5 Things New York Jets Must Solidify Before the Season Starts
The Jets made many major adjustments to their team this offseason through the draft, free agency and trades.
With all the new additions to their roster, the Jets are going to need to solve many position battles and assign new player roles during training camp.
Here are five things the Jets must solidify before the season starts to have a successful year during 2012-13.
The Starting No. 2 Wide Receiver
Santonio Holmes is the only clear-cut starting wide receiver on the Jets’ roster.
The remainder of the wide receivers the Jets have are all very young and inexperienced.
The best option appears to be the rookie out of Georgia Tech who the Jets took in the second round of this year’s draft—Stephen Hill. Hill is 6’4” and can spread the field for Holmes with his blazing speed. He ran a 4.3 40-yard dash at the NFL combine this year.
Another option is Chaz Schilens. The Jets signed the 26-year-old this offseason and has really impressed Rex Ryan so far in training camp. Ryan spoke with Randy Lange of NewYorkJets.com about how Schilens has been playing this summer,
Chaz is a physical guy and the best thing he does is when the pads come on — he’s one of the top blockers as a receiver in the NFL, kind of like what Braylon Edwards did for us. And he’s done a nice job catching the football. He made some deep catches and he’s a big target that runs fast. Those are all positives.
Ultimately, Tone and Hill will be the starters but expect to see Schilens and Jeremy Kerley in the game early and often.
Starting Right Tackle
The weakest spot on the Jets’ offensive line last season was at right tackle.
Wayne Hunter started all 16 games at right tackle for the Jets a season ago, even though he had a dreadful year. During the regular season, Hunter allowed a team-high 8.5 sacks and committed a team-high 11 penalties.
It appeared Hunter would be starting again for the Jets until the recent trade with Carolina for right tackle Jeff Otah. Otah is the 2008 No. 19 overall pick out of Pittsburgh but has only been healthy enough to play in 29 games so far in his career.
He's currently nursing a nagging knee injury that caused him to fail his physical with the Jets. If he doesn’t pass it, the trade will be nullified (via Jenny Vrentas, The Star-Ledger), and Otah will go back to Carolina where he was originally traded from.
New offensive coordinator Tony Sparano is a former offensive line coach, so you know he will get the most out of whichever tackle ends up starting.
The Rushing Scheme
The Jets have a ton of players who will definitely get carries for them in 2012. The Jets won’t just use running backs to get these carries, though, they will also be handing the ball off to wide receivers and even a quarterback.
The majority of the rushes will be taken by Shonn Greene, who rushed for over 1,000 yards last season, and Joe McKnight. These rushers complement each other very well, as Greene is a power back and McKnight is more of a scatback.
The Jets also have Bilal Powell and Terrance Ganaway on their roster. These two backs combined for 2,952 yards and 32 touchdowns in their final years at Louisville (Powell) and Baylor (Ganaway).
The Jets also like to use their wide receivers in their running game, and now, have two who can handle the ball with speed. Kerely had five carries during his rookie season with the Jets, and Stephen Hill has had 12 carries during his college career as well.
Besides these skill players, the Jets have a new quarterback who will certainly be featured in the rushing game. You may have heard of him before. His name is Tim Tebow.
Tebow rushed the ball 122 times last season for 660 yards and six touchdowns in only 14 games. With his 5.4 yards per carry average for his career, you know Sparano will use him heavily in the running game and may have him in the game with Mark Sanchez very often.
Starting Cornerback Across from Darrelle Revis
The Jets have three cornerbacks who are former first-round picks in the NFL draft—Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson. Revis will clearly start on one side, but it’s still up for debate as to who he will be starting with.
Cromartie has started in all 31 games he has played in with the Jets, but those were Wilson’s first two years in the league. Now in his third season with the Jets, Wilson is ready to compete for that starting role, even though Rex Ryan calls him the best nickel corner in the NFL.
ESPN’s Rich Cimini spoke with the Jets’ secondary coach Dennis Thurman about the potential battle between Cro and Wilson for the starting corner position.
"We fully expect Kyle to take another tremendous jump this training camp, in the preseason, and put himself in position to be a starter on this team. ... Kyle and I have had this conversation. I expect him to push (Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie). I know Revis, obviously, is probably the best corner in football, but who cares? You have to go out and compete. It's what's inside of you that you try to pull out. He has to accept that challenge. You never know, he may find himself out there starting. He has to think like it, he has to act like it and I fully expect him to play like it."
Regardless of which player starts, both of them will certainly be on the field together a ton. When all three are on top of their game, the Jets have the best cornerback trio in the NFL.
Tim Tebow’s Role on the Team
Tim Tebow’s role with the Jets couldn’t be more uncertain.
He wants to be competing with Mark Sanchez for the starting quarterback position. Tony Sparano wants to use him as a red-zone quarterback and tailback in wildcat formations. Special teams coach Mike Westhoff wants him to be his punt protector during punting situations.
So who’s going to get their way?
No one knows yet, but Tebow has said only the right things when he’s asked about what his role will be next season. Kimberley A. Martin of Newsday caught up with Tebow at minicamp who told her,
One of my favorite quotes is, 'I don't know what my future holds but I know who holds my future.’ That is how I try to handle everything. I am not too worried about being the man; I am just worried about being the best man I can be.
With that positive attitude, Tim Tebow will ultimately make a major impact for the Jets, no matter what role he’s playing.