Ahh, the start of NFL football, it is the most wonderful time of the year! Like little kids patiently waiting on Christmas Eve to open presents the next morning, New York Jets fans everywhere are giddy with anticipation as we prepare ourselves to open up our presents in a mere few hours and see what Santa brought us this football season. Will we open some shiny boxes and find our very own diamond in the rough like Victor Cruz this preseason (Ryan Spadola?), or will we get more lumps of Gholston (Vlad Ducasse)? Will Geno Smith shine as the latest in a long line of possible savior quarterbacks? Or will Mark Sanchez beat him out and try to bounce back from a disastrous 2012?
There are many questions when it comes to this Jets team, and while I don’t have all the answers for you, what I can do is tell you what imaginary player stocks you should be buying and selling so you can make imaginary money in our imaginary football players stock market. That’s right, it’s the return of the Stock Watch!For those new around these parts, I’ll be buying and selling Jets players, coaches, GM decisions, plays, predictions, stats, media members, more players, and just about anything else you can think of Jets-related as if they were stocks. Today will be focusing on what we should be looking for as the preseason gets started. And don’t forget to let us know in the comments or on Twitter whose stock you would be buying and selling with your Jets dollars. Let’s get started…
BUY: The QB Competition – I think the Jets brain trust has done a great job so far through training camp making Geno Smith vs. Mark Sanchez into a truly fair competition. Both players have gotten equal chances to win the job, and both have played pretty well for the most part. Neither is perfect and by all accounts they’re in a virtual dead-heat as the preseason games begin. What we should all be rooting for to see in these games is for both quarterbacks to play well and push each other, but for one to step up and WIN the job, no questions asked. The worst thing possible would be if neither QB truly earns the job and one of them gets it simply because the other one “lost” it and played like crap. If things are remotely close, then expect Geno to start against Tampa Bay week 1, but the coaches are doing everything possible to ensure the best man will start, and that’s a good thing.
SELL: Concern over Chris Ivory’s Injury – I understand it isn’t exactly ideal for your projected starting running back to miss the first two weeks of training camp with a hamstring injury… especially when that running back has a history of hamstring injuries. But that’s exactly where the Jets find themselves as Ivory won’t be playing against Detroit this week, which many would consider a bad thing. Well I actually think it’s exactly the opposite and Ivory taking it easy the first few weeks of camp is actually a blessing in disguise.
Ivory is a violent, explosive runner and it’s better that his reps are limited through camp so that he’s 100% ready to roll when the games actually count. “The Kraken” is expected to finally be released early next week in practice and then play in the second game of the preseason against Jacksonville. When healthy, Ivory is everything we all hoped Shonn Greene could eventually become, so these minor injuries in August shouldn’t concern Jets fans. If he’s still riding the bike during practice in two weeks, then we’ll revisit this. Until then, this is a non-issue.BUY: Stephen Hill – After a pretty underwhelming rookie season, things look like they’re finally starting to click for Mr. Hill. He’s been a standout throughout camp as he’s limited his patented drops and become more aggressive as a receiver. Hill himself has said that he’s started to attack the ball in the air and snatch it at it’s highest point rather than waiting for it to come to him, which has helped immensely. As a 6’4” receiver with blazing speed, that’s what you would call a good thing. Why it took him a full year in the NFL to realize he should do this is another issue, but it’s best to not think about that. If he can keep that going throughout the offseason, and stay healthy (knock on wood), then the Jets receiver issues won’t be as bad as they seem. Hill has the natural talent to be a #1 option and he’s just starting to scratch the surface of that talent.
BUY: Ryan Spadola – No matter who you ask, whether it’s a coach, reporter, fellow player, fan, or whoever else that has observed training camp, the guy that everyone raves about is Ryan Spadola. The undrafted receiver out of Lehigh has terrific speed and natural hands, and is making a major push to make the team as a reserve wide receiver. As of now, I’d have to say his chances of making the final 53 are pretty solid, and I’m very much looking forward to watching him play against the Lions, not just as a receiver, but on special teams as well because that is likely his ticket toward a roster spot.
BUY: The Defensive Line – Don’t worry, I won’t waste our time repeating myself about the Jets defensive line. This is just a reminder: These guys are going to be awesome.
HOLD: Ricky Sapp – Last year during camp, I wrote in this very space how high I was on Ricky Sapp and how much I was looking forward to him coming off the edge to get after quarterbacks when the season began. And then he got hurt. Well fast forward a year and it’s pretty much the same story; Ricky is having himself another terrific camp, but this time I’m not going to buy in just yet until he proves he can stay healthy for more than a few weeks at a time. If he’s still injury-free as the season starts, it’s basically a guarantee he will be on the roster and have himself a role rushing the passer. I think Sapp has a ton of ability and could definitely help the team… IF he can stay healthy. Unfortunately that’s a big “if”, so for now I’m holding off.BUY: Darrin Walls – With Kyle Wilson now doing double duty as a hybrid cornerback/safety, there are suddenly a lot of snaps to be taken by another corner in the slot this year. Expect that role to be filled by Darrin Walls. Walls was impressive in his late-season cameos last year and carried that momentum into this offseason where he’s been very impressive and worked his way into more and more defensive packages. And lets face it: The Jets can certainly use some help in the nickel and dime packages this year because Ellis Lankster was dreadful playing inside last year. If you want to brush up on what kind of player Walls can be for Rex Ryan’s defense this year, be sure to read this. There’s plenty of room on the Darrin Walls bandwagon, and his stock could net you a pretty nifty return.
SELL: Antonio Allen, Starting Safety – I’m not necessarily selling on Allen the player, but rather on Allen as a starting full-time safety. After drawing some high praise early in camp, it seems as though he has fallen off and just can’t be relied upon in coverage. There is certainly a role for Allen in Rex’s defense, as he’s physical, a good blitzer, and solid against the run, but he’s just not meant to be an every down player at this point in his career. Kyle Wilson is slowly but surely moving over to play more safety, and Jaiquawn Jarrett could start to steal some playing time. Speaking of Jarrett…
BUY: Jaiquawn Jarrett – The 2011 2nd-round pick of the Eagles has quietly put together a very solid camp according to reports. He was miscast in the Eagles comically bad defense and released after just one season before being scooped up by the Jets. Jarrett has the size and athletic ability to thrive in Rex Ryan’s defense and I fully expect him to pick up some steam as the preseason progresses. Don’t be surprised if he’s the man standing across from Dawan Landry at safety when the Bucs come to town week 1.