Ever since Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan were hired as the new head coach and general manager of the Jets, the two have made it their top priority to create as much competition as possible across New York’s roster.
Signings like that of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Stevan Ridley, Buster Skrine and more have all thrust multiple starting positions up in the air. The first practice of training camp Thursday will be the first step in figuring out who exactly will take the field Week 1.
So, of all the spots up for grabs, what are the ‘Top 3’ positional battles set to take place at Jets camp? Jets Insider took the inside look:
Geno Smith vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick
Arguably the post publicized positional battle entering Jets camp is that of the team’s starting quarterback. Who will it be when the team takes the field against the Cleveland Browns to start the season? The highly-criticized Geno Smith, or journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick?
During his short, two-year NFL career, Smith has given Jets fans headaches, to say the leats. The quarterback has thrown 34 interceptions in 30 games, has just a 71.5 quarterback rating and has fumbled 15 times. Fitzpatrick, who is playing on his fourth team in as many years, has been the cliché ‘Game Manager.’ He doesn’t do much to win you games, but doesn’t do much to lose them, either. Last season, in 12 games, Fitzpatrick completed 63.1 percent of his passes and threw for 2,483 yards with 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions as a member of the Houston Texans.
Entering camp, it’ll be Geno receiving the large majority of the first-team reps and he’s considered the favorite to win the job. But if Smith struggles during practices and the preseason, Fitzpatrick could easily be given the No. 1 spot.
Prediction: Ryan Fitzpatrick
This offseason, the Jets came to terms with Seattle Seahawks former first-round pick James Carpenter on a new four-year deal. As soon as Carpenter put pen-to-paper on the new deal, he was thrown atop the depth chart at left guard. At right, however, things are a bit more questionable with veteran Willie Colon and third-year pro Oday Aboushi locked in a battle.
Colon brings experience, knowledge and leadership, but is far from the player he once was during his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers. While he started every game for the Jets at right guard last season, he struggled mightily with discipline, leading to penalties, and blocking. Aboushi, meanwhile, started 10 games for the Jets at left guard and is looking to make the transition to right.
Both Colon and Aboushi dealt with minor injuries during the Jets organized team activities and mini camp practices, but are expected to be healthy for the start of camp. It’ll be quite the battle to watch, too: The old, wily vet looking for another year in the limelight, versus the former fifth-round pick looking to win his first starting spot.
Prediction: Oday Aboushi
No. 4 Cornerback Spot
The Jets secondary was one of the league’s worst last year, allowing the third-most touchdowns and third-highest opponent quarterback rating of any team in the NFL. Making matters worse, the unit intercepted just six passes—tied for the fewest in the NFL.
As a result, GM Mike Maccagnan spent the offseason rebuilding the bruised and battered bunching, signing the likes of Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine in the offseason. The three will take control of the first three spots on the Jets depth chart. The question now is what happens at No. 4.
Former first-round pick Dee Milliner and last year’s third-round pick Dexter McDougle both missed the majority of last season with injuries, but are expected to be healthy come camp. Veteran Darrin Walls started 12 games for the Jets in 2014 and looked serviceable, while Marcus Williams showed promise as an undrafted player picked off the waiver wire from the Houston Texans.
All four have talent. All four have potential. It’s highly unlikely all four will make the team.
Bowles has stated since he was hired that he wants to fill the Jets roster with competiveness, signing players that will force others to pick their game up. There may not be a more competitive position than the No. 4 cornerback spot as all four are quality cornerbacks with starting experience.
Prediction: Dee Milliner, Dexter McDougle, Marcus Williams make roster, Darrin Walls is cut.