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Twelve thoughts on the New York Jets after their first preseason game and as they head into their two most important days in August (the second and third preseason game).
1 – Quarterback Update: From the day Josh McCown signed his 6 million dollar contract, he was the overwhelming favorite to start week one for the Jets. Despite gradually receiving more practice time with the first team and out repping McCown substantially in the preseason opener, Christian Hackenberg has not done enough to pass him on the depth chart. From everything we have seen, from everything we have heard, from every stat we have seen, Hackenberg remains the second best quarterback on the roster.
After McCown starts the season, it just becomes a matter of “when” Hackenberg takes over and if it is because of injury or incompetence. My guess is that he starts between 8-10 games this season, plays roughly to the level Geno Smith did in 2013 and 2014, leading to a furious debate on if the Jets should draft a quarterback in 2018 culminating with them selecting one in the first round. It is early. Hackenberg may light it up the next two weeks, start week 1 and secure the job long term but as of now, that does not seem like the most probable outcome.
2 – Receiver Predictions: As of now, the Jets would be best served with their three wide being Robby Anderson at X, Charone Peake at Z and Chris Harper in the slot. ArDarius Stewart, Chad Hansen and Frankie Hammond (primary returner) are also likely to make the team. Jalin Marshall is probably going to be activated in week 5, leading to Hammond or maybe Harper being moved off the roster. I still do not think you are going to see the team make a play for a veteran receiver.
3 – The Defensive Formula: We got a glimpse of just how good the Jets defense might be able to be in 2017 against the Titans. From a talent perspective, they remain loaded on the defensive line. If that unit controls the game, it makes life substantially easier for an undermanned linebacker and cornerback group. Beyond the defensive line, if Jordan Jenkins, Darron Lee take the next step, Morris Claiborne stays healthy and players like Josh Martin can be a competent starter, this could be a top ten unit. There is a ton of “ifs” in that paragraph but the pieces are potentially there.
4 – Coaching: It is only one preseason game but the Jets were well coached against the Titans. There were no stupid penalties. There were no blatant miscommunications. They played safe and smart on offense. They played aggressive on defense. Special teams were competent. It is one night but better to start that way than on the opposite end of the spectrum.
5 – 2015 Woes: Lorenzo Mauldin has been hurt and quiet this entire training camp. He is now facing a court date for assault allegations. Josh Martin, Freddie Bishop and Dylan Donahue are all pushing for playing time at outside linebacker. Bryce Petty is locked into being the third quarterback. Outside of Leonard Williams, 2015 is going to look pretty ugly for Mike Maccagnan if Mauldin does not end up being a starting caliber player.
6 – Slot Battle: If Dexter McDougle can build on a strong preseason debut, it will be interesting to see if the Jets consider shopping Buster Skrine to a cornerback needy team. Skrine doesn’t seem like somebody who is going to be here in 2018 and if McDougle can actually stay healthy, he’d be a more logical fit with the current roster in the slot role.
7 – Kicker Battles: It feels like Ross Martin is on track to beat out veteran Chandler Catanzaro for the kicking job but how about competition for punter Lachlan Edwards, who is good for a punt under 20 yards every other week?
8 – Biggest Surprises On Final 53: At least in terms of roster discussion from earlier this summer are potentially going to be Frankie Hammond, Frank Beltre, McDougle and Eric Tomlinson. Also Anthony Firkser if the Jets don’t add a different, veteran fullback.
9 – Metrics: The goal for Hackenberg against Detroit should be to stay over a 60% completion percentage, get over a 6.5 YPA and to generate a touchdown when he is on the field.
10 – The Forte Limbo: He is too banged up to be traded. He won’t be here in 2018. It is a weird spot for the Jets most well known veteran. My guess is both Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire are going to be way more involved in the offense than many on the outside are projecting. Forte may be nothing more than a role player this season.
11 – Anderson Ceiling: Take advantage of him being a sleeper in your fantasy leagues. Anderson is going to get a high volume of downfield and red-zone targets as the Jets de facto lead receiver. 1,000 yards is absolutely on the table for him.
12 – Bad Memories: Did anybody else shudder when they saw Kenbrell Thompkins was coming back with a horrid week 17, 2015 flashback?
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com