What We've Learned About Every Positional Unit so Far in Preseason

Chris Dela RosaContributor IAugust 13, 2012

What We've Learned About Every Positional Unit so Far in Preseason

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    Preseason is in full swing, the New York Jets are coming off a 17-6 loss against the Cincinnati Bengals and are looking to rebound this week against the New York Giants and rebound during the season after an abysmal 2011 campaign.

    But, what have we learned since the Jets began practicing up at Cortland and travelled to "Who Dey" nation?

    With that, let's take a look at what each positional unit has shown us up until this point in the preseason.

    As always, feedback is welcome.  Enjoy! 

Quarterbacks

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    Going into preseason and even during the first few weeks of training camp, all that was said about the quarterbacks was that Mark Sanchez was going to be the starter, while Tim Tebow would be his backup.

    As time went on, more and more details regarding Tim Tebow's role were released. He would be the Jets' main weapon when it came to running the Wildcat, and he would see some time on special teams.

    Now through the first preseason game, it seems like the Jets and their fans may not have to worry about the whole Sanchez-Tebow battle that most people (even myself) have deemed inevitable.  

    On Friday night when Sanchez was doing a sideline interview, he spoke about how he changed the way he prepared for the upcoming season and how he was excited for 2012 with the Jets; the New York Post later came out with a story describing Sanchez's change to his regimen.

    When comparing how the two played on Friday night and think about their roles within the team at large, it looks like Sanchez will do well in 2012 and won't lose his spot. Although it was just preseason, he was making the right decisions, taking risks when warranted and making plays.  

    Meanwhile, Tim Tebow had a solid day where he made some plays on his feet, and not many with his arm, and that is why the Jets will have him in the wildcat. Tebow is a guy who is better on his feet who just happens to have a good arm but isn't really starting-quarterback material.

    So, for all you Sanchez fans, you can take a deep breath and relax for a little bit. Sorry Tebow fans, your man won't be taking over quite yet.

Running Backs/Fullbacks

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    When it comes to the Jets at running back in 2012, they are going to have to rely on a two-back system between a power guy (Shonn Greene) and a speedy back (Joe McKnight). The offensive coordinator had a similar set-up last season in Miami with Reggie Bush and Daniel Thomas.

    How he handles Greene and McKnight should not be too different. There's not much else concerning these two backs; Shonn Greene will be the starter just like last season while McKnight comes off the bench.  

    But, one thing to look for is how they perform early on. If the running game does not get started early on, it could cause a problem for the entire offense, obviously not helping the team.

    Meanwhile, there is a small battle brewing for the third spot on the depth chart between the incumbent Bilal Powell and rookie Terrance Ganaway. The Jets believe Powell is a prospect worth holding onto as he possesses a good combination of power and speed at the running back position.  

    On Friday night, Powell did not show that ability. He spent a lot of the time dancing in the backfield rather than hitting holes that were right in front of him, and on five carries, he gained 16 yards.

    At the same time, the rookie Ganaway gained the same amount of yardage on four carries and may be making a case for the Jets to hold onto him this season and get rid of last year's draft pick.

    As for the Jets at fullback, John Conner will most likely be their starter in 2012, and there's not much else going on at that position.

Wide Receivers

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    There is only one major thing to know about the Jets at wide receiver, and that is they are thin, thin, and you guessed it, thin. Starters Jeremy Kerley and Santonio Holmes both sat out of the preseason opener against the Bengals, leaving five-year veteran Patrick Turner and rookie Stephen Hill as the starting receivers.

    The one good thing that came out of watching the Jets' second-string receivers playing with the first offense was that Hill did not make the Jets look stupid for picking, and Turner made them look smart for holding onto him for the last few years.  

    Turner started off the game with a few nice catches, but Hill was the most impressive. The rookie did well when Tim Tebow threw him an atrociously high pass on a comeback route. He also killed a Bengals receiver on a great slant route, which has been the Jets go-to route for the last few years.

    The bottom line is that while the Jets have some solid receivers right now, aside from Holmes they are pretty inexperienced and need another reliable guy on the roster.

Tight Ends

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    According to Dustin Keller and the New York Daily News reporter Manish Mehta, nothing is going to really change when it comes to his performance in 2012.

    Keller is saying that he will have a Pro Bowl-caliber season in 2012, even if he is projected to not have a huge impact due to the Tony Sparano offense. 

Offensive Linemen

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    It seems as if the Jets are doing the best they can to avoid having Wayne Hunter, who couldn't even play in the team's first game because of an injury start at right tackle this season.

    A few weeks ago, they made a trade with the Carolina Panthers for Jeff Otah. In exchange, the Jets would give Carolina a draft pick. Unfortunately for both teams who could have benefited from the trade, Otah could not pass the physical, and the trade was nullified.

    On Friday night, the Jets had former Eagles lineman Austin Howard take Hunter's place at right tackle, and he was actually solid. After a shaky start that included giving up the inside to a defensive lineman, Howard found his footing and had a solid outing.  

    A nice little battle should be expected in the Jets camp between the two for the starting spot. Maybe it will even give Hunter a push to be the player the Jets and fans once saw in him.

