1. Who will be the starting Quarterback week 1?
The biggest question mark surrounding the Jets is who will be the starting quarterback week 1? The New York Jets have had Mark Sanchez start under center the past 4 seasons. However, after drafting Geno Smith in the second round this year, is it time for the Jets to move past the ‘Sanchize’ era?
Sanchez and Smith will battle all through training camp for the starting position. Whoever shows they can protect the ball better will most likely get the job. The New York Jets threw 19 interceptions last year, tied for 4th-most in the league. You can expect the decision to be made sometime during the preseason games. Whoever starts the third preseason game will most likely be the starter opening day.
2. Who will emerge as the go-to-play maker on the offensive side of the ball?
Despite the struggles from Mark Sanchez last season, the Jets offensive skills position were awful! Santonio Holmes’ status for week 1 is up in the air coming off season ending surgery last season. Last year’s 2nd round pick Stephen Hill did not play well last season and was constantly battling injury. Joe McKnight has showed flashes but lacks consistency. The trade to acquire running back Chris Ivory from the New Orleans Saints seems like a great transaction for the Jets, but Ivory has never been an every down back. Ivory worked in a rotation in New Orleans and has never been the go-to-guy. Jeremy Kerley was the most consistent skill player last year for the Jets but he did struggle at times. The Jets are hoping Kellen Winslow Jr. can replace Dustin Keller and have an immediate impact at tight end. The Jets only had 6 touchdown receptions total by wide receivers last season. Bottom line, the Jets will need to get better play from their skill players in order for either quarterback to succeed.
3. Will the young defensive players continue to progress?
The New York Jets last 5 first round draft picks have been on defensive players. Kyle Wilson (2010), Muhammad Wilkerson (2011), Quinton Coples (2012), Dee Milliner (2013), Sheldon Richardson (2013). With many veterans moving on it is up to these young players to lead the defense and progress into solid players. Kyle Wilson who has only 3 interceptions in 3 years will need to play better this year or he may see his career with the Jets come to an end next off-season. Wilkerson had only 5 sacks a year ago and will definitely need to improve upon that number. Coples in his rookie year tallied 5.5 sacks and started to play better as the year went on. 3.5 of his sacks were in the last 4 games of the season. The addition of Sheldon Richardson at defensive tackle will help the Jets improve their interior defensive front. Richardson must play well enough to demand a double team on the inside so that Coples and Wilkerson will have an easier time of getting to the quarterback. The combination of these 3 young defensive players in the front 7, should help the Jets improve on the 30 sacks they had last season which was 6th worst in the NFL. The addition of Dee Milliner will ease the loss of pro bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis and help create more then the 11 interceptions the Jets had last season. The young defensive talent the Jets have invested in will need to progress in order for the Jets to have any chance of competing for the AFC East title.