Behind Enemy Lines: New York Jets

The Giants Beat's Josh Fyffe goes behind enemy lines to interview Jets reporter Chris Nimbley to ask five burning questions about Gang Green.

Josh Fyffe | TheGiantsBeat.com
1) The Jets have a host of diverse and talented running backs, all of which have started in an NFL game. Between the likes of Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, Zac Stacy, Daryl Richardson and Steven Ridley (when he returns from the PUP list), who do you see usurping the lead back role? Or has the team been using a committee approach?
Chris Nimbley | Jets ReporterI expect Ivory to be the lead back. He won’t see 20-25 carries a game but he will certainly handle the bulk of the work at running back. He is quicker and shiftier than people give him credit for and is by far the best, and most dangerous, back on the roster and it does seem that he has improved his catching ability. He worked hard on his hands all offseason and from what we’ve seen in camp it has definitely helped. Powell will be the third-down back. He’s the one back on the roster that isn’t just a downhill, power runner and also the best receiver/pass protector of the bunch. I don’t expect Richardson to make the final roster and whether Stacy does will depend on Ridley’d health. If Ridley is ready to play on opening day Stacy will likely be cut, if Ridley isn’t quite healthy Stacy will have a job until Ridley is healthy.

Josh Fyffe | TheGiantsBeat.com
2) The Jets have the best wide receiving corps they’ve had in years with the additions of Brandon Marshall via Chicago and Devin Smith through the draft. Have both of the new arrivals looked comfortable in camp and preseason thus far, and where does Jeremy Kerley fit on depth chart in comparison to both of them?

Chris Nimbley | Jets Reporter
Marshall has looked great all camp. He makes everything look so easy it’s ridiculous. His crisp route-running, strong hands and insane catch radius have been on full display throughout camp. We’ll be talking about the quarterbacks late but whoever the quarterback is will love having Marshall at their disposal.Smith was looking great right up until the second he broke his ribs in practice. Literally right up to the second because he broke his ribs as he hit the ground while making a phenomenal one-handed catch. He returned to practice yesterday, only taking part in positional drills but he looked like he was well on his way back to being able to play, maybe even by the first game against the Browns. When Smith does get healthy enough to return he will be the third receiver on the depth chart. Smith is the perfect compliment to Marshall and Eric Decker as his deep-threat ability will force defenses to stretch deep and open things up for Marshall and Decker. It also allows the Jets to use Smith in the slot or line him up outside and take advantage of Marshall or Decker in the slot. After that it gets tricky because one would think Kerley would be next in line but that hasn’t been how it’s played out so far in camp. Chris Owusu got the first shot as the third receiver when Smith went down and he was well on his way to keeping it until he suffered a concussion. Owusu is back and healthy now and has continued his strong camp but when he was out it was Quincy Enunwa getting the first-team reps over Kerley. The Jets love Enunwa’s blocking ability in the run game and have been impressed by the growth in his game as he has had a really solid camp. 

Josh Fyffe | TheGiantsBeat.com
3) The Gang Green secondary took monster steps forward from an injury ridden season a year ago to landing Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and even Buster Skrine in the offseason. Have they made a noticeable impact already from a season ago and has Revis mentored or formed a relationship with starting safety and former first round pick Calvin Pryor?

Chris Nimbley | Jets Reporter
The difference between last year’s secondary and this year’s secondary is impossible to miss. Even if you’re looking elsewhere the secondary will immediately remind you it deserves all your attention and that’s even with Cromartie getting burned constantly. Revis has looked as good as ever and the battles between him and Marshall have been particularly fun to watch. Skrine has had a good camp and as the nickel corner he is a perfect fit for Todd Bowles, physical, aggressive defense. Bowles puts a lot of pressure on his secondary, having them make the defensive calls instead of the linebackers, but he certainly has the players to trust with that responsibility. Revis has been mentoring all the young guys in the secondary and they have all raved about how helpful he has been but he’s definitely focused more of his mentoring on the young corners like Dexter McDougle, Marcus Williams and Dee Milliner and let veteran safety Marcus Gilchrist help bring Pryor along.Williams and McDougle have both had excellent camps so not only are the Jets extremely top heavy at corner but they are also quite deep and if Cromartie struggles in season Bowles has quality options to replace him.

Josh Fyffe | TheGiantsBeat.com
4) The Jets landed arguably the most talented player in the draft at 6th overall by taking Leonard Williams. He joins an established d-line that already boasts Muhammed Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson; has Williams been getting a lot of first team reps or is he being used rotationally at this point into his career? And should fans expect the three of them to be on the field together often this season?
Chris Nimbley | Jets Reporter
Williams was getting first-team reps from the start of camp because of Richardson’s four-game suspension. Bowles temporarily demoted Richardson since the suspension was handed down. Richardson has seen some first-team reps throughout camp but he’s most been running with the twos and will continue to do so until his suspension is over but the second his suspension is over he will be back to getting first-team reps.When Richardson returns and assuming all three are healthy Williams will be a part of the rotation but based on his play the past few weeks he will be rotated in a lot. I’d definitely expect to see all three of them on the field at times, they can all play anywhere along the line and while Bowles runs a base 3-4 he will absolutely use a 4-3 front at times. Williams just gives Bowles another disruptive player to use in multiple ways to give the opposing offensive line fits.

Josh Fyffe | TheGiantsBeat.com
5) A lot has been in the tabloids over Geno Smith’s injury; how is he coming in his recovery process? And how is his replacement, NFL journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick molding into the Jets’ offense and O-coordinator Chan Gailey’s system?

Chris Nimbley | Jets Reporter
Smith returned to join his team at practice this week. He’s only been cleared for light running so far so he still has a few weeks before he’ll be ready to play and will likely miss the first game or two of the season. The journeyman Fitzpatrick has looked exactly like a journeyman quarterback. He is exactly what he has always been, he has flashes of good but doesn’t have the arm-strength to make all the throws and stretch the defense and contrary to popular belief he tends to make a bunch of bad decisions as well as bad throws.I know I’m in the minority because it’s just not cool to think Smith isn’t the worst quarterback ever but the Jets offense needs Smith to be as good as possible. Smith was having a great camp, making much better reads and vastly improved his decision-making. Smith clearly has struggled throughout his first two years but he has the arm talent to make all the throws and take advantage of this receiver group (which is also the first time he will have ever had an array of weapons to work with). Yes, he needs to limit the turnovers but again Fitzpatrick turns the ball over much more than his reputation would suggest. 

Josh Fyffe | TheGiantsBeat.com
6) This one is optional; Who do you feel took the biggest steps forward in their game from a season ago or has exceeded expectations thus far into the preseason?

Chris Nimbley | Jets ReporterOutside linebacker Trevor Reilly. During mini-camps I thought there was zero chance Reilly would make the roster, he was good on special teams last season but he never showed any real signs of being anything more. Now Reilly is a virtual lock to make the final 53 and with Quinton Coples, Calvin Pace and the rookie Lorenzo Mauldin (who had a very impressive camp) in that outside linebacker group it’s impressive that Reilly has been able to make the strides he has made.Every area of his game has improved, his run defense, pass-rush, block shedding. All of it. He has leaned on the coaching staff and really obsessively studied his game, and other veterans, to find out how to best maximize his ability and it has constantly shown up in camp and the preseason. There are a lot of young players who have shown improvement over the offseason and some that you’re likely to hear about come the season but no one has made as big of a leap as Reilly.

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