The week of July 4 is here and Jets football is around the corner. In two weeks, the operations staff will start the move to Cortland and players will report to camp on July 25. Then the Green & White will have four consecutive days of practice from Friday, July 26 — Monday, July 29, and away we go.
But let's get to a number of topics that are on my mind...
Terry Hoobler Birmingham, AL Q:Geno seems to have a bit of an exaggerated motion. He goes back flat and then raises the ball. Does that concern anybody?
EA:I don't see any issue with Smith's delivery. In fact, I see the rookie as having the ability to throw at multiple arm angles and that is a positive. If your release point never changes, that makes it an easier job for defensive linemen and blitzers to knock the ball down.
The trademark of Smith in college was he didn't force passes when pressured, so that limited turnovers. I would anticipate him playing quicker at SUNY Cortland, speeding up with the reads and the progressions.
Jamie Bryant New Sharon, MA Q: (Sione) Pouha is a huge loss not only on the field, but in the locker room. If healthy, K. Ellis impresses me and I think has Pro Bowl potential. What are your thoughts?
EA: Not ready to go that far on Ellis. A project coming out Hampton, Ellis saw his playing time increase in Year 2 as he appeared in 12 games. But a knee injury hampered his progress and Ellis knows he has to stay available. The addition of Antonio Garay was a solid transaction and his presence should motivate Ellis. After a couple of years in the league, Ellis could break out because he has a better understanding of blocking schemes and offensive tendencies. His raw athleticism and footwork have always been impressive.
Paul Newbold Queens, NY Q:I read your comments about "camp battles." Interesting piece. You didn't mention RB on offense or LB on defense. Curious to know how those competitions will shake out. Any thoughts?
EA:Unless you have Adrian Peterson in your backfield, the NFL is all about committee at running back. I like the Jets depth and talent in the backfield. Chris Ivory appears to be a more explosive Shonn Greene bruising type, Mike Goodson is blazing fast and Bilal Powell is a jack of all trades. It will be very interesting to see the reps divided in Cortland and I know Joe McKnight is motivated as well. John Griffin, a UMASS product who has impressed the past two springs and played in the season finale against the Bills, will have to make the most of his time as well.
Linebacker covers a wide spectrum, but the inside appears set. David Harris and Demario Davis will team up in the middle and they should be backed up by Josh Mauga and Nick Bellore. Quinton Coples made the transition to OLB, but he will spend a lot more time rushing than dropping in coverage. Calvin Pace is a savvy vet with a diversified skill-set and remains one of the better run stoppers in the game at his position. Antwan Barnes would figure to see a lot of work in sub packages, bringing his 4.4 speed off the edge. As far as depth at OLB, Ricky Sapp has to extend his solid practice play to gameday. Garrett McIntyre has a tremendous motor and rookie Troy Davis is an interesting pass rushing prospect who hopes to make a push.
Adam Somerset, MA Q:How come the Jets don't have training camp sessions at Hofstra anymore?
EA:The Jets want to host events in both Queens and Long Island, and that remains a priority for the organization. According to the team's current deal with SUNY Cortland, they are locked in to train there for this summer and then there is mutual option in the contract.
Brandon Orange County, CA Q:Would it be possible to see the Jets sign another veteran TE like Dallas Clark?
EA:Don't see that happening at this point. If Kellen Winslow Jr.'s knee holds up, the Green & White have already added a talented veteran to their mix. It is a mild surprise to see Clark still out there on the market as the 34-year-old caught 47 balls with the Bucs last year. If Clark doesn't get a call in August or doesn't like his options, he has indicated he will probably retire.
Jets High Point is .500 or 11-5?
Interesting look at the AFC East byMarc Sessler** on NFL.com. As for the Jets, Sessler believes they'd do well to reach .500.
"The Jets are a mixed bag until they find a quarterback. Darrelle Revis has left the building and the talent void on offense is downright disturbing, but coach Rex Ryan remains one of the NFL's top defensive minds. Planted firmly on the hot seat, Ryan has a chance to up his Q rating if he can steer Gang Green out of the sadness. Those back-to-back AFC title game appearances feel like ancient history, but New York's rebuilt front seven gives the something to build on. If everything goes right, the ceiling is 8-8. If Rex loses the reins, the Jets are a wandering ghost ship by Christmas."
But former Jets CB Ray Mickens, who visited the club in minicamp, sent some shockwaves on twitter when he wrote: "My prediction, Jets win 11 games this year, for all of y'all that sprained ankles last yr jumping off the bandwagon."
My take is the Jets would appear to have a favorable December. If they can get to 6-6 or better by the time the Raiders come to town on Dec. 8, then they could be in contention all the way.
Are the Pats Vulnerable?
Kind of. You typically don't lose that kind of production and field the same ballclub.
WR Wes Welker (118-1354-6TD) and RB/WR Danny Woodhead (76-301-4TD/40-446-3TD) are in Denver and San Diego respectively, WR Brandon Lloyd (74-911-4TD) and TE Aaron Hernandez (51-483-5TD) were released, and TE Rob Gronkowski (55-790-11TD) just had back surgery.
The replacements include WR Danny Amedola, Michael Jenkins & rookie Aaron Dobson and TE Jake Ballard. But Tom Brady is a magician and RB Stevan Ridley (290-1263-12TD) really broke out in his second season. You would imagine that the defense will continue to be a bend but don't break unit that thrives off the takeaway.
But the Pats have claimed nine of the past 10 division championships and they went a perfect a 6-0 inside the AFCE in 2012. They still carry a mystique and I think it will be important for the Jets and the Bills — teams in transition that get the Pats in Week 2 and Week 1 respectively — to attack them out of the gate. If you don't get to the Pats early, they typically run away and hide.
Meanwhile, let's see how the Dolphins handle all their press clippings. A lot of hype down in South Florida for a team that improved themselves this offseason, but won seven games a year ago.