New York Jets: 5 Questions Heading into Training Camp
The New York Jets will get training camp started on July 26 at SUNY Cortland, and there are still many questions as the season slowly nears.
The offseason has been filled with headlines for the Jets, starting with the addition of quarterback Tim Tebow from the Denver Broncos. The biggest question last season surrounded the focus and dedication of the team, starting with head coach Rex Ryan, while the cross-town rival Giants shut their mouths and won the Super Bowl.
Now you can find Coach Ryan in Hollywood, playing a Patriots fan in Adam Sandler's That's My Boy.
The Jets will be watched closely all season after another year filled with broken promises and false guarantees. GM Mike Tannenbaum is also facing serious pressure after giving quarterback Mark Sanchez a three-year extension after a year full of turnovers and poor decision-making.
Here are five big questions for the Jets heading into training camp.
1. How Will Tony Sparano Change the Jets Offense?
The bulk of frustration with the Jets offense woes started with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
Questionable play calls and a lack of a definite identity helped lead to the Jets' demise.
After years of having the fanbase call for Schottenheimer's head, there is finally a new sheriff in town to coach Sanchez and the once dominant run-oriented offense.
Last year, the Jets hardly went downfield at all with the ball and struggled to figure out how to do anything offensively in the first quarter, constantly starting out games in a hole with multiple three-and-out possessions.
New OC Tony Sparano will not only need to find a way to bring the run game back to where it was in 2009 and 2010, but also revolutionize the passing game with new rookie weapon Stephen Hill and veterans Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller.
Known for his work with the Wildcat offense in Miami, Sparano will also be responsible for finding a way to involve newly acquired Tim Tebow in a dominant offensive role that will keep defenses on their heels.
His leadership and intangibles are those of a fantastic coach. After all, he's from the Parcells tree in Miami. That being said, Sparano will be under a lot of scrutiny and will need to perform. The Jets need to establish a true identity and a way to control the ball like they used to in Rex Ryan's earliest "Ground and Pound" years.
2. How Can the Offensive Line Improve from Last Year?
What once was the pride of the organization has slowly become one of its biggest problems heading into the 2012 season.
While center Nick Mangold and tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson played at their best, each being named to the Pro Bowl, the rest of the offensive line played miserably all season.
The Jets offensive line continued to allow Sanchez to get hit game after game, showing no sign of improvement or coherence—specifically with tackle Wayne Hunter, who started all 16 games and allowed 11 sacks and 32 QB pressures.
Additionally, former second-round draft pick Vlad Ducasse has showed zero reason why he should be allowed on the football field, looking more lost and clueless on every snap he's played.
But Hunter has been the weakest link. After replacing veteran leader Damien Woody at right tackle, he showed no signs of improvement or any bit of consistency throughout the tumultuous season.
While the offensive line cried for help this offseason, the Jets failed to add any help, ignoring their biggest flaw and imperfection and refusing to address any help through the draft or free agency.
Offensive line coach Bill Callahan turned down an extension with the Jets, so this summer will be a very important one for the squad. They will have to start from scratch and find ways to give Sanchez more time, more protection and more support. The run game needs to improve, and it starts with the big boys upfront. If the run game improves, inevitably Sanchez will get more time and better looks, something he hasn't had in quite some time.
3. Was Quinton Coples the Right Pick?
Heading into the 2011 college football season, UNC DE Quinton Coples was as high as anyone on NFL draft big boards.
His freak athleticism and versatility, along with his muscle and size, make him an instant threat as a pass-rusher.
However, after a very disappointing year for the Tar Heels—one in which he showed a lack of care and dedication—his draft stock dropped and experts had no idea where he would land.
The Jets were lucky to have Julius Peppers 2.0 fall to them after many teams passed on him in the first round. Now, Coples has a huge opportunity to play well along with second-year player Muhammed Wilkerson and emerging star Sione Pouha.
If Coples plays well, this pick will be remembered as a highlight for the Jets organization for years to come.
However, after coming off a few weak drafts and bust Vernon Gholston still fresh in memory, GM Mike Tannenbaum and coach Rex Ryan will be under pressure to have Coples perform early and often. The Jets can't tolerate the attitude problems and inconsistency he showed at UNC.
If he plays well, Coples could be one of the best "value picks" of the draft and a beast of the AFC East for many years.
4. Can Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez Actually Work?
The question of how quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow will coexist will be easily the biggest story all season long for the Jets.
The talk about the Jets all season long had been based on learning to stop talking and just playing the game. The Jets vowed to not be the three-ring circus they were during Santonio Holmes explosion in Miami during Week 17, promising to take their lost guarantees more seriously.
Then they bring in the biggest athlete in the world, Tim Tebow, to back up the already harshly criticized Mark Sanchez. Can these two play together or will it ultimately lead to the Jets apocalypse?
The two should have no problem with one another.
Tebow has already accepted his role as backup and will look to help the team in anyway possible. He is even going to Sanchez's Jets West camp later this summer.
If Sanchez begins the season where he left off last year, the fans will be crying for Tebow. However, if Sanchez plays well, all of the talk about a controversy will end. Additionally, Tebow will be a fantastic addition to come in and shake things up for the Wildcat and Special Teams trick plays.
Tebow's leadership and intangibles are untouched and unmatched in the NFL, and he will help unite the fractured locker room that everyone saw in Miami last season.
It's a win-win for the Jets. Either Sanchez plays well while Tebow helps out in the locker room and on the field, or Sanchez doesn't play well, the Jets finally get a true read on Sanchez's future, and still hold one of the league's most clutch players in reserve.
5. Will Darrelle Revis Holdout Again?
Two years ago the Jets faced their worst nightmare. Star Cornerback Darrelle Revis was holding out all summer long, only to reluctantly agree to a "band aid" deal from the organization.
Now, after recently named the best defender in the NFL in the league by NFL.com, Revis has every reason to want to holdout again for more money. This is everything the Jets do not need right now.
With all that's going on to the team—a new offensive coordinator, new additions in the secondary, the addition of Tim Tebow and a broken locker room—the Jets need their biggest defensive leader to be in camp from day one, setting an example for the team.
The last thing the Jets need right now is to have their best player missing during their most crucial portion of the summer. Not to mention how this would affect the loyal fan base who just watched as the Giants played as a team and won the Superbowl.
A Revis holdout would be disastrous and would set the tone for a difficult start. Revis has proven his importance and worth to the team. If the organization doesn't want to pay him, then trade him and aim to get something unbelievable in return.
However, that is the wrong decision. A player of Revis' value and knowledge of the game comes once in a lifetime, and the Jets would be silly to give him up. The Jets shouldn't have any reason not to pay him. He is the best at his position, and the best defensive player in the game.
His presence on the field instantly changes the opponents strategy. The Jets need to give him his money and have him on the field when Training Camp starts.