New York Jets: Recapping the Latest Buzz Heading into Training Camp
It may be the dead of summer in the slowest news cycle on the NFL calendar, but there is never dead silence at One Jets Drive. With the season just around the corner, expectations and anticipation are building as the Jets get set to begin training camp at the end of the month.
Football is not being played, but the Jets have running backs with unrealistic expectations and a quarterback set on the Super Bowl while being bashed by a franchise icon.
Here is the latest buzz surrounding the Jets as they head into training camp.
Chris Johnson Has Unrealistic Expectations
The Jets have one of the best one-two punches at the running back position—just don't tell Chris Johnson.
The artist formerly known as CJ2K is in the realm of thinking that being in a timeshare behind Chris Ivory won't be an issue at all because he will be too effective to take off the field. He told Dan Hanzus of NFL.com:
Once the season starts and once we're playing and I'm doing my thing, I'm pretty sure if I'm making plays they're going to want to keep handing the ball off to me...If they want me to continue making plays, I'm pretty sure I can't do that if I'm on the sideline.
As the more durable of the two runners by a wide margin (Johnson has missed just one game in his career, back in 2008), it is possible that Johnson becomes a bigger part of the Jets offense by default.
Assuming Ivory is healthy, Johnson will undoubtedly take a backseat simply because Ivory was so good at times last season, especially after contact (fourth among all runners in total yards in this category). Ivory is clearly the better choice on first and second down, when most of the running is done.
Johnson also told Bleacher Report that he expects 1,500 yards this season—quite a high total for any runner, let alone a member of a platoon system.
Whether he likes it or not, CJ2K appears to be in for a bit of an ego check being the No. 2 runner for the first time in his career.
Geno Smith Believes Super Bowl Is Within Reach
He has only been in New York for just over a year, but Geno Smith is already starting to sound like his (formerly) boisterous head coach, discussing Super Bowl odds in the dead of summer.
Smith told NFL Network that he believes that despite coming off an average (if miraculous) 8-8 season, he "feels good" about the Jets' chances of making it to the Big Show.
Vegas odds say otherwise, but the fact that the Jets are long shots to go so far is irrelevant. Every player should have such high aspirations, but Smith verbalizing it shows how far he has progressed as a leader of the team.
If you recall, Smith guaranteed a postseason appearance moments after he was drafted. A year later, he has his eyes set on the Super Bowl.
Smith can be as loud (or quiet) as he wants. This is a make-or-break season for him either way in his second season as the starter. A strong 2014 would put him in the driver's seat for the near future—a collapse would put the Jets right back in the quarterback market a year from now.
Antwan Barnes Proposes in Bizarre Fashion
Spicing up what is always the slowest month of the NFL calendar was veteran outside linebacker Antwan Barnes, who found a way to propose to his girlfriend in an eyebrow-raising fashion.
Still not entirely sure whether or not it would be the right move to go through with the decision, Barnes found himself wide awake at night. After all, as he told Kristian Dyer of Metro, "Marriage is serious business."
By the time 3 a.m. rolled around, Barnes finalized his decision and chose not to bother with the usual dinner-date ordeal. He just rolled over, woke his girlfriend up and popped the question.
She thought it was my knee and that I was in pain...I answered, ‘No,’ but why don’t you go ahead and marry me?
Barnes is still in recovery from an ACL injury he suffered in Week 5 of last season, but it appears as if he will be well enough to walk down the aisle without a limp.
In what has certainly been a rigorous few months of rehab and uncertainty, some good news must be more than welcome in the Barnes household.
Dee Milliner Is Ready to Make Big Strides in Year 2
2013 was a humbling season for the ninth overall selection. Dee Milliner was benched on three separate occasions during the season—enough to send a player with more ordinary credentials to the sideline or unemployment line for good.
He did, however, manage to finish the season strong with three interceptions in his final three games. Now, he must carry his momentum into 2014 to prove his worth as a former No. 1 pick, as he told Tim Gayle of the Montgomery Advertiser:
I never thought [last year] would go like it went. But it was great, it just started off rough. I expected to have a better year but I finished the way that I wanted to play the whole year so I felt great about that. Coming into this year, that's what I'm trying to do. The way I finished, I want it to be like that the whole year, be consistent in my play.
Milliner is hardly the first player to struggle as a rookie before going on to enjoy a successful NFL career, but he is correct in stating that he must be more consistent, starting with his health.
After missing almost the entire 2013 offseason recovering from shoulder surgery, this was supposed to be a crucial spring for Milliner as he takes the next step in his development. Unfortunately, hamstring injuries struck again and sidelined him for more time, irritating his head coach.
Rex said Dee Milliner's challenge is "to be in world-class shape." Said young CB has all the talent in the world, but has to be on the field— Kimberley A. Martin (@KMart_LI) June 4, 2014
With a lot of questions at the cornerback position opposite him, the Jets are counting on Milliner to be the top cornerback they drafted him to be. If he has a season that resembles his rookie year, the Jets could field a very ordinary—if not worse—defense in 2014.
Joe Namath Is Not Impressed with Geno Smith
As unqualified as he is to evaluate modern NFL quarterbacks, when Joe Namath speaks, Jets fans listen as if he was Moses in the desert.
Namath told WFAN (h/t CBS New York) that he is not impressed with the Jets' projected starting quarterback in any particular area:
Just looking at him physically, what’s outstanding about his running ability? What’s outstanding about his passing ability? Nothing to me is outstanding about it, but it’s pretty good.
It sounds like Namath was trying to say that Smith did not have a trademark attribute that he could always go to, but a diss is a diss. This comes just a few months after he called Smith's projected backup, Michael Vick, "outstanding," per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com.
Namath is a Hall of Fame quarterback who is the most pivotal person in franchise history, but this is also a man who once believed in Mark Sanchez. For as much as Namath has done on the field in the past, he is just grasping for straws when it comes to quarterback predictions and evaluations.
However, he is not completely off-base in his evaluation of Smith, who was a second-round pick for a reason. Smith does some things well, but he does not have the rocket arm of Joe Flacco or the mobility of Vick.
That does not, however, mean that he cannot be an effective player at the next level—Smith just needs to be much more consistent to prove that he is the better option over the more exciting Vick.