New York Jets – Things to Watch by Ryan Crofts

When they New York Jets open training camp in July they may very well still be without their (preferred) starting Quarterback; a tough spot for a team coming off 10 wins.

Those 10 wins, while a quantum leap forward from the 4-12 record from the prior season, came without a playoff birth.

A year in which a team misses the playoffs is one that disappoints fans, but this scenario involved two losses to a division rival coached by the former Headmaster of One Jets Drive: Rex Ryan.

Not an easy pill to swallow, especially if you were under the belief that Rex should not have been fired, but that is a debate for a different day.

In year two of the Maccagnan-Bowles regime, there will be a few things to watch:

Development of younger players: Bowles did a great job maximizing what he had on defense while using his younger and older parts sparingly. With CB Antonio Cromartie and LB Calvin Pace still unsigned and unlikely to return, the Jets will likely have to rely on younger players n lauding second year LB Lorenzo Mauldin and rookie Linebackers Darron Lee (Ohio State) and Jordan Jenkins (Georgia). Much of the offensive development will fall on the shoulders of Chan Gailey and his positional coaches, and if he has to do battle with Geno Smith under center rather than Fitzpatrick, this situation gets interesting…and not in a positive way.

Roster Space: The Jets have already said that QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will return to his starter role if/when he signs, which is a good thing for the Jets. It also means that they could carry four Quarterbacks, depending on how they view the development of second-year QB Bryce Petty, and Rookie Christian Hackenberg. The bad side of this is if Fitzpatrick does not sign. The only way I see him NOT in Green this season is if another good-defensive team has an injury to a starting QB, and matches the one-year, $12mil offer that Fitz so covets. Again, if the happens, the Jets will carry three Quarterbacks instead of four, however, they also said they could bring in another veteran if Fitz is not there; who knows, as this regime keeps everything pretty close to the vest.

Bowles’ Second Take: So far Todd Bowles has remained level-headed and even-keel through with his players and the media, and this does not seem to change. He seems unwavering and in-command at all times; that is, during a 10-win season. If the Jets start off 1-7, which is a realistic possibility based off the schedule, it will be interesting to see the tune Bowles is singing during pressers, because the one thing the New York Media will do is ask the same questions repeatedly until you want to rip your hair out. It will be interesting to see how Bowles handles the media during a poor season—something he will undoubtedly go through at some point as Head Coach of a team who has not been to the Super Bowl since 1973.

Offensive Line: With the retirement of D’Brickishaw Ferguson, the Jets brought in Ryan Clady from Denver to play Left Tackle. Clay is a former Pro-Bowler and should replace Ferguson admirably if he stays healthy. That last part, is the key to the entire season. If the Jets have health from their Offensive Line, specifically C Nick Mangold, the season will go much smoother.

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