The New York Jets are currently built on a heavily veteran nucleus. Aging players like Brandon Marshall, Darrelle Revis, and David Harris make up the strength of the Jets roster. There will be no controversy at these players’ respective positions. The same cannot be said for the rest of the depth chart. Many spots in the Jets starting lineup remain up in the air. Here are some of the most intriguing New York Jets position battles.
Intriguing New York Jets Position Battles
Third Wide Receiver
Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker combine to form one of the most effective receiving duos in the NFL. Their height and physicality make each one a redzone mismatch. This made up greatly last season for the lack of an effective tight end in the Jets lineup. The return of Jace Amaro may allow them to more widely incorporate the tight end position into future game plans.
However, a true complement to Decker and Marshall has yet to emerge. Sophomore receiver Devin Smith was drafted in the second round of last year’s NFL Draft. While there was hope he would provide a vertical threat to the Jets offense, drops and injuries plagued his rookie year. This opened the door for Quincy Enunwa to step into the spotlight. His style of play is more similar to that of Marshall and Decker and there has been talk of whether a move to tight end may benefit both Enunwa and the organization. Even so, Enunwa was far more effective in the number three role than Devin Smith.
Chris Owusu, Kenbrell Thompkins, and rookie Charone Peak are also in the running, but neither has shown the effectiveness or upside of Enunwa or Smith. Enunwa will likely see more snaps come game time, while Smith will assume a strict deep threat role until his game improves.
Linebacker has been one of the strong points of recent Jets defenses. Losing Calvin Pace, Bart Scott, and Demario Davis over the years has caused the linebacking corps to become a weakness on this side of the football. Centerpiece David Harris remains with some very unfamiliar faces playing next to him.
Ohio State rookie Darron Lee will likely have to battle Erin Henderson for playing time as the second middle linebacker. Lee is coming from an outside linebacking role in which he saw a lot of coverage scenarios. Davis struggled mightily in coverage last season and Lee’s speed will be quickly utilized.
Henderson stepped in after Davis’ struggles became apparent and took more playing time from him as time went on. Henderson should continue to play a large number of snaps early in the season. With development, and on clear passing downs, Darron Lee should see his role increase as the 2016 season goes on.
No position has as much uncertainty as quarterback for the Jets. While there will be a battle between former starter Geno Smith and young prospects Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg, the front runner to start is not on the roster. Ryan Fitzpatrick has yet to re-sign with the Jets after his career year. Fitzpatrick would almost certainly be named starter if he’s back.
Smith would be the clear frontrunner in the event that the Jets and Fitzpatrick are unable to agree on a deal. Smith has had ample turnover troubles in the past and many doubt his ability to lead a team in win-now mode. Petty was underwhelming in camp and preseason last year and is likely a backup at best. Hackenberg is a wild card and could provide for an interesting headline if he begins to turn heads in camp. Until it is otherwise certain, the hope is to retain the services of Fitzpatrick.