The New York Jets recently began OTAs, and we now have our first batch of revealing information about how the team will look in 2013.
OTAs are the first real chance to see a team in action after the offseason break. The Jets have had significant player turnover this offseason and have several intriguing draft picks, making them one of the more interesting teams to follow during OTAs.
Here are five things we have already learned about the 2013 New York Jets based on OTAs.
If anyone was still worried about Mark Sanchez getting the starting quarterback job by default, that concern can be put to rest. This quarterback competition is really happening.
While David Garrard has retired, and while Greg McElroy and Matt Simms are probably not getting much real consideration, the two top dogs (Sanchez and Geno Smith) are competing head to head.
The Jets' second-round pick at No. 39 overall in the most recent NFL draft, Smith has already received first-team reps and is impressing some people with his performances. If Sanchez wants to be the starter for a fifth straight year, he will have to outperform Smith and take the job on merit.
In 2012, then-rookie defensive end Quinton Coples did not get as much playing time as some might have anticipated. It took him some time to get a handle on all of his duties in various formations, and his endurance was brought into question at times.
Based on OTAs so far, it looks like Coples will be playing a very major role in 2013. Furthermore, his versatility is going to be needed.
In addition to playing defensive end, Coples has also been practicing at rush linebacker, a hybrid position that generally involves lining up hands-down but near where an outside linebacker would normally line up.
Coples is also capable of handling interior line positions and, in general, is going to be needed in a wide variety of formations. Expect to see more on his development as the summer progresses.
This should not be a huge shock to anyone who has followed the New York Jets throughout the Rex Ryan era, but so far, the defense appears to be more developed and ready to go than the offense.
Mark Sanchez has had some trouble connecting with his receivers against the Jets defense, and Geno Smith has had mixed results, impressing some days and struggling on other days.
The Jets still await the return of wide receivers Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill, so we will have to wait and see how this situation develops. However, right now, the defense looks closer to game-ready than the offense.
At the end of the 2012 season, the safety position looked like a gaping hole on the New York Jets' roster. There was talk of the Jets possibly considering a safety in the draft, but that did not happen in the end.
Instead, the Jets acquired free agent Dawan Landry from the Jacksonville Jaguars and kept two players from last year's roster: Antonio Allen and Josh Bush. This was a risky move, as none of those three guys is a proven, top-caliber player. On the other hand, their safety group suddenly got a whole lot younger.
It is hard to predict, but the safety unit might not end up being the weakest unit on the defense. There have been some positive reports, especially about Landry. In either case, health will be important, as there is not much in the way of depth at safety.
Quarterback Greg McElroy garnered some attention in 2012. He passed up Tim Tebow on the depth chart and even started a game for the Jets. This year, at least based on OTAs so far, it is not looking like McElroy is a real contender in the competition for the starting job.
If anything, it appears that McElroy might have to fight with Matt Simms for the third (and possibly last) spot on the depth chart. If that is so, then McElroy will need to worry about his roster spot more so than any chance at starting.
The summer is long, and things can always change, but McElroy is not looking like he will see significant regular-season playing time in 2013.