It is important to avoid reading too much into early camp depth charts released by an organization. Some may say an article of this nature inherently reads too much into it. But hell, where’s the fun in that?
Quarterback Controversy? Psych!
Geno Smith is listed as the number one quarterback on the depth chart, ahead of Michael Vick.
The speculation that Michael Vick would join the Jets this off season was rampant. The Jets would of course sign the maligned quarterback and spark yet another quarterback controversy…because the Jets. When the inevitable happened, the storyline provided an easy way to drum up some no-brainer readership and traffic.
How was this different from the Mark Sanchez – Kellen Clemens competition? Sanchez – Tim Tebow? Sanchez – Geno Smith? It wasn’t, but it was sure spun that way. In each instance the faux competition was over before it even started. Such is the case here. From his snaps with the ones to his role in the scrimmage, the answer was always Smith.
No Mystery with the Wide Receivers
Eric Decker and Jeremy Kerley are listed as the starters at wide receiver, with David Nelson and Stephen Hill as their backups.
As soon as the free agency waters settled, we at Turn On The Jets began preaching two concepts regarding the Jets pass catchers. The first: the idea of a “number one” or “number two” receiver is antiquated. The Jets have collected a talented group of wide outs each with a unique skill set. The members of this much improved group will have fluid roles in Mornhinweg’s offense.
The second concept: the Jets targets will be distributed based on talent, not position. Decker, Kerley, Jeff Cumberland, Jace Amaro, and Chris Johnson should see the highest number of passes thrown their way. In other words, the receivers will not be the focus of the passing offense but be a cog in a greater machine of skilled pass catching tight ends and a running back.
The Jets naming Kerley the second wide out is reflective of both concepts. Kerley features the best combination of talent and development after Decker and, therefore, should see the field more than Hill or Nelson.
Also of note is that Greg Salas is the fifth option on the depth chart over Jacoby Ford and rookies Jalen Saunders and Shaq Evans. Salas has been catching everything thrown his way in camp and put on a clinic in the scrimmage. John Idzik’s competition mantra is evident here, particularly in that Salas is listed above the GM’s recent draft and free agent acquisitions.
Pass Rusher Intrigue
Quinton Coples and Calvin Pace are the listed starters, with Jason Babin and Garrett McIntyre backing them up. Antwan Barnes is the last name on the OLB depth chart.
Coples and Pace nailing down the starting spots is expected. Newcomer Jason Babin has been wrecking havoc in camp and will be the situational rusher. Barnes is injured, again, but to see him behind Troy Davis, Ik Enempkali, and Garrett McIntyre is surprising. His positioning is most likely reflective of his health and does not bode well for his future with the team.
Jeff “Take On All Comers” Cumberland
Incumbent Jeff Cumberland is listed as the starting tight end over rookie Jace Amaro.
The New York Jets are sporting their best tight end room in years. The team added Zach Sudfeld last season and have to be pleased with his strong performance so far this training camp. They drafted Jace Amaro who has the size and athleticism to be special.
Despite some new competitors in the ring, Cumberland still holds the top spot. Amaro’s struggles in adapting to the pro game have been highly publicized and Sudfeld, despite his stature, is still under developed. All three should have significant roles in this offense but it is telling that Cumberland is still number one.
Winters Winning the Summer
Brian Winters is listed above surprise competitor Oday Aboushi.
It appears that Willie Colon has the right guard spot locked up with the two sophomore bigs duking it out for the left spot. Aboushi has been having an outstanding summer according to Jets coaches and is nipping at the incumbent Winters’ heels. This competition is great for the depth and future of the roster. Whoever “loses” this competition won’t ride the pine for long. Colon is long in the tooth and injury prone. More likely than not, Aboushi and Winters will see the field together at some point this season.
Cornerbacks Shaping Up
Dee Milliner and Dimitri Patterson are the listed starters. Kyle Wilson and Dexter McDougle are their back ups. Darrin Walls and Ellis Lankster are backing up the back ups.
Despite an early display from Ras-I Dowling and Johnny Patrick, both have been pushed to the back of the depth chart. Lankster and Walls familiarity with the playbook, ability to step in, and special teams contributions will ensure their roster spots over camp fodder like Brandon Dixon and Jeremy Reeves.
“Camp fodder” may be too harsh, however, because Reeves, Dixon, Patrick, and Dowling all have the talent to carve out roles on other teams. What does this mean for the Jets? Well, despite the anxiety surrounding the cornerback position, it is probably the deepest on the team. While the top of the depth chart is muddled, having Wilson, Lankster, and Walls as your fourth, fifth, and sixths DBs is a good position to be in.
Running Back by Committee?
Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, and Chris Johnson are all listed as starters.
This is a particularly interesting development. The Jets expect to be run heavy this season given their talent at the position and question marks in the passing game. We knew Ivory and Johnson would see a good number of snaps but Powell sneaking in there should surprise no one.
When forced into action last season Powell was a consistent and effective force. Some like to paint the third year back as a “Jack of All, Master of None” but this is simply not the case. Powell exhibits solid short area quickness and outstanding pass protection. His ability to play on passing downs and run inside or out, make him a potent weapon.
While having this kind of depth is never a bad thing, it may be difficult for Mornhinweg to distribute snaps without disrupting momentum or hurting someone’s pride.
Along with Evans and Saunders: Jeremiah George, Ik Enemkpali, Trevor Reilly, Brandon Dixon, Tajh Boyd, and Quincy Enunwa all ride the bottom of the depth chart. Calvin Pryor is behind Antonio Allen and Dawan Landry.
Rookies being pushed behind veterans is not all that intriguing. It is a long training camp and younger players are wont to struggle with professional playbooks. That being said, the veterans topping these rookies are not exactly world beaters.
The likes of Clyde Gates, Tim Fugger, and AJ Edds are holding the rooks down. Some of this may be due to the aforementioned playbook problems. However, the fact that Jalen Saunders (a player that the team hoped could contribute immediately) cannot overtake Clyde Gates has to be somewhat concerning.
Calvin Pryor being behind Landry and Allen is admittedly a shock to the system but not entirely unexpected. He has missed a significant number of camp snaps due to his concussion and is understandably behind the vets. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the three safeties listed as starters (ala the running backs).
What are your thoughts after checking out this early depth chart? Sound off below or on Twitter!