Saturday, July 13, 2013

The 5 Things To Look For In Training Camp

     Each team has their own strengths and weaknesses. Each team spends countless hours in Free-Agency and the Draft to add players that can help limit their weaknesses and even improve their strengths. Training Camp is the time to get all the Players up to speed and ready to compete in the upcoming Season. Players will rise and fall and the Coaches will get a realistic view of the talent on their team and adjust their game plans from there. With that said, we will now take a look at 5 weaknesses that Jets fans should pay attention to and what Players can help the team.

     The Days of Sanchez supporters bringing up two  back to back AFC title games in Defense of a bad season by Sanchez are over. Instead, two back to back 26 turnover Seasons and a butt fumble is what is said about Sanchez. Due to the regression of Sanchez, for various reasons, the Jets drafted QB Geno Smith, of West Virginia. Smith was considered the top QB in this year's Draft and the Jets got a steal snatching him in the 2nd Round. Smith and Sanchez will compete for the starting position in new Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinwegs West Coast system. Sanchez has the early lead heading into Camp due to a mostly solid Off-Season and quick grasp of the new system and the inconsistant game from the Rookie. When the pads come on and bodies start flying fans and Coaches will look to see which player makes the quick and accurate throws and has the touch with the deep pass, which is a staple in Mornhinwegs system. I think Sanchez will win the job and expect him to revive his career, but if he doesn't the Jets have a young athletic QB in the waiting. Also look for the battle between Matt Simms and Greg McElroy for the #3 QB. Simms has shown improvement with his accuracy and decision making and McElroy proved last year that he is not able to step in and lead the team if the starter gets injured.

     Shonn Greene may have had a 1,000+ yard Season last year, but there is a reason why the Jets had zero interest in bringing him back. With the Adrian Petersons, Arian Fosters and even Marshawn Lynchs of the World the Jets are looking for a homerun hitter at the Runningback position. Shonn Greene wasn't a big threat to bust out a 40+ TD run.  Bilal Powell took some snaps from Greene and showed promise, but he is still a young and unproven player. The only threat the Jets had from the RB position last year was Kick-Returner specialist Joe Mcknight, but he has battled injury and fumble issues. The Jets traded a 4th Round pick to New Orleans for little used RB Chris Ivory who has battled injuries of his own. Ivory's biggest hurdle with his former team, was the Undrafted label. He was overlooked because of #1 Draft picks and big time Free Agent signings, but when Ivory was healthy and called upon he was dangerous, averaging 5 yards a carry for his career. The Jets also signed Free Agent Mike Goodson who is perfect for the West Coast system and will be a threat to receive out of the back field. Once his legal problems are settled look for Goodson to continue to show off the blazing speed that he has since joining the Jets. Fans should watch this position closely because once the pads are on the competition will change dramatically and some will shine bright. Did the Jets aquire a Fantasy Football threat or did they already have one on their Roster who is ready to step up and take the League by storm?

     This position probably has the biggest impact on the positions to watch already mentioned above. One of the reasons why Sanchez regressed in the past couple of years was largely due to a lack of talent from the WR position and lack of trust from Sanchez to the players running wrong routes, dropping passes and failing to create seperation from defenders. Santonio Holmes is trying to come back from a Season ending Lisfranc injury. Holmes was never truly a #1 WR which is why the Jets tried to Draft one last year in WR Stephen Hill from Georgia Tech. Hill was and still is a very raw prospect with all the natural ability and athleticism in the World. With a 6'5 frame and 4.3 speed he is a QBs dream, but Hill lacks hands and route running and is also coming off of a Season ending injury himself. He had struggled with drops this Off-Season and this is going to have to be corrected if he wants to be a reliable option in the passing game. One bright spot from the WR position is third year player Jeremy Kereley. Kereley lead the team in receptions last year and showed great chemistry with Sanchez, especially in third downs. It will be interesting to see how much Kereley improves and if he will be able to thrive on the outside while Holmes makes his way back to the field. Kereley may end up being one of the best Slot-Receivers in the game if Holmes can make it back to the field and Hill improves. The Jets also have Clyde Gates, but although he has great speed, he wouldn't make 90% of the Rosters in the NFL. The Jets didn't spend a single Draft pick on the WR or TE position this year and the Receiving Corp will most likely be the Weakest position on the team,  so fans need to pay close attention to some of the undrafted Rookies the Jets brought in this year and newly signed TE Kellon Winslow's knees.

