Back in the first week of July, Pat Kirwan wrote a season preview for the Jets on CBS Sports and had some interesting questions and thoughts about the team. Here’s two that we thought worth sharing here:
First on players who could become big contributors this season …
Third-round offensive guard Brian Winters can play guard or tackle and he will find a way to get on the field as a rookie. Josh Bush and Antonio Allen were drafted last year in the sixth and seventh rounds and both could find their way on to the field by the start of the season. Garay sits behind Kenrick Ellis on the depth chart at nose tackle, though Ellis has four career starts, 16 tackles and no sacks. In the last three years Garay has 28 starts, 81 tackles and nine sacks.
Winters is a likely player to jump into the starting rotation this summer, likely between Brick and Nick while the Jets put Willie Colon at the right guard spot. There seems to be a lot of conflicting thoughts on who will be the starter next to Dawan Landry, but I think it comes down to whoever can fill in the role with the least mistakes. The Jets were starting Allen at strong safety during the spring, because of the two he’s got the better athleticism, but if he can’t pick up the calls, might he his job to lose. As far as Garay, he’s going to have a big sub package role in helping amp up the Jets pass rush. Between Garay, Wilkerson, Richardson and Coples, the defensive line should be able to generate a lot more pressure up front than just a year ago.
Then, of course there is talk about the quarterback spot, and even a former front office man like Kirwan isn’t immune to letting the schedule help him call the shots
Don’t be surprised if Sanchez is the starting QB to open the season and as soon as he throws his first interception the cries for Smith will be so loud that the rookie winds up on the field. There’s a five-week stretch in the middle of the season when the Jets play Atlanta, Pittsburgh, New England, Cincinnati and New Orleans. I might wait until that part of the schedule is over before Geno Smith takes the field.
There’s a calculated ruthlessness to it. Let Sanchez to be the one to face the buzzsaw, while the Jets reserve their young starter for the stretch of games that comes after. You have to imagine that the thought has occurred to those that run the team if it has occurred to us. If Sanchez can prove his value in those games and win some, then all the better. But if Smith shows enough progress this summer to earn the right to start Week One, then let him learn what the toughest opponents in the league look like in his first year.