New York Jets: What We've Learned Through Week 2 of Training Camp
A majority of the hype surrounding Jets camp remains concentrated on the so-called quarterback competition between incumbent Geno Smith and veteran newcomer Michael Vick.
While neither signal-caller dazzled in the preseason opener, both exhibited why they're competent enough to take the reins of Marty Mornhinweg's West Coast offense.
The Jets defense has been reportedly stout throughout team practice, according to Seth Walder of New York Daily News, but it appeared somewhat vulnerable against the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night, allowing backup QB Matt Hasselbeck to lead an 80-yard touchdown drive in less than four minutes.
The Jets' ability to find the end zone in their preseason opener was encouraging, considering New York's glaring lack of ability to execute inside of opponents' 20-yard line in 2013. In 2012, New York didn't score a preseason touchdown until its final tuneup before the regular season.
The Jets' Vick-led TD drive unofficially upped the intensity of the QB battle. It also showcased why the Jets offense is much more dangerous with Chris Johnson in the backfield.
The Jets are a different team in 2014. They're more potent on offense and seemingly improved in the secondary on defense.
The following slideshow highlights five things we've learned through the first two weeks of Jets training camp.
5. A.J. Edds Is a Beast
A.J. Edds was an apparent non-factor at the onset of training camp, but the former fourth-round pick is turning heads in a big way.
Edds has played just 11 games with three different franchises in his three-year career, and he hasn't played in a regular-season game since 2012.
At 6'4'' and 246 pounds, Edds is a perfect fit in head coach Rex Ryan's 3-4 base defense. His size and speed appropriately enable his edge-rushing ability, which was on display against the Colts' second- and third-team offenses in the preseason opener.
Edds covered a ton of ground while racking up a team-high six solo tackles, including one for loss. He also secured the game-clinching fumble recovery.
Edds has recorded just six regular-season tackles throughout his pro career, but he could be on the verge of extended opportunity.
Edds is going to make the Jets' final 53-man roster if he continues to play at a high level for the remainder of camp. The 2010 draft pick could also be the beneficiary of Antwan Barnes' unknown status.
Barnes played in just five games for the Jets in 2013 before suffering a season-ending ACL injury. Dom Cosentino of The Star-Ledger previously reported the veteran pass-rusher had been cleared for quick-step drills and sprints, although there is no timetable for his return.
4. Geno Smith's Vision Has Improved
The biggest positive from the Jets' display on offense in their 13-10 preseason win over the Colts was the fact that second-year QB Geno Smith didn't turn the ball over, completing four of six pass attempts for 33 yards.
The Jets didn't dial up an aggressive play-calling scheme for Smith in the opener, although the projected starting QB is going to be challenged to stretch the field at some point during preseason action.
Smith's ability to throw perfectly timed passes on post patterns will be key, considering the arrival of highly touted free-agent receiver Eric Decker, who caught 15.3 percent of his pass attempts while running post routes in 2013, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Smith didn't force the ball into thick downfield coverage against the Colts, which was encouraging considering his knack for forcing ill-timed passes during his rookie season.
Smith was also able to elude an aggressive pass-rushing attack from the Colts, throwing the ball away in the face of pressure on his first series.
At a glimpse, it appears as though Smith's pocket vision has improved from last season, albeit in a small sample size against a defense that was without starting defensive backs LaRon Landry and Vontae Davis.
The Jets will be a much more efficient offense in 2014 if Smith is able to cut down on his alarming tendency to turn the ball over.
3. Chris Johnson Is Explosive as Ever
The Jets aren't expected to pound former 2,000-yard rusher Chris Johnson through the offensive line 275-plus times like the Tennessee Titans did in 2013; rather, Johnson will make up a dynamic tandem of speed and strength with Chris Ivory.
The two-dreaded monster wasn't wildly impressive in its debut effort against the Colts, but Johnson flashed some speed in open space. New York's best playmaking talent received six touches against the Colts, registering 18 total yards and one touchdown.
At 195 pounds, Johnson lacks the durability to plow through the trenches, but his ability to operate in the flats on dump-offs and screen passes adds a new dimension to the Jets offense.
Johnson flashed explosive quickness when granted room to run, recording a 10-yard reception from Vick on the Jets' only touchdown drive.
New York's run game will often force eight defenders into the box, enabling Johnson to rack up positive yardage in the flats on play action.
Johnson wasn't outrageously impressive in his preseason Jets debut, but he did show that he isn't the broken-down running back the Titans made him out to be.
2. Dee Milliner Is a No. 1-Caliber CB
Dee Milliner generated headlines during the first week of training camp when he told Manish Mehta of New York Daily News that he's the "best" cornerback in the NFL.
While Milliner is truly distant from making good on his somewhat outlandish comment, he demonstrated solid ball awareness in tight coverage against the Colts on Thursday night.
Milliner recorded two passes defensed and one tackle against the Colts' first-team offense, prompting Pro Bowl QB Andrew Luck to attack offseason acquisition Dimitri Patterson on the opposite side of the field en route to an opening-drive field goal.
Patterson's struggles aren't exactly what the Jets were hoping for when they signed the 31-year-old to a one-year deal last spring, but Milliner appears capable of becoming a top-tier cornerback sooner rather than later.
The Jets secondary struggled immensely in 2013, frequently allowing big plays on third down. That problem should become less of an issue if Milliner continues to play like he did in New York's preseason opener.
1. Michael Vick Still Has 'It'
A decent number of fans and pundits think Vick is more capable of effectively operating Mornhinweg's offense than Smith, given his familiarity with the Jets offensive coordinator and Smith's growing pains.
Vick has been criticized to some extent for his proneness to injury, but he showcased a unique, albeit familiar, skill set that unofficially increased the intensity level of the Jets' "quarterback competition" against the Colts.
Vick didn't tally as many total yards on the stat sheet (36) as Smith (43), but he led the Jets to their only touchdown of the game.
The 34-year-old QB doesn't lack mobility like an 11-year veteran from under center. He proved that on a 15-yard scramble against the pass rush which moved the Jets into Colts territory.
New York's passing attack appeared very vanilla for both QBs presumed to have a chance to start. Smith completed three of six pass attempts for just 17 yards, taking one sack for a loss of eight yards.
According to Ryan, the Jets have "two excellent quarterbacks" (h/t Associated Press), although neither signal-caller was asked to do a ton in the preseason opener.
Smith appeared to read through his progressions more effectively, whereas Vick did what most would expect him to.
The next few weeks are going to be intriguing for the Jets. The starting quarterback job now appears to be up for grabs; just don't tell Ryan that.
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