Welcome to our new weekly segment here on Heavy On Jets.
We’re just a few weeks away from training camp underway and there are several bubbling topics that are worth exploring a bit further.
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Jets Camp Primer Questions
1. What are you most excited about ahead of training camp?
There are just so many responses I could go with here, but following the parameters, I’ll control myself and stick to one sort of broad answer. After two years of Adam Gase, I am so excited to see Mike LaFleur’s offense in action — from the punishing run game to the play-action pass.
Of course, that includes playmakers like Zach Wilson, Elijah Moore, Michael Carter, Corey Davis, Keelan Cole, and many other brand new Jets’ faces taking the field together for the first time. So maybe I cheated with that answer just a little bit… you caught me!
I feel the same way as my partner in crime, there are an endless amount of possible answers to this question. He also covered a lot of bases with his answer so I’ll try to go in a different area.
The development of the former BYU passer is at the top of the list. You only get a rookie quarterback fresh out of the package once, so this is an amazing experience. It’s like having a brand new baby that’ll be affected by its’ environment: coaching, support staff, and day-by-day moments.
Wilson is going to get the brunt of the work with only James Morgan and Mike White on the roster. That includes three juicy preseason games where live bullets will be flying around. The 21-year old is the highest-drafted quarterback in Jets history and fans are going to get multiple chances to see him ahead of Week 1.
2. What are you most concerned about ahead of training camp?
The easy answer here is the cornerback room, but I’m actually excited to see who steps up and wins the job. I truly believe that competition breeds excellence and say it all the time.
Instead, I’ll go with the kicking situation. This is an absolute disaster on paper and we haven’t even hit August. I pray that Joe Douglas has a clever waiver wire ace up his sleeve or a veteran waiting on speed dial because Sam Ficken and Chris Naggar will not help with my blood pressure.
Sometimes the simplest answer is the right answer. I’m downright terrified of the current situation at cornerback. The only guy I feel really good about is Bryce Hall, the second-year corner out of Virginia, everyone else is a major wildcard.
Bless Austin has a great story, but he’s been super inconsistent with injuries and penalties. While Javelin Guidry is really fast (Al Davis would be proud), he’s massively inexperienced.
That leaves a gaping hole at a critical position of need in a passing league. Cue the yikes sound effect. Robert Saleh decided to scream YOLO and jump off the diving board with some of his decisions with this position group.
You have to respect the intestinal fortitude it takes to roll with that decision, but it could come back to haunt the Jets this season in a major way.
Looking Ahead to the Future
3. Does general manager Joe Douglas have any more tricks up his sleeve? Do you anticipate another move ahead of camp (free agency, trade, etc), if so who and why?
I think the move we’re all still expecting is a trade for Nick Foles, but it may come after the Jets play their first preseason game and see what they have in James Morgan and Mike White. The Chicago Bears have made it clear that they intend to start Andy Dalton until Justin Fields is ready to take over, so where does that leave the expensive former Super Bowl MVP?
With two years left on his contract and no one to pay him. That’s where Douglas comes in. He has a relationship with both Foles and Bears GM Ryan Pace, the available cap space to help Chicago out, and a wide variety of low-end draft capital to work with in 2022.
I don’t anticipate any other moves BEFORE preseason Week 1 against the New York Giants. I think Douglas and Robert Saleh want to see these youngsters on the field before they make any other decisions on waiver pickups or bringing in veterans via free agency or trade.
Before we talk about any future moves Joe Douglas could make ahead of camp, we should all give him a major round of applause for what he’s accomplished so far:
- Complete revamping of the offensive line
- Massive upgrade at the wide receiver position
- Finally investing in some pass rushers (no guarantee it’ll work, but glad he tried)
With that being said, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will this roster. There is still a slew of holes that could be addressed from backup quarterback to the cornerback group, but I’ll go with the under-the-radar move.
PLEASE SIGN MARCUS MAYE TO A LONG-TERM DEAL!
The Jets are running out of time, they only have until Thursday, July 15 to strike a deal. If they’re unable to do so, Maye will play out 2021 on the franchise tag.
The former Florida star is older than normal rookies coming off of their original contracts (28), but that shouldn’t prevent a deal from happening. This has the potential of a buzzer-beater deal a la the Muhammad Wilkerson contract from 2016.
It didn’t seem like a contact would be struck, but right before the 4 pm deadline, they found a way. While that didn’t work out, I anticipate something very similar happening here. If it does expect a three-year deal that maybe has guarantees through two years of the contract.
It’s a win-win. Maye gets some financial security and the Jets get him under contract for short term. In two years they can make another decision whether they want to re-up or cut bait.
4. If you could only pick ONE undrafted free agent to make the roster for the Jets in 2021, who would it be and why?
I’ll preface this by saying I think cornerback Isaiah Dunn is a shoo-in to make the roster, but the guy I want to see make it is Camilo “Milo” Eifler. The 4-3 outside linebacker out of Illinois finds himself in a fortuitous situation as the Jets are weaker at his position, but he’ll still have to prove he can cut it at the pro level.
Eifler is a hard-hitter that I believe can make an excellent special teams tackler with his explosive athleticism. He would also make a nice depth WILL linebacker option behind Jamien Sherwood or Blake Cashman in Saleh’s system.
Isaiah Dunn, is a “shoo-in” to make the roster huh? That’s pretty bold, but I’ll go a step further. The former Oregon State starter will not only make the final 53-man roster, but he’ll also be a Week 1 starter vs the Carolina Panthers. HOW ABOUT THAT!
If you want a fiery heart take in the middle of July, you got one! Now I’ll say that speaks to two things: Dunn’s ability and the Jets’ faith in him but also it speaks to the weakness of the entire cornerback group. Spots are up for grabs and he’ll be the beneficiary.
5. On the other side of the coin, who is the one player that’ll be the biggest surprise roster cut ahead of Week 1?
Part of this question comes down to what would be a surprise for Jets fans? We have to go down from 90 players to a 53-man roster plus a likely 16-man practice squad. That means there will be a mass exodus of players. Also, it’s worth noting that Douglas tends to be very active on the waiver wire after preseason cuts, not to mention other teams may target players we attempt to move to the practice squad. That means there should be a few major shockers, so I won’t consider any of the five that I listed in my June 20th Jets chopping block article to qualify as that.
I’ll go even bigger and say 2020 draft pick, Cameron Clark. Many fans expected Clark to transition to the interior of the offensive line but the plan has never materialized in practice. In this new outside-zone run scheme, that’s probably even less likely to happen in 2021.
With better-suited players like Alijah Vera-Tucker, Greg Van Roten, Alex Lewis, Dan Feeney, and more manning the interior and Morgan Moses joining the tackles, I just don’t think there’s enough room for the slow-developing Clark (who another team might snatch off waivers for tackle depth).
La’Mical Perine is going to be gone like the wind.
Despite being a Douglas fourth-round pick from just a year ago, his days on this roster are numbered. He just is a jack-of-all-trades kind of guy and that isn’t a compliment. There’s nothing he does that is spectacular and that average playing style and ability is bland.
Not a fit whatsoever in what the Jets want to do with this LaFleur system and his draft status doesn’t guarantee him anything. There is a slew of players that are going to make this team: Tevin Coleman, Michael Carter, and Ty Johnson brings a unique explosiveness to the table.