Q: What do you think the Jets record will be this year?
EA: Damn. So many variables involved here. We don't even know who the starting quarterback is, so this is a difficult question. I think the Jets will field a better team than 2012, but that doesn't necessarily mean that their record will improve.
If they are .500 or better by the bye, then I see no reason why this club can't be in contention come December. They close with three of five — Miami, Oakland and Cleveland — at home and visit the Dolphins and the Carolina Panthers. (The Panthers could be trouble for folks this year, though, with that linebacking corps that includes the ridiculously talented Luke Kuechly. Oh my, that guy is a human highlight film.)
Things could get dicey if the Green & White struggle early. That first quarter is manageable, but Weeks 5-9 — @ ATL, vs. PIT, vs. NE, @ CIN and vs. NO — is going to be the ultimate test.
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg is a proven play-caller and it's been fun to watch him mix in personnel and change formations. No matter who plays quarterback, this offense is poised to make a jump because the offensive line is solid and the skill groups are better than most people think. Santonio Holmes is the wild card in this whole deal. People are easy to forget what a dynamic performer No. 10 is and watch out if Tone is lining up at the Z for Mornhinweg.
Defensively, you have to be excited about the front while crossing your fingers for a speedy Quinton Coples return to action. This is a big year for Demario Davis at inside 'backer and teams are going to attempt to attack the secondary. While Antonio Cromartie is a stud, rookie Dee Milliner has to get up to speed in a hurry. And Dawan Landry will be working with an inexperienced — yet talented — partner in Antonio Allen or Jaiquawn Jarrett. There is impressive talent especially up front (Sheldon Richardson is the real deal and Big Mo is a force), but this is a young group with new starters all over the place.
The kicking game will be solid and one of the overlooked keys for a team in transition like this is stealing a game or two on special teams. This squad has to win field position battles and avoid those special teams miscues they had last year. It will be fun to watch Ben Kotwica as he has taken the reins from the legendary Mike Westhoff.
If the bounces are going the way of New York's AFC representative, a 10-win campaign wouldn't be crazy. But if Murphy's Law strikes, they could fail to equal last year's win total.
Do you think if Bilal Powell keeps his level of play up that he will have a shot to start at RB week 1?
EA: Powell has earned his spot at the top of the depth chart. He has had a fabulous summer, ripping off long gainers in the run game and flashing his versatility in the Wildcat. He is a powerful blocker and a nice target out of the backfield. The third-year back, a Louisville product, will get plenty of touches as will battering ram Chris Ivory. Mike Goodson is the fastest player on this roster and his wheels will give the team a turbo boost in Week 5.
Don't get caught up with the term "starter" for the backs. Powell and Ivory figure to be plenty in busy in 2013.
Q: Will Zach Rogers make the 53?
EA:Rogers is a good player and he has flashed at times this summer. He works the underneath routes well and he has really good football instincts. But the Jets have some interesting players at the position right now and there are going to be tough decisions here the next week or so.
If Holmes is ready to roll Week 1, your top four is set with Tone, Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley and Clyde Gates. Depending on whether New York's AFC representative keeps five or six, that would leave Ben Obomanu, Ryan Spadola, Mohamed Massaquoi and a number of young players — including Rogers — battling for one or two spots. Mark CappiellLittle Ferry, NJ
Q: If it's a true competition, then why do we hear about only two of the QBs on the roster? Simms seemed more poised on the field than Smith. Sanchez has a history of turnovers going back to USC. Where has McElroy been?
EA:Back in training camp, Rex Ryan stated that Greg McElroy and Matt Simms were competing for the No. 3 job.* *You are going to hear more about both Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith because they are the two passers competing for the No. 1 position.
Both McElroy, who was held out of the second preseason game with an ankle injury, and Simms have impressed. But there are only so many reps to go around and let's see the QB rotation Thursday night.
"I feel confident in Simms because I'll tell you what — he's earned respect and everything else," Ryan said Monday. "Greg McElroy, here's a guy, the thing about Greg is he thinks he's the smartest guy in the building because he is. Obviously, I feel good about those guys." Robert WhitcraftPhiladelphia, PA
1. Please find more about Matt Simms. 2. Matt Simms has a really strong arm! You never know. 3. Maybe Matt Simms could have potential as a future QB with the Jets! 4. Don't let Matt Simms go before you really find out what Matt Simms could be…Matt SarliiMonroe, CT
After watching all of the Jets preseason games, I truly like what Matt Simms has done. Do you believe that the Jets should give Simms a start and mix him in as a potential starter?
EA:The most popular players in professional sports are the backup quarterback in football and the backup goalie in hockey. Simms has played well this preseason, hitting on 73% of his attempts with that late TD strike to Spadola.
Dennis CaplickiQ: Uneven? You could not have seen the game. You don't even deserve to write a blog/column.EA: You weren't a fan of my blog on Geno Smith? The definition of uneven is not level or smooth. No apologies here. Thanks, Dennis, for the kind words.
Gilbert WhitmanNY, NYQ: "Uneven Start?" Your an IDIOT.
EA: Did you forget something, Gilbert? Perhaps you meant to write "You're an idiot." Loving this mailbag more and more.