Random thoughts on the New York Jets first two weeks of training camp…
1 – Injuries are in the headlines again for the New York Jets, namely around the lack of participation so far from projected starting receiver rookie Denzel Mims, newly signed corner Pierre Desir and slot corner Brian Poole. The Jets may be being overly cautious with certain players considering the unique circumstances of this summer but the overall numbers below remain eye opening simply because of what happened last season and how injuries have followed Adam Gase throughout his recent coaching career.
The Jets have 14 injured players as of yesterday. With rosters at 80, that leaves them with 66 healthy bodies (math major). That is a very low number for teams used to operating near 90 in training camp. #nyj
— Brian Costello (@BrianCoz) August 23, 2020
The Jets have somewhat addressed depth at receiver by signing veteran Chris Hogan but another addition may be warranted as Sam Darnold has had too many days throwing to Jeff Smith and Josh Malone. Rookie UDFA Lawrence Cager may be a name to keep an eye on in the coming weeks as it is looking more and more likely he’ll have a pathway to the final roster.
2 – The Jets are going to be heavy on their safety and tight end usage. On defense, look for a good amount of rookie Ashtyn Davis on the field with Marcus Maye and Bradley McDougald to help mitigate the depth concerns at linebacker. On offense, look for a good amount of multiple tight end sets and for the Jets to carry Chris Herndon, Ryan Griffin, Daniel Brown and Trevon Wesco all season to help mitigate the depth concerns at wide receiver.
3 – George Fant is going to be the opening day starter at right tackle, while Chuma Edoga is likely to be a swing backup to him and Mekhi Becton, along with potentially an extra blocker in heavy sets. The Jets tight end usage won’t just be to help cover up for how thin they are at wide receiver, it will help to help support two inexperienced starting tackles.
4 – Quincy Wilson, Blessaun Austin, Nate Hairston and Pierre Desir all seem primed to see major reps on the outside at some point this season. Gregg Williams showed last year he won’t hesitate to shuffle players around at the position and similar to previous years, this feels like it will be another mix and match effort. This group isn’t short on talent, particularly in man coverage but all come with consistency and durability concerns
5 – If healthy, Chris Herndon should spend many weeks as the Jets lead target and receiver. He is the biggest mismatch on the roster in the passing game, particularly after seeing how Gase utilized Le’Veon Bell last season. Herndon has the athleticism and versatility to impact the game from the Y, the H and from any of the wide receiver positions. The Jets are doing their offense a disservice if he isn’t getting at least 5 targets per game and isn’t regularly dialed up in the end zone.
6 – Le’Veon Bell’s usage is going to merit close observation early in the season. Have the Jets reimagined their screen game to better get him in space? How frequently will Frank Gore be spelling him off the bench? Is La’Mical Perine going to see the field with any regularity on offense or will this be more of a red shirt year behind the two veterans? Bell had plenty of touches last year, the Jets just need more of them to be off creative looks in the passing game and less on A gap plunges on 2nd and 10…
7 – The Jets defensive line should be excellent…again. It will be interesting to see how Gregg Williams staggers the rotation of Steve McLendon, Quinnen Williams (the x-factor for the Jets defense in 2020), Foley Fatukasi and Nathan Shepherd. Is there still room for Henry Anderson? It isn’t a deep group of edge rushers so the Jets will be counting on interior pressure…again.
8 – I am fully ready for the Jets to find a way to carry four quarterbacks and not expecting to see Joe Flacco as QB2 until at least week 3 or week 4.
9 – We are regularly joking about the receiver situation but good for Jeff Smith for taking advantage of his extended opportunity so far. It feels like outside of Breshad Perriman and Jamison Crowder, it is going to be rotating door of reps on the outside and until Denzel Mims is healthy and back in the mix, Smith could very well see real time along with the recently signed Hogan.
10 – Similar to cornerback, I am expecting a heavy rotation at inside linebacker alongside Avery Williamson. The Jets are probably going to carry all their depth there (Patrick Onwuasor, Blake Cashman, Neville Hewitt and James Burgess) all season long and regularly be mixing and matching who is playing based on the personnel group or matchup.
11 – Everything sounds and seems good about Sam Darnold but by year three, the only thing that matters is what happens in the regular season and that he stays healthy until week one.
12 – It would be abnormal if there wasn’t any training camp fights, so I wouldn’t think twice about what broke out in Sunday’s full contact practice…