     The New York Jets haven't had a double digit pass rusher since John Abraham in 2005. Due to this, many fans, including myself, wanted the Jets to Draft an OLB. Instead, after Drafting CB Dee Milliner  of Alabama to help stop the bleeding from the loss of Derrelle Revis, the Jets selected DT Sheldon Richardson of Missouri. Many didn't understand this pick until it was announced that last years first round pick DE Quinton Coples would be moved to the OLB position. In truth, Coples will play a hybrid DE/OLB position and will be asked to attack the QB from the outside, but he and Richardson will be lined up all along the Defensive front 7. Coples lead the team with 5.5 sacks last year only participating in 47% of the Defensive snaps. Drafting Richardson doesn't mean that the Jets didn't Draft a pass rusher this year though. In the last two Drafts the Jets selected DE Muhammad Wilkerson, who was the 2nd rated 3-4 DE behind only JJ Watt and who had 5 sacks last year and will help in the Pass Rushing stat himself,  NT Kenrick Ellis and DE Quinton Coples who were all described as "Dancing Bears", athletic big men who moved faster than their size should allow. None of those players though compare to the size to athleticism ratio of Sheldon Richardson. Last year Richardson lined up almost everywhere on Defense for Missouri even lining up at MLB and in High School he returned kicks.  Yes, a Defensive Lineman was quick and athletic enough to return kicks on Special Teams. Rex so far has moved Richardson all along the Front 7 and he has flashed as a Pass Rusher from the NT position causing some of the New York Media, who seem to never have anything positive to say about the team they deemed a "Circus" to state that, "Sheldon Richardson will do for the NT position what Lawrence Taylor did for the OLB position.". Richardson may end up being a very scary player for opposing Offenses and so might Free-Agent addition Antwan Barnes who was Drafted by the Ravens so is familiar with Rex Ryan and his Defense,  but spent the last few years with San Diego. Barnes is a Pass Rush Specialist who had 11.5 sacks in 2011, but saw his playing time cut after the Charges Drafted two OLBs last year.  Barnes may be over looked cause he isn't a big name, but his speed has been one of the talks of the Off-Season and he has a chance to create a name for himself with the New York Jets. The fans may have wanted a Pass Rushing OLB in the Draft,  but with Rex taking charge of the Defense again look for pressure to come from all over the Defense.

     A very big reason for the reggression of Sanchez's play and the Defense falling from #1 in Rex's first year in '09 to #8 last year was the Coaching. The Jets removed OC Tony Sporano and QB Coach Matt Cavanagh and replaced them with Marty Mornhinweg and David Lee respectively. This is an upgrade to both positions with Mornhinweg being one of the best Coordinators in the League who stresses accountability and Lee being a Coach that Rex persued last year that stresses fundamentals.  Mornhinweg's West Coast Offense differs slightly as he loves the deep pass. He has also stressed that he will call plays and game plan according to the talent of his players. He will maximize the talent, so it will be interesting to see just how aggressive the Jets Offense will be as Mornhinweg was brought in to provide an Offense to attack opposing Defenses as much as the Jets Defense will attack opposing Offenses. The Jets Defense also has a new Coordinator in Dennis Thurman, the former DB Coach who was promoted after former DC Mike Pettine and the Jets parted ways. Pettine was given more power as the years went on and the Defense suffered becoming more conservative with an emphasis on Coverage and less and less Blitz packages. With this being considered a make our break year for Head Coach Rex Ryan, he will resume play calling duties for his Defense and will focus on that area of the team leaving the Offense for Mornhinweg. Ryan is largely considered the best Defensive mind in Football today and you can expect an aggressive and dangerous Defense, but Rex will be held accountable for the Jets as a whole,  so it will be interesting to see the Coaches put all the players in the best position to succeed.  This is a huge year for the Jets Coaching staff and with new GM John Idzick now in charge failure by the Coaching Staff this year may see brand new leadership for the Jets in 2014.