In exactly one month, the New York Jets will report to their 2014 Training Camp at SUNY Cortland. The coaching staff and veteran players have some down time before things heat up again in Central NY. But with minicamp just completed, it’s time to take a quick look back and find out what we learned.
Geno is the Guy: Most pundits believe the Jets QB job is Geno Smith’s to lose considering Marty Mornhinweg said the second-year pro will get 70-75% of the reps in Cortland and the OC has to continue the progress of the young quarterback.
Smith looked awfully confident this spring. His body language was positive and he did not panic when pressure was on the way. And don’t plan on Smith withering from Mike Vick’s presence either, considering the quarterbacks are a close-knit bunch and the two have bonded. Smith is faster, stronger and leaner than he was as a rookie and he is continuing to progress with protections and reads.
Don’t Forget About Bilal: The Jets will be more than just Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson at running back. Bilal Powell, who led the Green & White with 969 total offensive yards in 2013, doesn’t have a weakness. He is shifty, he can catch the rock and he is a sturdy run blocker. Ivory is one of the best power runners in the game and Johnson should provide another explosive element once he is cleared for full team drills, but No. 29 is a heck of an asset. The Jets are stacked at running back.
Decker, Kerley & ?: The Jets like their depth at the wide receiver position and they improved immediately with the free-agent signing of Eric Decker. Jeremy Kerley (aka “Vanilla Smoove”), who has led the Jets in receptions and receiving yards the past two seasons, is a nifty route runner with sure hands. While Kerley can play inside or outside, the Jets are going to need somebody to step up from a group that includes Stephen Hill, David Nelson, Clyde Gates, Shaq Evans, Jacoby Ford, Jalen Saunders and Greg Salas.
Secondary May be Green: By the end of the 2014 season, there is a possibility that the Jets could line up with a starting defensive backfield that features Dee Milliner and Dexter McDougle at the outside corners and Calvin Pryor and Antonio Allen at safety. That is a talented quartet, but a young group. As it stands now, McDougle will push for playing time behind Dimitri Patterson on the outside and Kyle Wilson at nickel. Dawan Landry, who is the QB of the secondary, remains a huge presence and the Jets could opt to use a lot of three-safety looks at times.
Harris & Pace are Defying Logic: At some point, David Harris and Calvin Pace will begin to age. But like a pair of fine wines, they actually appear to be getting better. The 30-year-old Harris, who collected a career-high 149 tackles last year and is third on the franchise’s all-time tackle list with 869, ranks second amongst all NFL inside linebackers since 2009 with 18.5 sacks. He not only gets everyone lined up right in the front seven, but Harris is running around better than ever. The 33-year-old Pace, who racked up 10 sacks in his 11th NFL season, arguably plays the run better than any Sam ‘backer (strong side) in football. Like Harris, Pace is a heady player quick to diagnose and then disrupt.