Top Ten Things to Watch for the New York Jets in August
It's right around the corner. In just over a week from now, the rookies will report to the start training camp.
The NFL off-season is almost over and what an off-season it was for Gang Green.
Unless you've been sitting under a rock these past few months, you know that it's been an busy off-season for the Jets to say the least.
But that's over now and it's time to look forward to my favorite time of the year.
It's the end of July. Every die-hard NFL fan is excited to start the season and can't wait to see their team back in action.
There's new faces in camp, position battles and seemingly meaningless preseason games to the most casual NFL fans, but for those fans who bleed their team colors, this is the most anticipated time of the year.
Fans of all 32 teams actually believe in August that their team will win this year's Super Bowl.
But before we get to the Super Bowl...before the playoffs...before even the regular season starts, it's August, the month of training camps and preseason games.
For the 2009 New York Jets, these are the top ten things I will be looking forward to watch in August.
10. Jim Leonhard Handling Punts
Although Leon Washington has been the Jets punt returner for a few seasons now, it seems that Jim Leonhard, a newly signed safety formerly of the Baltimore Ravens will be handling the punts in 2009.
I'm glad to see Washington getting a break from punts. I'm sure Leonhard will be good, but he's never scored a touchdown on punt returns before.
9. Jones and Washington Contract Situations
I don't expect this to be a problem, but during the offseason a lot of reports emerged that Thomas Jones and Leon Washington felt overlooked by the Jets because of money issues.
Most fans would agree, Jones and Washington deserve more money for their incredible play on the field. Once again, I believe that both running backs will be in training camp, but how much of an issue will this be?
If the Jets don't give them more money soon, it could be disastrous. In order for the Jets to succeed this season, Jones and Washington need to be focused on football, not contract issues.
8. Marque Douglas as a starter
I'm glad to see Kenyon Coleman out of New York, he didn't contribute to our team. Marque Douglas is an upgrade, but how much of an upgrade? We'll see in August.
Coming from Baltimore, Douglas knows Ryan's defensive system well, but, just like the other starting DE, Shaun Ellis, he's a little long in the tooth.
The defensive line is the weakest spot on the Jets' defense. If Douglas plays well, the defensive of the Jets could be among the best in the league.
7. Shonn Greene in Action
During the draft, most NFL insiders were talking about Mark Sanchez and rightfully so. But overlooked during the draft was the third round pick of running back Shonn Greene.
The Jets already have two excellent running backs; the addition of Greene gives the Jets more versatility and options in the backfield.
During the pre-season, we'll get our first glimpse of Greene in action and I can't wait.
He's going to have a phenomenal preseason in 2009, and hopefully that will translate to a great regular season with the Jets.
6. Backup Offensive Line Contributions
The Jets have one of the best starting offensive lines in the league. But injuries will happen in the course of the season and that's what depth is for.
The Jets backup offensive linemen lack NFL experience. Not a single backup on the offensive line has ever started a game in the NFL.
Thus in August, the backups on the line must contribute well or otherwise, if injuries plague the Jets, they could be in trouble.
5. Jenkins Depth
Kris Jenkins proved to the league last season why he's one of the best nose tackles in the league. He also proved that as the season and each game drags on, he falls apart. Thus the Jets need good depth for nose tackle.
In August, the Jets must make sure that good depth is there. Sione Pouha had a shaky 2008 to say the least, and he needs to step up his game starting this August.
Fortunately, the Jets also signed Howard Green. By the end of August, hopefully we'll know whether Green or Pouha will be the first man off the bench for Jenkins. My money's on Green.
4. Can Dustin Keller Block?
Mark my words: Dustin Keller is going be the one of the top five tight ends for receiving yards in 2009. But, he needs to work on his blocking.
This is no secret for the second-year tight end, but with little depth at the tight end position, he needs to block on his own.
In training camp and the pre-season, we'll see if Keller is ready to become a full-time blocker in the NFL. If his blocking improves, which I'll be looking for, then he will be truly be a complete tight end.
3. Gholston as a starter
As soon as it was announced that Calvin Pace would miss the first four games of the season due to a suspension, this thought emerged in every Jet fans' mind: "Oh no, it's Gholston time."
That means that Vernon Gholston, who barely contributed to the team in his rookie season of 2008, would have to be a starter during the first four games of 2009.
Now I don't mean to sound harsh (bust!) but Gholston needs to step it up. Not just for his own sake, but the Jets depend on him now.
This could be a golden opportunity for Gholston or it could be a horrific experience for the Jets. We'll see during the pre-season if Gholston is ready to start. If he struggles in August, uh-oh.
2. Starting opposite Cotchery is...
One of the biggest holes during the off-season for the Jets was at wide receiver and the Jets did nothing to fill it. Instead, they remained confident that one of their own will start opposite Jerricho Cotchery in September.
Three players will fight for the No. 2 wide receiver job in training camp. The speedy Chansi Stuckey, who scored four times last season, might be the favorite to win the job.
David Clowney looked good despite only having one NFL catch. Brad Smith has the most experience on the team, but lacks the skills to be a complete receiver in the NFL. Either way, it should make for an interesting August.
1. Mark Sanchez vs. Kellen Clemens
Ever since draft day, it began: Sanchez vs. Clemens. Most Jets fans want the rookie Sanchez to start immediately, but Kellen Clemens, a second-round pick from 2006, will be put up a strong fight that will last most of August in preseason games and training camp.
NFL fans across the league are excited to watch this competition. Personally, I'd go with Sanchez, but either way, this position battle will be the highlight for the Jets during training camp. Hopefully, the better man will win and be our starting quarterback.