The New York Jets did a strong job of building depth this off-season and it is already coming in handy during the early days of training camp. This is why the misplaced Twitter calls to trade every veteran imaginable when a new player is acquired are generally invalid.
Devin Smith began camp working frequently with the first unit in three receiver formations. This is likely to be the base set for the Jets offensively but they will have variety in their personnel groupings. They can have Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker on the outside with Jeremy Kerley in the slot or they can move Marshall or Decker inside and put a speedier player like Smith on the outside, to help open up the intermediate passing game. When Smith down with a 4-6 week injury, the Jets have not been forced to scramble at receiver or roll back their three receiver looks. Kerley is still available to work in the slot and they’ve been able to bump Chris Owusu up into Smith’s previous role when they want to move Marshall or Decker inside. Owusu made an impression late last year and has wowed the staff all off-season but has now more importantly rolled that into a strong start to camp.
Beyond Owusu, second year receiver Shaq Evans has been making plays and the Jets will soon get recently acquired veteran DeVier Posey back from a hamstring injury to further the competition. Fifth year veteran TJ Graham also could receive some looks during Smith’s absence.
At running back, the team brought back Bilal Powell and Daryl Richardson while still adding Stevan Ridley and Zac Stacy. This has allowed Ridley’s stint on the PUP list to have a minimal impact on the offensive installation and given a bigger opportunity to Richardson, who was presumed to be a bubble player at best.
Defensively, despite being loaded on the line in 2014, the Jets were aggressive in adding bodies to their unit this off-season. It went beyond drafting Leonard Williams in the 1st round. They also signed veterans Stephen Bowen and Kevin Vickerson, brought back Leger Douzable and drafted Deon Simon in the 7th round. The suspension of Sheldon Richardson and hamstring injury to Muhammad Wilkerson has made all those moves look that much more wise and will allow their absences to hurt a little bit less than they normally would.The team also has not been shy working current backups with the starting line-up. Third round pick Lorenzo Mauldin is getting enough reps to be prepared for a growing role behind Calvin Pace, Backup corners Dexter McDougle, Dee Milliner and Marcus Williams are getting similar treatment, so is second year pass rusher IK Enemkpali. Unlike recent years, the Jets should be better equipped if injuries or incompetence occurs to their starting veterans, thanks to an infusion of talent and a lack of hesitancy to give reps to players who aren’t the “guys” of the head coach, as was well articulated by Corey Griffin on our podcast last night.
Depth is always positive thing and the Jets are seeing the early fruits of their off-season labor this summer.