It's only a few weeks before the regular season and some players are not physically there, some not mentally there and some just not good enough. So today I'm going to look at five players who need to improve by Sept. 9.
1. Mark Sanchez
Depending on your stance regarding the quarterbacking battle, you may think that Sanchez has played well enough to deserve the starting spot. Or, you may think that Sanchez is one more interception away from saying goodbye to his starting position.
Regardless, Sanchez must improve on his decision making. Even though the Jets may be grounding and pounding, which means Sanchez needs to be a game manager rather than a game changer, coaches and fans alike want to see Sanchez make an intermediate to deep pass. Of course this is contingent on the fact that he one day has the proper blocking to have time.
2. Austin Howard
I can’t say that I’ve seen Howard play much outside of this season. But after reading scouting reports and watching a little bit of college tape, I realize he has decent speed off the ball, but gets a little lazy with his arms and has somewhat raw technique. Assuming he even paid attention on the practice squad last year, he was gaining insight from offensive line guru Bill Callahan.
He will definitely be a much-improved starter over Wayne Hunter, and if you don’t believe me, watch his Cincinnati tape. He didn’t have any highlight plays, but to be a starting offensive lineman, to not hear your name called is a good thing. He could turn into a consistent starter in New York and may even keep the job going into 2013 (although he’d really need to prove a lot for most people to be okay with that).
Still, he was exposed badly in the second game, even against the Giants’ second string. Hopefully he isn’t beaten too many times when it counts.
3. Joe McKnight
Some may say that he’s like Leon Washington, but I think he is more like Justin Miller. He has potential at his position (running back), but as of now, is considered nothing more than a return specialist. He flashed some big play ability in week one, only to lose carries to Bilal Powell against the Giants.
McKnight, being a faster and more versatile player, at least evident in the return game, likely fits the third down back role better than Powell. However, he needs to make the most out of his carries right now. A 15-plus yard play this week couldn’t hurt his standing.
4. Kyle Wilson
Seeing as how this used to be the Jets’ position of need, they filled the holes nicely. Wilson and Antonio Cromartie were both big name players who were ready to revitalize this secondary as best they could. The casual fan would think that this group is among the league’s best, but as a caring Jets fan, let me tell you that is far from being the case.
The main problem is Kyle Wilson, who can barely even control his duties as a nickel, much less the second cornerback position. He’s got to make some strides this offseason, because he hasn’t done anything of note. He keeps on making bad plays and allowing big gains off of them. He’s got to stop easy plays and remain consistent, or this will be another draft bust.
5. T.J. Conley
For T.J. Conley, the only way is up from the way he played last week. He must get “Slippery Cleat” because he just can’t get that ball going the way it’s intended to go. He’s a pretty decent inside-the-20 punter, but he’s not going to get anything done to put a team in bad field position when at the Jets’ 25.
And if you ask me, as soon as roster cuts begin, he could be shown the door in favor of a better punter.
So what do you guys think? Do all of these guys need to improve? Do any others need to improve? Leave a comment so I can see what you think.