story” for many fans so far, but if he’s taking on too big of a role on this offense then that’s probably a bad thing. Stephen Hill has a ton of talent and he needs to put it all together this year to become a passable #1 receiver for the Jets. Jeremy Kerley will likely be the de factor top receiver in terms of targets and catches, but Hill is the guy who needs to make the big plays and be the one that defenses fear. He has the ability, he just needs to show it.
5) Root For Holmes to Get Healthy – The reason Hill needs to make a major step forward this year is because Holmes is injured and it doesn’t look like he’s going to be back on the field any time soon. It’s probably unrealistic to root for Holmes to play week 1, but we need to root for him to be doing football activities and running as week 1 approaches. That way, while he will almost definitely start the season on the PUP list, we can get excited about having him back by week 7 at least, and that would be a major boost for the team.
6) Root For a “Surprise” WR to Make a Splash – With Santonio hurt, one of the more unknown receivers on the team needs to make a splash and become a factor for the offense. The odds-on favorite for this role appears to be Clyde Gates, who is off to a terrific start in camp and has drawn rave reviews. He has a long way to go, but if he can give the team anything as a 3rd or 4th receiver, that would be a major help for a team that had major wide receiver problems throughout 2012. Other receivers who have been impressive in camp and could make some noise are Vidal Hazelton, Zach Rogers, and Ryan Spadola. Root for one of these guys needs to step it up and be a poor man’s version of Victor Cruz for the Jets in 2013.
7) Root For Willie Colon to Stay Healthy & Brian Winters to Beat Out Stephen Peterman – The Jets overturned their Guard position this year, and these two things are imperative for the success of the Jets offense in 2013. Many fans don’t realize what an upgrade a healthy Willie Colon will be over both Moore and Slauson from last year. Colon is a huge mauler on the offensive line and is a top-level run blocker, which is key for a team that plans to run the ball as much as the Jets do. As for Winters, the 3rd-round pick is very much in the same mold and will bring a lot more to the table than Stephen Peterman, who is average at best. The best thing for the team would be if Winters shows he is ready to start week 1 and wins the job opposite Colon.
8) Root For Sheldon Richardson To Keep Impressing – This one is pretty obvious and I know all Jets fans are rooting for the #13 pick in the draft to play well in camp and into the season. I think Richardson is vital to the defense in 2013 and it is imperative he plays well on the interior of the Jets line and provides a pass rush up the middle. It may not be ideal for Rex and the Jets to be relying so heavily on a rookie to make such an impact, but that’s the situation. Sheldon Richardson absolutely needs to play well and be a force inside.
9) Root For Dee Milliner’s Shoulder to Not Be an Issue – I wasn’t too worried about Milliner’s contract situation, and we all knew he would show up eventually. What I am more concerned with is his shoulder, which he had surgery on in March. With Revis obviously gone and Aaron Berry already suffering a season ending injury, it is incredibly important for Milliner to step in and be a starter from Day 1. That would allow Rex Ryan to continue with his experiment playing Kyle Wilson some at safety as a Corner/Safety hybrid and won’t force anybody else onto the field without necessarily being ready for it. If Milliner has any setbacks or re-injures himself, it will send Wilson back to being a full-time corner and will weaken the safety group a great deal.
10) Root For Antonio Allen To Impress – Speaking of the safety position, it may not be nearly as bad as some think, especially if Wilson turns into that hybrid safety Rex envisions and if Antonio Allen steps it up. By all accounts he’s been impressive early in camp and has been running with the first team defense next to Dawan Landry. Allen is a good blitzer and very good up near the line of scrimmage, but he’s also been flashing some ball-hawking ability and that will be what he needs to improve upon to get on the field and lock down a starting spot.