Jets training camp primer: QB intrigue will spill into season prep
At long last, the Ryan Fitzpatrick drama is over, but that won't take any attention away from Jets camp. He earned his one-year $12 million deal on the eve of training camp with a solid 2015—31 TDs against 15 interceptions—and the Jets feel that despite the long wait this off-season, he's still their best option. With Geno Smith, Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty fighting for the rest of the snaps, they are likely right. Still, after dragging out this contract standoff, Fitzpatrick will be under pressure to deliver.
The Rookie: Sure, Christian Hackenberg is the draft pick everyone was talking about, but third-round pick Jordan Jenkins is the rookie who has a very good chance at starting this year. With Calvin Pace and Quinton Coples gone, the Jets have a real need at outside linebacker, and they’re going to have to rely on inexperienced youngsters to fulfill it. Lorenzo Mauldin will transition into a much bigger role this season, and as long as Jenkins has an impressive summer, he should rotate in regularly—and perhaps even start as the SAM LB.
Position Battle Spoiler: Buster Skrine vs. Marcus Williams (vs. Dee Milliner)(CB): Antonio Cromartie is gone, and his outside cornerback spot is open. Buster Skrine played almost all of last year in the slot, but has experience outside from his time in Cleveland. The versatile Marcus Williams emerged as an effective presence last season, with a team-leading six picks (Darrelle Revis had five). Skrine will almost certainly get this spot and drop back into the slot when the Jets run the nickel, while Williams will be the third starter. The more interesting piece of this battle is Dee Milliner. Could the embattled first-round pick, whose fifth-year option was declined earlier this year, earn a starting spot and put a jolt into his injury-plagued career? It’s a long shot, but if ever there was a time for Milliner to perform, it’s now.
The Stat: Two numbers for you: 0, the number of games the now-retired D’Brickashaw Ferguson missed in his 10-year career with the Jets, and 18, the number of games his replacement Ryan Clady has started in the last three seasons combined. Clady is a former Pro Bowler whose presence will be huge in New York … as long as he can stay healthy. Stability is something the Jets have always been able to rely on at left tackle, and now, with new running back Matt Forte and a shaky quarterback situation, they need it more than ever.
Preseason Watchability Guide: Revis vs. Odell Beckham Jr. is a must-see matchup regardless of the time of year, and they’ll meet (if only briefly) when the Jets and Giants play on Aug. 27.