With mini-camp in the rear view mirror it is time to take a look at some of the biggest questions facing the New York Jets as the team prepares for the season.
Will Geno Smith continue to emerge? One of the biggest stories to come out of mini-camp was the performance of quarterback Geno Smith. The second year signal caller displayed a tremendous grasp of the offense while taking on a bit of a leadership role. Smith will reportedly get at least 70% of the first team reps in training camp. Will Geno maximize his opportunity and take ownership of the starting quarterback position?
Milliner ready for the spotlight? Rex Ryan and his defensive staff are expecting big things out of cornerback Dee Milliner in 2014. The second year defensive back will be featured as the team's #1 cover man and will be matched up against some of the best wide receivers in the NFL. Will Dee rise to the challenge as he deals with huge expectations from both the head coach and the fan base?
Will there be a new starting safety duo? Throughout mini-camp Antonio Allen and rookie Calvin Pryor played together as the starting safety tandem. Rex Ryan stated that this pairing was just to get the young safeties more reps, but it is hard to deny the athletic ability that these two players bring to the table. Can Allen and Pryor become a ballhawking, physical duo that Rex Ryan can build his blitz packages around?
Jace ready for Marty ball? The expectations are high for rookie tight end Jace Amaro as many feel that he is the perfect fit for Marty Mornhinweg's offense. Amaro has tremendous size (6'5) and great hands and will be used in a variety of roles in Marty's offense. Will Jace adapt quickly to the speed and physicality of the NFL and become a legitimate threat in the passing game?
Reshuffling of the offensive line? Another big story to come out of mini-camp was the moving of Brian Winters to right guard while veteran Willie Colon was recovering from an injury. Oday Aboushi filled in for Winters at left guard and seemed to play at a quality level. Is Winters' job on the line in training camp? In addition, how will free agent signee Breno Giacomini perform as he replaces right tackle Austin Howard? Will this offensive line become a cohesive unit by September?
Patterson ready to perform? As of now the New York Jets are expecting Dimitri Patterson to play opposite Dee Milliner in the secondary. Patterson, formerly of the Miami Dolphins, has played at a quality level in the past but was hindered by injuries the last couple of years. Will Dimitri remain healthy and flourish in Rex Ryan's defense? If Patterson struggles, will rookie Dexter McDougle or Darrin Walls be able to take his starting spot?
Breakout year for Coples? Entering his third season outside linebacker Quinton Coples appears ready to breakout in Rex Ryan's defense. Coples ended the 2013 campaign with 3.5 sacks in his 5 last games and started to become a legitimate presence rushing from the edge. Will Quinton, who shed approximately 15 pounds this offseason, become the pass rushing threat Ryan has been desperately searching for?
Decker, Kerley, and ? The competition at the wide receiver position will be intense as there will be several players vying for 3 or 4 spots on the roster. In mini-camp the starting trio was Eric Decker, Jeremy Kerley, and David Nelson. Stephen Hill rotated with Nelson while Jalen Saunders, Jacoby Ford, Greg Salas, Shaq Evans, and Clyde Gates competed for second and third team reps. Can Stephen Hill bounce back from a disappointing 2013 season? Will Jacoby Ford's speed and return abilities secure his roster spot? Can a player like Saalim Hakim sneak into the mix?
Running back by committee? One of the New York Jets biggest additions this offseason was running back Chris Johnson. The former Tennessee Titan is a dynamic threat out of the backfield that gives the Jets a much-needed game breaking presence. Now the question is how will Marty Mornhinweg distributes carries between Chris Johnson, Chris Ivory, and either Bilal Powell or Daryl Richardson? Does Mornhinweg feature Johnson as a pass catcher out the backfield while Ivory wears down the defense on the ground? Does Marty ride the "hot hand"? Will there be formations where both Ivory and Johnson are on the field at the same time?
Plenty of questions to be answered
As you can see the New York Jets will be looking to answer several questions as training camp progresses. General Manager John Idzik has done a solid job of adding veteran talent along with young playmakers. Now it is up to Rex Ryan and his staff to coach up these players and put together a starting lineup that will be able to compete for a playoff spot.