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EA Q&A: Wideouts, Winters and QB Battle

Posted Jun 18, 2013

The Jets will report to SUNY Cortland on July 25.  It won't be long now.

Poppa Chulo
Las Vegas, NV
Q: Are the Jets receivers going to be ready for a full season of Jets football? In order for us to have any chance to compete for the Lombardi Trophy, we have to have them step up to the next level of play and stay there all season long.   

EA: In a word, the Jets receivers had an underwhelming minicamp. Rex Ryan was none too happy with the drops and he had every right to be agitated.

So what does it all mean? Well, Santonio Holmes and Clyde Gates are two of the top four wideouts on the depth chart and neither participated in team activities. Tone continues to work his way back from the Lisfranc injury and Gates was slowed by a balky hamstring. The Jets need No. 10, but they also really like Gates. Not just a speed guy, Gates is a hands catcher who runs quality routes. But the 5’11”, 197-pound Gates, a fourth-round pick of the Dolphins in 2011, has to be durable and step up his game this summer.

Jeremy Kerley had at least three or four drops in team periods. But Kerley is a precision route runner with plenty of quickness. He sets up DBs well at the top of routes and is just a smooth operator. I wouldn’t worry a thing about JK and the dude can throw it well from the QB position in the Wildcat. And Kerley also is the Jets primary punt return man.

The Jets need Stephen Hill to make a jump in Year 2, but he was inconsistent at camp. He looked solid in individual drills, but he had a few drops in team and he needs to attack training camp with a relentless attitude. 

It is WAY too early to give up on Hill. Growing pains should have been expected and his ridiculous start against Buffalo in Week 1 created unrealistic expectations. Coming from that triple option attack at Georgia Tech, check out Demaryius Thomas’ career starts.  A first-round pick of the Broncos in 2010, Thomas caught 22 balls his rookie season, 32 his sophomore campaign and then 94 in 2012. Good thing somebody in the Broncos front office didn’t get impatient while Thomas continued to grow.

Credit undrafted rookie Ryan Spadola (Lehigh) for playing through a hamstring injury at camp. He never put the ball on the ground and got open underneath a bunch of times. The 6’3”, 200-pound Spadola has very good size and appears to be a willing blocker.  He will have to show that he is dependable on special teams in August. 

Fellow rookie Zach Rogers, a Tennessee product, also had a few drops overall. But Rogers is a fine route runner and he knows where there is space on the field. Not a burner, Rogers has the quickness to get separation underneath. It will be interesting to see how he progresses when the pads come on because Rogers is slight of frame at 6’0”, 172 pounds.  He looked to be a dependable punt returner, but can he make some plays on coverage as well?

Vidal Hazelton, who attended Moore Catholic HS in Staten Island, NY, might have caught more passes in team situations that anybody at camp. A 6’2”, 209-pounder, Hazelton has good size and that might help him as he attempts to carve out a special teams role.

Veteran Mike Sims-Walker came to camp on a tryout basis. He displayed good hands the final day of camp, but he is not a player who is going to separate much at this point of his career. 

Special teams are a huge part of this evaluation process and that is something a lot of fans just don’t take into account. If Ben Obomanu makes the final roster, it will be because he dominates on teams this summer.

Gregg Morgan
Pittsburgh, PA

Q: Does Brian Winters have a shot at starting the season at left guard?

EA: Winters definitely has a shot at starting, but I think his percentages might be better actually at right guard.

The Jets feel great about former Steeler Willie Colon. If Colon’s body can hold up for 16 games (he finished the past three seasons on injured reserve), the Jets will have a major steal. The Bronx native lined up at LG throughout OTAs and minicamp and that left side of the line looks awfully formidable with Colon beside LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson.

Stephen Peterman, a 31-year-old who has started 90 regular-season games in his career and was most recently with the Lions in Detroit, was the first-team RG in the offseason. I think Winters is going to push Peterman for that spot throughout training camp. The Jets love competition and that will be one we’ll watch up at SUNY Cortland. 

Bob DeMarinis
North Attleboro, MA

Q: It is hard to keep reporting that the Jets don't have a full healthy receiving corps to help the QBs perform well. Do you think the elite QBs in this league depend on All-Pro WRs to be good? If Sanchez starts 1st week, it is more an indictment that Geno isn't ready or good enough. Sanchez wouldn't even be on the team now if it weren't for that contract.

EA: I like reporting good news to Jets Nation, but unfortunately that is not possible all the time.  If you are an elite QB, you are an elite QB. Great targets help the cause (think Atlanta, Denver, Green Bay), but many times in this league you have to throw players open. We have all seen Sanchez play well before and if he excels in camp, then that isn't necessarily an indictment on the rookie. Right now, they are neck and neck. 

"They won’t separate right now," said QB coach David Lee. "We have time, plus I’m very aware with quarterbacks the greatest way to evaluate them is in a ballgame versus out here in shorts."

Joe
Ozone Park, NY

Q: EA, we have heard so much about Sheldon Richardson, but what about Dee Milliner? Will he be a full go by training camp and ready for the season opener?

EA: Milliner, who spent a lot of time on the bike this offseason while recovering from shoulder surgery, expects to be ready to roll by training camp. Rex Ryan believes he has a special talent on his hands and the Green & White will have one of the top CB groups in all of football.

Rob Moore
Fairfax, Virginia
Q: I’m a big fan of Thomas Mayo.  I would like to know if he's looking good for the Jets. And FYI, he is the truth!

EA: Mayo didn’t get many opportunities in team action at camp. A 6’2”, 205-pound first-year player from California (PA), Mayo could benefit from pads in training camp. He is going to have to flash to get an increase of reps.

Eriq Lacks
Brooklyn, NY
Q:
Why haven't the Jets targeted Kerry Rhodes at safety?

EA: The Jets are awfully high on Dawan Landry. He will be the quarterback back there at safety and the team likes its young talent including Josh Bush, Antonio Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett. Bush has very good coverage skills, Jarrett can pack a punch and Allen brings a mix to the table because he is a rangy athlete with a sizeable upside.

Rich B.
Atlanta, GA

Q: How come we don't hear much about Greg McElroy in the QB competition? Has he been weeded out already?

EA: The competition mantra isn’t going away, but you just have to follow the reps. Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez are the only two players receiving the reps with the starting unit. I would say the race for No. 1 is pretty much a dead heat as we head to Cortland. Fascinating stuff by David Lee on Geno by the way that got lost the other day.

"He’s the most interesting guy. When his footwork is good, success follows him like no other quarterback I’ve ever coached. It happens every day," Lee said. "He double hitches on the posts. It makes him late instead of a single hitch. Those things are killing him. We’ve installed so much, so many plays. And then there’s new plays and what’s that footwork."

David Aron
Haifa Israel

Q: Oh my!  Do the Jets have enough cap space to bid on QB Matt Ryan should his contract talks fall through and he hits FA?

EA: Not happening.  

Just like Joe Flacco was never going anywhere. 

Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff told USA Today recently, “We’re not concerned about it. When the time is right, we will consummate a deal.”

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