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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Football Is Back (exhibition games!)

The football exhibition season is something that we can’t wait for it to start; then in three weeks we can’t wait for it to end. For the Jets, the exhibition season starts tomorrow (Thursday) night against the Jacksonville Jaguars (7:30 CBS). In exhibition football we are more concerned with individual performances than the final score. What should Jet fans watch for?
1)    Expect Ryan Fitzpatrick to appear a little off stride. Even though he signed the night before training camp opened, he missed the OTA’s and his timing may look a little off. Not to worry Jet fans, Fitz will be fine.
2)    I’m concerned about the offensive line. I’m always concerned about my team’s offensive line. In baseball they say you can never have enough pitching. In football I say you can never have enough good offensive lineman. Nick Mangold has lost a step. Tackle Ryan Clady (#78) is an “All Everything” tackle and a good pick up but injuries are a huge issue and as the grind of the season goes on, we will have to keep a close eye on him.
3)    Running back is becoming an issue. Matt Forte is nicked up and I am disappointed that Khiry Robinson (#31) coming off a broken leg injury, doesn’t seem ready yet for the weekly pounding but keep an eye on him when and if he gets on the field. Bilal Powell looked quicker than usual at the end of last season. We want a back like him who can also catch passes out of the backfield on our team.
4)    With the receivers, let’s see if the chemistry Fitz developed will continue. I’m excited to see if Quincy Enunwa will continue to improve. Jalin Marshall (#89) has been lighting it up in training camp so we’ll watch him. Devin Smith, and tight ends Jace Amaro and Zack Sudfeld are all coming off injuries. Smith is on the PUP list (Physically Unable to Perform) but let’s see if Fitz can do something he hasn’t done as a Jet, look for an open tight end to pass to.
5)    Muhammad Wilkerson just came off the PUP list. Keep an eye on #99 Steve Mclendon. He is the former Steeler interior lineman we picked up. In his position the number of tackles and sacks are a meaningless stat, he has to clog the middle and not get pushed back. Let’s watch #50 Darron Lee, our first round pick playing linebacker. He is quick but a little light so watch if he can maintain his ground when he tackles and doen’t get pushed back an extra 2-3 yards after contact. Fellow linebacker, 3rd round draft pick Jordan Jenkins (#48) has been turning heads and there is talk that he has a chance to start.
6)    I’m very comfortable with our secondary. Revis’ wrist looks to be healed. Marcus Williams takes over at the other DB position and Calvin Pryor played well last year and learned to play under control.
7)    Let’s watch and see if new punter Lachlin Edwards can do the job.

Other names to keep an eye on Thursday night:
Kicker Ross Martin #8 (not from the Wild Wild West) competing with Nick Folk.
WR Charone Peake #17 rookie from Clemson. Could be a 7th round steal.
DE Leonard Williams #92. Let’s see if he can continue his improvement.
LB Lorenzo Mauldin #55. We need more penetration from this 2nd year player.
QB Bryce Petty #9. I’m not sure how long he’ll be a Jet. He has got to show something in pre-season.
QB Christian Hackenberg. I’m just as curious as everyone else with this guy. Hope he plays!


What the Jet scribes are saying:

Rich Cimini, ESPN

General manager Mike Maccagnan, who once considered a career on Wall Street, showed last season that he has the ability to identify undervalued stocks. His trades for Brandon Marshall and Ryan Fitzpatrick cost him only two late-round draft picks, and the payoff was huge. Those moves changed the New York Jets’ season.

He might have done it again with Ryan Clady. Because he's an offensive lineman, Clady won't grab as much attention as Marshall and Fitzpatrick, but he will be vital to the Jets' chances in 2016. It's still early, of course, but this has the look of another winning trade.

The Jets hope Ryan Clady can return to the Pro Bowl form he displayed during his time in Denver. Capitalizing on an unusual left-tackle situation in Denver, Maccagnan bought low and landed a player with a Pro Bowl pedigree. He got Clady on the cheap because of his injury history -- Clady missed last season because of knee surgery -- but the lineman has shown no residual ill effects. He's taking the vast majority of the practice reps, perhaps more than any other starter on the offensive line.

This could be a new version of the Marshall trade. The Jets gave up a fifth-round pick, receiving a seventh-rounder and a highly motivated, elite player looking to recapture his previous form. Clady's last three injury-free seasons (2011, 2012 and 2014) all culminated with a Pro Bowl selection.

Brian Costello, NY Post

The Jets had been done practicing for about 30 minutes, but two individuals remained on the practice field, going through play after play in the hot afternoon sun.

Quarterbacks Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg stayed long after practice was over, working on certain things that had not gone right in practice. It seems strange. Two players who may be competing for one spot — future quarterback of this franchise — helping each other out, playing wide receiver for each other and coaching each other up. It is a sign of maturity from Petty, who was drafted just last year in the fourth round, that he is helping Hackenberg, who ultimately could be the reason Petty is cut at some point.

You couldn’t blame Petty if he felt like he was yesterday’s news. When the Jets selected Hackenberg in the second round of this year’s draft, it called into question how they felt about Petty. Were they ready to give up on him already? Did they not like what they saw in his rookie year?

The Jets have said the Hackenberg selection has nothing to do with Petty. They are seriously considering keeping four quarterbacks on their roster this season — Petty and Hackenberg as developmental quarterbacks of the future along with starter Ryan Fitzpatrick and backup Geno Smith, who are about 2016. If a quarterback does get cut, Petty might be the odd man out.

He is not worrying about that at the moment, though. Petty had his best day of training camp Thursday, throwing three touchdowns, including an 80-yarder to Jalin Marshall. That came a day after Petty went 0-for-6 in team drills. Petty benefited from extra reps Thursday with Fitzpatrick getting a day off.

Jets coach Todd Bowles sees signs of that progress.

“He’s getting to be more consistent with the decisions he’s making,” Bowles said.

When the Jets took Hackenberg in April’s draft, Petty said he had a few emotions, but ultimately it brought out the competitor in him.

“There were probably several thoughts that I had in my head, but to me, it was kind of like, ‘OK, let’s strap it up,’ ” he said. “I came in here to prove that they made the right choice in the fourth round last year. I’m still here to do that. That part doesn’t change. Whatever happens in the future happens, but while I’m here, I’m going to be the best quarterback I can be, the best teammate I can be. If that is to help him through the things I learned last year and I’m continuing to learn, that’s what I want to do.”

Manish Mehta, NY Daily News

His immediate future is tied to four meaningless games a little more than a year after his long-term future seemed secure. Bryce Petty is a big boy, so he can handle the realities of a business devoid of loyalty.

His bottom line is the Jets’ bottom line: He must produce in the next four weeks or deal with the consequences. He understands it, accepts it and wants to let everyone know that he's going to make it happen.

The Jets preseason opener against the Jaguars Thursday night will be the most important game in Petty's fledging career… until next week. The former Baylor star quarterback and 2015 fourth-round pick will begin what amounts to a four-game audition to prove that he belongs, a showcase of progress, a reminder to the team's brain trust that cutting him would be a grave mistake.

This weeks newsletter is sponsored by Amazon Prime Instant video and Marty Schupak's sports instructional videos. Always free on Amazon Prime!

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