    As for the backups on the Jets' offensive line, if anything were to happen to a starter, they would have big problems. After the Jets took out their starters, the second- and third-string offensive linemen were having an immense amount of trouble with keeping Cincinnati defensive linemen from getting into the backfield.  

    While it was just the first game of preseason, after watching Greg McElroy take some bad hits, these linemen better shape up or McElroy could get seriously hurt and miss yet another season. 

Defensive Linemen

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    The big story from the Jets' first preseason game was the performance by their first-round pick Quinton Coples. Coples came into the game with a chip on his shoulder as he racked up five tackles, a sack, two tackles for a loss and a deflected pass.  

    After that game, one thing Jets fans can take a breath about is, so far, they do not have another Vernon Gholston on their hands.

    Something else learned is that the switch to the 4-3 defensive scheme by Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is starting to pay off. When the Jets faced the Bengals, the defensive line without Sione Pouha was filling gaps like crazy and making sure BenJarvus Green-Ellis had nowhere to run.  

    The line faced a bit of difficulty stopping the run last season in comparison to Rex Ryan's first two years as Jets head coach—looks like they took a step in the right direction with the switch in their defensive scheme.

Linebackers

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    With the new defensive scheme in place, it seems as if the Jets have some work to do with their linebackers during the rest of preseason. Against the Bengals, David Harris (pictured) was late to cover a pass that led to a Cincinnati third-down conversion.  

    Meanwhile "Mr. Can't Wait," Bart Scott could not even cover Green-Ellis who had a nice 18-yard reception that also helped give the Bengals on a third-down conversion in the first quarter.

    Last season, Bart Scott saw himself on the sideline during plenty of third-down scenarios because he is not the player he used to be. He lacks the speed to cover guys man to man, forcing the Jets to substitute somebody else in. Although he lost weight in the offseason, it seems Scott still lacks some speed.

    It's a good thing that the Jets drafted Demario Davis out of Arkansas State in the third round of this year's draft. Davis has been spoken about plenty since being drafted, and on Friday night, he did not make as big of a splash as Coples, but he did have a solid night, finishing with five tackles and a tackle for loss.

    Davis will most likely take Scott's spot on third downs in the Jets' sub package when they need a linebacker for coverage. He possesses the footwork, speed and knowledge to cover tight ends and running backs, while still being able to attack the quarterback if the situation calls for it.

    Bottom line for this group is there is still some work that lies ahead, but with the current system in place, they are in good shape.

Cornerbacks

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    Might as well get the obvious out of the way with this section early. Your 2012 starters at cornerback for the Jets are Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, and Kyle Wilson will get plenty of reps throughout the season.

    As for the other guys behind these three, they are like the backup offensive linemen. They need to change the way they play as soon as possible. More specifically, Ellis Lankster and Isaiah Trufant need to change the way they play.  

    On several occasions, the cornerbacks were letting the Bengals receivers abuse and embarrass them.  For example, while covering the Bengals' fifth-round selection Marvin Jones, Trufant fell, allowing a 40-plus-yard completion. 

    The poor play by Lankster and Trufant made Julian Posey look great during the few plays that came his way, probably boosting his position on the depth chart to be right behind Kyle Wilson.  

    Posey showed an ability to locate the ball and make a good tackle on running plays, while being able to cover a receiver so well that even when he makes a spectacular catch.

    Posey's coverage was so good that the receiver was out of bounds when trying to make the spectacular play.

    Should a starting cornerback go down for the Jets in 2012, there may be big problems, especially after reading the next slide.

Safeties

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    Every since Kerry Rhodes left New York, the Jets have seemed to have problems at safety. In 2010 and 2011, they lost Jim Leonhard to season-ending leg injuries midway through the season, and then, they had to deal with the shaky play of Eric Smith

    Not even a month into the season, the Jets safeties are already taking a hit as Smith went down during Friday's preseason game against the Bengals and will be missing the rest of preseason with a sprained MCL. 

    During the offseason, the Jets added some veteran safeties as a band-aid. They added former Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell and former Redskin LaRon Landry. While Bell seems like a great pickup to replace Jim Leonhard who will not be in green and white in 2012, Landry was a sketchy addition.  

    Going into this season, Landry has missed 15 of 32 games and is coming off an Achilles injury, and with Smith out, he is going to be the starter.

    With Smith out and Landry in, the Jets are leaving a lot to chance at the free safety position. Even if Smith takes over as starter again, he won't be playing too well. Last year, it turned out that Smith played with an injury, and he looked horrible on the field.  

    The Jets really need to find a permanent solution for this big hole at safety, after two years of trouble, there it is looking like the third time will be the charm and do the Jets in once again.

Special Teams

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    For Nick Folk, it is just another year—another competition for the starting kicker job. Folk has been the Jets' starter since the 2010 season, and last year, he outlasted the San Diego Chargers' current kicker Nick Novak.  

    This year his competition is Josh Brown.  

    Last year, Brown was on the St. Louis Rams going 21-of-28 with his longest kick being 49 yards compared to Folk who went 19-of-25 with his longest being a 51-yard shot.

    Keep your eye on this as the beginning of the regular season approaches. Unless he gets hurt or has several poor weeks during training camp and preseason games, Nick Folk will most likely be the Jets kicker in 2012. T.J. Conley will return for his second year as punter.