For most of the next few weeks, that's all you'll be reading about with regard to the start of New York Jets training camp. The New York media has written about it. Sports talk radio can't get enough of it. Heck, I've written about it here, here AND here.
Well, there's more going on with the Jets than the quarterback battle.
So let's take a look at the non-quarterback things to watch for as Gang Green officially opens the 2013 NFL season:
Skill Position Battles
Whoever wins the battle behind center might depend on who's making the plays from the running back/wide receiver positions.
At running back, Chris Ivory seems to have the edge heading into camp, with Joe McKnight, Mike Goodson and Bilal Powell all fighting for carries. Personally, I'm still dismayed that Goodson is still on the team (read more on that here). McKnight is the only guy who's shown previous ability to catch the ball out of the backfield -- a prerequisite for the West Coast Offense the Jets are installing. If Ivory or Goodson (should he win the job) don't get better at that, this could become a very predictable (and doomed) offense.
Much like the running backs, the wide receivers haven't proved they can catch the ball consistently, either. Head coach Rex Ryan chided his receivers during OTAs, suggesting heads would roll if it continued. With No. 1 receiver Santonio Holmes on the PUP to being camp, Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley, Kellen Winslow and whomever else the Jets decide to bring to camp (latest rumors: Laurent Robinson and Austin Collie, with Braylon Edwards still an option) need to step up to give either Sanchez or Smith a fighting chance. This battle is wide open right now.
Will the Offensive Line Get Better?
On a team with little promise, this unit might have the most to live up to. Even with two Pro-Bowlers in Nick Mangold and D'Brickshaw Ferguson anchoring the line, this unit didn't create holes for now-departed running back Shonn Greene, didn't protect any of the quarterbacks who lined up last season, and, in general, consistently underperformed. The highlight from this unit last season is one that will forever be remembered, but one all Jets fans wish to forget.
When this team was winning in 2008 and 2009, the offensive line was one of the best in the league. To have any shot at staying competitive this season, it needs to regain that form. The team is high on some of its young guys -- Brian Winters, Vladimir Ducasse -- and the key could be if Pittsburgh Steelers castoff Willie Colon can stay healthy.
What to Make of the Rookies?
The Jets are expecting a lot from the new guys. They expect defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson to be a disruptive force in the middle of a line that couldn't get to the quarterback last season. They expect (whether they say it publicly or not) Dee Milliner to step into the Darrelle Revis role in the defensive backfield. Then there's that Smith fellow and his battle to be the starting quarterback.
Problem is: Only one of those guys is signed (Smith). While the Richardson and Milliner deals will likely get done soon, the longer they wait, the less time they're on the field. Plus, there are still question marks: Does Richardson have the motor become the quarterback's nightmare Rex Ryan expects him to be? Will Milliner ever be healthy, especially after his sixth surgery?
The time for answers for the New York Jets is now. Training camp is here, and the kickoff to the 2013 season is just six weeks away.
James Moffat has 10-plus years of journalism expertise, writing for daily print and online publications.
Check out his other work on the New York Jets here, or check out his recent work regarding the Jets:
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