New York Jets training camp will have its soft launch on Tuesday as the team’s impressive rookie class returns to Florham Park, New Jersey.
While veterans won’t arrive for a few more days, the Jets are going to be counting on their young players more than most teams this season. Getting those young players into camp early is an ideal launching point for Robert Saleh’s second year on the job.
The power-packed rookie class, which includes three first-round picks, is among the notable storylines to monitor during the summer workouts in North Jersey.
5 storylines to monitor at New York Jets training camp
The Jets are coming off a 4-13 campaign. The first year of the Saleh era featured more valleys than peaks as the squad struggled out of the gate and failed to find a spark with rookie Zach Wilson battling inconsistency throughout the year.
Now, with a year of experience at head coach and quarterback, Saleh and Wilson will be expected to turn the tide and progress from their modest initial returns. GM Joe Douglas, on paper, has put together a much-improved roster around Wilson and Saleh, so the hope for a major spike in success has percolated within the fan base.
That said, the Jets need to get the most out of their training camp to push through NFL purgatory.
Zach Wilson’s Year 2 growth
Wilson has gained some muscle and social media popularity over the past few months, but neither of those improvements will help the Jets if he can’t enhance his passing accuracy. Last season, Wilson’s accuracy was all over the place. He completed just 55.6% of his passes as a rookie and threw 11 interceptions compared to nine touchdowns.
Pro Football Network attended one of the Jets’ open OTA workouts in June. During the session, Wilson had an up-and-down performance, missing his first four targets before settling in and getting into rhythm during the non-contact workout. Reports from the other workouts echoed the inconsistency seen in that visit. Still, OTAs aren’t a make-or-break assignment for a QB.
Wilson needs to improve his completion percentage well into the 60s this season. He also needs to protect the ball better and improve his TD-to-INT ratio. He will get plenty of opportunities to build chemistry with his weapons in camp and will be tested by the Jets’ new and improved defense on a daily basis.
Three first-round picks need to get off to fast start
Douglas was aggressive on Day 1 of the NFL draft, selecting three players while moving up and down the first-round board. He selected cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner with the fourth overall pick and wideout Garrett Wilson with the 10th overall pick. He then traded back into the first round and selected defensive end Jeremiah Johnson with the 26th selection.
The Jets are going to count on that trio to make an immediate impact. Gardner will start at cornerback, while Wilson will become a tandem with second-year wideout Elijah Moore. Johnson will be expected to contribute right away, as the Jets had one of the worst pass-rushing lines in the league last season.
The first-round trio could be the difference between a big jump in the standings and another year of being down in the dumps.
Who will play where on the starting offensive line?
The Mekhi Becton saga continues!
As PFN’s Tony Pauline and several other reporters have noted, the Jets’ front office has been underwhelmed with Becton’s conditioning to this point. While Becton can wear shirts that acknowledge that he will overcome the noise, no attire in the world will prove anything. Beckton simply needs to prove himself on the field to remain the starting left tackle.
The Jets have publicly left the offensive tackle spots open for competition, as they have yet to firmly state that the left tackle job is Becton’s spot. Veteran George Fant has played relatively well on both sides of the line, and he appears to be a favorite of the coaching staff.
Will Becton be able to hold off Fant and keep him on the right side with a strong performance in training camp and the preseason? That’s likely the hope in the Meadowlands.
How will new secondary come together?
The Jets rebuilt their secondary this offseason. Along with selecting Gardner in the first round, the team signed cornerback D.J. Reed and safety Jordan Whitehead in free agency. Those three new pieces will supplement a group of holdovers who left a lot to be desired last season.
While Bryce Hall, Lamarcus Joyner, Ashtyn Davis, and Michael Carter should all have a place in the secondary, they’ll need to battle for playing time opposite the three new starters.
Joyner and Davis are likely to battle for the starting spot opposite Whitehead at safety, while Hall and Carter will look to become the third corner on the depth chart.
How will the running back rotation play out?
Along with selecting three first-round picks, the Jets landed Iowa State running back Breece Hall at the top of the second round. While Michael Carter anchored the backfield last season for the Jets, Hall is likely to supplant him at the top of the totem pole this summer.
Still, behind Hall, the competition is brewing. Carter is likely to be the change-of-pace back, while veterans Tevin Coleman, La’Mical Perine, Ty Johnson, and undrafted rookie Zonovan Knight will compete for one or two spots behind that tandem.
Coleman is a coaching staff favorite, but Perine and Johnson have shown flashes of potential during their young careers.