New York Jets: Observations Heading Into Training Camp

Chris Gross ends his hiatus to deliver observations about the New York Jets heading into training camp

Due to a series of unforeseen occurrences (aka real job getting in the way of covering our beloved Jets), it has been quite a while since I have been in the writing game here at Turn On The Jets. Fear not, however, as I plan to be back full go in the coming months alongside our tremendous staff, as well as the terrific newcomers who have recently joined our team at TOJ.

That being said, it is very interesting to be a casual observer of all things Jets, as I have been for about the past two months. When you aren’t as heavily involved in covering or following this team, you tend to pick up on some things that you may have otherwise missed if you were so focused in on one or two particular topics surrounding the Jets or the NFL as a whole. Let’s take a look at some observations I have made over the course of the last month or two as we head into the final days prior to training camp.

Mark Sanchez is speaking confidently. Why is that a problem amongst most Jets fans? Simple. The fans have had enough of the charade. Yes, it is great to hear a player speak confidently, but what good is such confidence if it hasn’t been on display since 2009 and 2010? Sanchez speaking in a cut off tee shirt and shorts out in California does not overcome the memories fans still have of the guy who consistently hung his head in 2012. The guy who had to have his face mask pulled off of his chest plate by Bart Scott following an interception in Seattle last year. The guy who butt fumbled, the guy who could not make anyone around him better, and the guy who seemingly got down on himself after single poor play in 2012. That’s the memory Jets fans have in their heads. That’s the taste that is left in their mouths. And for Sanchez to come out and speak so brashly, and so confidently about being the starting quarterback for the Jets as if Geno Smith or any other quarterback on the roster will not provide any competition reflects the coddled nature that has become the relationship between the organization and Sanchez.

The truth is, Mark is saying what you would want any player to say. The problem is, actions speak much louder than words, and it is the actions of the previous two seasons that have made Sanchez’s words seem insulting to the majority of the fan base’s intelligence. Sanchez thinks he can win the job? Great. But how about proving your leadership ability and confidence for once, rather than just talking about it? It’s the only way that Sanchez will ever have a remote chance to begin winning this fan base back.

Where are Dee and Sheldon? As we inch closer to training camp, neither of New York’s first round draft picks have signed. While this is an issue that most are expecting to be resolved before the Jets report to Cortland, it is one of utmost importance. Why, you ask? From an emotional standpoint, the idea of having another first round CB hold out could be a nightmare of deja vu for the organization and fan base. Factor in another hold out with the player you selected with the pick you traded that hold out happy, yet All-World Cornerback (who shall remain nameless) for, and you’re putting everyone aforementioned in a world of hurt. Get the deals done. Get to camp. Get to work.

This defense has a chance to be fantastic, but is it boom or bust? Early in the season, the answer would seem to be yes. But take a closer look. This Jets defense has some excellent, young talent, but is plagued with a great amount of inexperience outside of Antonio Cromartie, Muhammad Wilkerson, Dawan Landry and David Harris. Quinton Coples came along strong at the end of last year, but will be relied upon to do more from an earlier point this season. A period of adjustment should be expected. DeMario Davis has great potential, but there are still a lot of unknowns with him, particularly considering the amount of reps he took on defense last year. Same could be said for safeties Josh Bush & Antonio Allen. Factor in the two rookies, who will be relied upon heavily this season, and it seems as if you’ve got some boom or bust potential there.

However, fans and observers cannot be so short sighted. The Jets did a good job of bringing in some low cost, low risk veterans to ease this transition. Antonio Garay, Calvin Pace, and Antwan Barnes are all players that could see more time early than some of the youngsters. As the season progresses, however, expect the vets to be phased out, while the younger players are given bigger roles. So, while this defense has the chance to be great, an average start is certainly not out of the question. The unit has boom potential, but bust is not a word I’d associate with their chances, especially with Rex Ryan still at the helm.

A sense of hunger is upon us. Heading into camp, does the attitude of this team not have a similar feel to the attitude of the 2009 team? Surely, the talent level on that 2009 team was better on paper than this team as of right now, but the “us against the world” feeling seems to be back. Before most of the guarantees (Rex’s introductory press conference aside), before Hard Knocks, before hold outs, before GQ magazine covers. It was a time when 53 guys and a coaching staff wanted nothing more than to come out swinging and let the world know that the Jets had arrived.

Now, in 2012, you have some of the same sentiments.

You have an owner looking to prove he is not the incompetent leader the media has made him out to be. You have a rookie General Manager eager to take his first step in the right direction and to set the tone for his regime. You have a Head Coach eager to prove himself to be not just a brilliant defensive mind, but a man who can lead a team to some great things. You have a rookie Defensive Coordinator eager to get out of the shadows of Mike Pettine and Ryan. You have an Offensive Coordinator out to prove he can fix the issues this team has faced at the quarterback position. You have two running backs who want to prove they can be elite given the opportunity, a rookie quarterback wanting nothing more than to prove his doubters wrong, a tight end hoping to show he isn’t the washed up injury bug many have made him out to be, offensive lineman looking to develop cohesion, a group of wide receivers eager to prove they aren’t the lowly group they’ve been painted to be, a group of defensive backs who want to show they are still an elite unit, even without their best player, linebackers looking to bounce back and show themselves, and a defensive line chomping at the bit to prove they are one of the most talented units in all of football.

Yeah, I’d say there is some hunger within this organization. Whether or not it all translates into on field performance will be up to the men inside the building. But hunger is apparent, and Jets Nation should be excited about that.