The New York Jets open training camp on Wednesday from Cortland. Rex Ryan’s bunch is looking to build upon an 8-8 finish to 2013, good for 2nd place in the AFC East. It’s time to take a look now at the top 5 non-QB training camp questions for the Jets.
5. Chris Johnson still CJ2K?
One of the more high profile signing the Jets made over the offseason was bringing in Chris Johnson from the Tennessee Titans. All the talk surrounding the former 2,000 yard back has been positive. Johnson has said he’s still capable of returning to 2k status, he can beat Michael Vick in a race, and his new Jets teammates are expecting a lot out of him. While all the talk and hype has sounded good, Johnson will turn 29 on September 23rd, and he’s had recurring knee problems. His 2,006 yard 2009 rushing season feels like a distant memory at this point, he averaged a career low 3.9 yards per carry last season, and his longest run was just 30 yards. Conventional wisdom would tell you that Johnson is trending backwards, but if he can turn back the clock with the Jets, Gang Green will have a potential home-run threat every time he touches the ball.
4. How much of an impact will Jace Amaro have?
Entering the 2014 NFL Draft, the tight end position was arguably the biggest need on the team, so GM John Idzik drafted Jace Amaro in the 2nd round. Last season at Texas Tech, Amaro caught 106 passes for an FBS tight end record of 1,352 yards to go along with 7 touchdowns. Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow Jr. weren’t exactly game breakers in 2013 ranking 28th and 29th in receiving yards for tight ends. Amaro has the chance to turn the tight end position for the Jets from below average, to pretty good. He was arguably the best tight end in the draft and can be the play-making tight end the Jets haven’t had in many, many years.
3. Who will be the number 2 receiver?
When John Idzik went out and signed Eric Decker to a 5-year $36.5 million dollar contract, he became the number 1 receiver on the Jets depth chart. Throwing his inflated Peyton Manning numbers aside, Decker is without a doubt the most talented receiver on the team. It’s who steps up alongside him that is the major question. David Nelson could be the guy, but if he’s your number 2 receiver, that’s a problem. Nelson is a possession guy incapable of stretching the field. He went un-drafted in the 2010 NFL draft and he fits more as a 4 or 5 receiver than a number 2. The Jets also have Jeremy Kerley who fits best in the slot, Stephen Hill who’s entering training camp with his career in jeopardy, Jacoby Ford, and rookie Jalen Saunders. Hill showing he belongs in the NFL with a strong camp performance would be huge, but all bets point to Nelson being the guy.
2. How will Breno Giacomini fair at replacing Austin Howard at right tackle?
Quietly, Austin Howard became a very solid right tackle for the Jets. Unlike Wayne Hunter before him, the media didn’t pay much attention to Howard because he wasn’t allowing a sack on every other play. Howard though played to well, the Raiders signed him to a 5-year $30 million dollar contract leaving a gaping hole at right tackle. In response, the Jets brought in Breno Giacomini from the Seahawks on a 4-year $18 million dollar deal. Giacomini is a physical blocker, but is no sure thing at right tackle either. I guess we’ll just have to trust John Idzik on this one who watches Giacomini for years in Seattle, but if the Giacomini experiment fails, the Jets will be in big trouble.
1. Will Dee Milliner emerge as a number 1 corner?
Since Rex Ryan took over as head coach of the Jets prior to the 2009 season, he has never been more critical of a player than he has been recently of Dee Milliner. He entered OTA’s out of shape after a disappointing rookie season, and Ryan just yesterday questioned Milliner’s desire to be a pro bowl caliber player. Milliner has all the talent and physical tools to be great, and with the Jets passing up the chance to bring back Antonio Cromartie, it’s going to be up to Dee to shut down opposing number 1 receivers. On the docket for this season is Brandon Marshall, Calvin Johnson, and Demaryius Thomas, among others. The Jets are counting on Milliner to be great, and if he isn’t, opposing teams will have a field day beating the Jets through the air.