As the New York Jets and their players report to what they hope is the start of a successful season, it is time I shared with you six things I am thinking about training camp…welcome back to football.
1. Adam Schefter’s tweet about the Jets and free agent QB Ryan Fitzpatrick not having any contact and a contract resolution nowhere in sight.The attention turns to current Jets starting QB Geno Smith. We have beaten this storyline to death over the last few months, so these are my last thoughts about it heading into camp. The Jets prefer Ryan Fitzpatrick. It’s okay to admit that and realize that Ryan Fitzpatrick is a below average QB in the NFL who benefitted from the best receiving duo in the league and the AFC’s leading rusher, as well as a system that takes his weaknesses (inability to read a defense, only able to make one read) and manages them so they don’t cost you games.
The Jets seem to believe that Geno Smith could play in this system and benefit from having actual talent around him (the only NFL caliber WR Geno has played with as a starter is Eric Decker) and that they can get comparable production out of him. It’s okay to admit that and realize that Geno Smith is currently a below average QB who would benefit from having the best receiving duo in the league and one of the better running backs in the NFL. Everyone seems to believe this debate is black and white (in some weird way it is, but we won’t get into that), but it really is about recognizing the flaws of both players, wanting either of them to play well, and trusting your front office to do the right thing for the long term health of this franchise.
Committing big money to Ryan Fitzpatrick isn’t smart for this franchise. Franchise tagging Geno Smith next year should he play well may not be the smartest thing for this franchise. Trust the system, realize its worth, and trust in Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan to do what is right. Even if we don’t agree with it, they seem to k now what they’re doing so far with the exception of a couple of questionable picks.
2. The bigger contract issue heading into training camp is that first round pick Darron Lee is still unsigned. For a guy that is supposed to play a key role in revamping this Jets defense, and given how complicated Bowles’s defense has been for young players, I’d think there’d be more of a push to get him into camp. Rookie contracts are essentially non-negotiable since the rookie scale, so Lee should consider himself fortunate that the Fitzpatrick contract drama has drowned him out. I always question rookies who show more of an affinity for their contract, and Lee hasn’t done much to quiet those questions for me. He needs to sign and get into camp because the questions about who is and who isn’t in camp are never good questions.UPDATE: LEE SIGNED A FULLY GUARANTEED FOUR YEAR CONTRACT AS THIS ARTICLE WAS BEING PUBLISHED.
3. The Jets have done a good job over the years of managing veterans who are getting long in the tooth or coming off injury plagued seasons. Laron Landry, Calvin Pace, Ladainian Tomlinson, Marshall, and Fitzpatrick have had their training camp reps managed so that they are fresher for the season. Now the Jets have Matt Forte, who is 30 years old and coming off a down year for him. I am interested to see if the Jets have him on some sort of a pitch count during the early parts of training camp. Forte is vital to the team’s success this year, and he showed he still has a lot left in the tank so keeping him fresh early on will be very important.
4. There were whispers that Darrelle Revis lost a step. While I didn’t really notice a drop off in his play per say, Revis did look leaner and in better shape during this offseason during his few public appearances. I predicted that Revis will win Defensive Player of The Year this year, and I think he is on a mission to silence the doubters this year. Training camp is the first step towards that. Is this the Revis of old? is it just an older Revis? With the improved speed and pass rushing off the edge around him, plus another year under Bowles’s system for most of the defense, this will be Revis’s finest season yet.
5. I think the most important players for the Jets this season end up being 7 of the John Idzik picks; Geno Smith, Dee Milliner, Sheldon Richardson, Calvin Pryor, Brian Winters, Quincy Enunwa, and Jace Amaro. Gene Smith, I think, will end up being the starting QB so this goes without saying. Milliner is my pick to start opposite Revis, so he will be targeted a whole bunch. if he is the Milliner we saw towards the end of 2014, the Jets defense will be that much better. if he isn’t, the Jets defense will suffer. Sheldon Richardson was never the same after returning from his suspension, so he needs to do a better job of getting in game shape and staying that way through THIS suspension because he is essentially playing for his future with the Jets this season.The defense struggled mightily without Pryor last year, and they need him healthy if they want to be as good as the defense thinks they already are. Winters has developed into a competent starter at guard who elevates his game when facing elite competition. He will be pushed by Jarvis Harrison this year, but Winters is the better player and needs to become more consistent in order for whoever the QB ends up being to have time in the pocket. Enunwa, Jermichael Finlay-light if you’ve been following me this offseason, and Amaro are the two weapons that will go a long way towards diversifying this predictable Jets offense.
Enunwa is a physical freak with a huge catch radius, and who will only continue to improve with more reps. Amaro was the best TE from the 2014 rookie class, and is a beast in the red zone. If he gets lined up out wide, with Decker in the slot, it’s going to be tough for cornerbacks to cover either of them one on one and it will most likely be Decker who draws the attention on that side of the field.
Whoever the QB is will have to take advantage of those matchups, and Amaro will have to win them consistently.
6. With all the craziness going on in the world, it’s good to have football back. No matter where you stand on certain issues, it has been great interacting with all of you on social media this offseason. I look forward to a great season rooting for the team we all love. A hat tip to the amazing staff at TOJ for all the work they’ve done in getting us ready for this season, and a hat tip to all of you for sticking with us during what feels like the longest offseason ever. Now it’s time to go to work. #FreeGeno #GenoApologist #ImwithHack #BringBackFitz #JustWin #TOJ
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com