We’re back with another edition of TOJ’s #PickSix, breaking down six things to look forward to in tonight’s New York Jets pre-season debut against the Detroit Lions…
1. How will Ryan Fitzpatrick and the first team offense fare in their first live action against another NFL defense?
This is important because the Jets offense may not face a better defense all year than the one that they’re going up against in practice. With that said, what has been a largely positive off season for the offense will turn quickly if they come out sputtering on Thursday night. By all accounts, Geno Smith has looked like a very different quarterback this offseason. Now that he’s out for the next 6-10 weeks, Ryan Fitzpatrick will now handle the offense. The addition of Brandon Marshall, him now paired with Eric Decker, has been as good as advertised but they’ve received minimal reps with Fitzpatrick. All the attention will be placed on the offense come Thursday, and they need to come out and quiet the murmurings that will only get louder now that their starting QB is out of action. A successful first drive that yields points is going to be important for this offense, as they look to build camaraderie and chemistry on the fly.
It seems like it will be WIllie Colon who gets the first crack at securing the position this coming Thursday. While I think the Jets need to pay Evan Mathis right now and get him signed and slotted to start at this guard position, it doesn’t seem like that is happening just yet. So, we are left to see which one of Colon, Brent Qvale, and Jarvis Harrison claim the starting guard position opposite James Carpenter. Colon was a penalty and drive killing machine last year, and the Jets offense cannot afford to let their drives stall because of a lack of discipline. Qvale has been a surprise at training camp and seems to have a legitimate shot to win the job. Jarvis Harrison is the guy that I think should be the long term starter, but it’s possible that Coach Bowles doesn’t believe he’s ready yet. It will be interesting to see which one of those three play better come Thursday, since it seems that Oday Aboushi and Dakota Dozier are firmly in the mix to be Carpenter’s backup.
3. Does Antonio Cromartie continue to play poorly?
Jet fans loved the front office bringing Cromartie back, and I understood the sentiment. However, Cromartie had an up and down year last year. Through the first half of the season he was a pretty good corner who seemed to have put the nagging hip injury behind him. During the second half of the season he looked like the Antonio Cromartie the Jets couldn’t wait to get rid of…THAT Cromartie has shown up at training camp. Some fans chalk up Cromartie getting beat like a drum daily to it being him facing Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. This would be true if that’s the only player lighting him up. When Chris Owusu, Saalim Hakim, Devin Smith, DeVier Posey, Shaq Evans, and Austin Hill are doing it to you then we have an issue. If training camp is an indicator of how the season is going to go, Cromartie might be one and done in New York.
4. Is Jeff Cumberland really the first team tight end?
Depth charts are usually created by some administrative assistant with no input from head coaches. However, all fans tend to freak out when seeing the first one because we believe it’s our first chance to see how the coaches are thinking of dividing the reps. Jace Amaro was listed as the team’s third tight end, behind Kellen Davis and Jeff Cumberland. I am beginning to think that Cumberland has compromising photographs of Woody Johnson because this doesn’t make much sense. Bowles came out and explained himself rather eloquently regarding how Amaro is the starting H tight end and how the base formation will utilize two tight ends, but I am still concerned that the second tight end in that base two-TE formation is Cumberland. He’s not very good, and the Jets need to hurry up and end this facade.
We’ve heard nothing about the safeties so far during training camp. Not one single peep. This could be a good thing, because it could mean that they haven’t made any mistakes or it could mean that they haven’t done anything of substance and are kind of just there. I have my concerns about Marcus Gilchrist’s ability to play the Cover 1. I’m less concerned about Calvin Pryor’s role in this defense. However, they both need to make some plays come Thursday because they are both the weak links on defense that has a chance to be historically good.
6. How good does Leonard Williams look?
The best player in the draft, in my opinion, fell right into the Jets laps come draft night. Even with a top 5 defensive end in Muhammad Wilkerson, and a top 3 DT in the league in Sheldon Richardson the value was too rich to pass up. He’s going to get alot of reps come Thursday and I’m excited to see him go up against a better offensive line than he’s been playing against in practice. Everyone has said that he’s been quick off the ball and has looked like he’s ready to contribute, and the first step towards that comes this Thursday.