Five questions Jets must answer in training camp
For a coach who burst onto the scene with oodles of confidence and plenty of Super Bowl guarantees, Rex Ryan has been awfully quiet about his team's chances this year. With good reason: Three seasons removed from a second consecutive appearance in the AFC Championship Game, Ryan's roster has been decimated, and most of the players left haven't amounted to much. Starting with the quarterback.
So, no more guarantees from the outspoken coach, not with this group. But as the Jets prepare to begin training camp in upstate Cortland, he insists he's as excited as ever. But there's plenty of work to be done, and plenty of questions to answer. Here are the five biggest:
SANCHEZ OR SMITH?
It is the question that will dominate all of training camp . . . and beyond. Ryan has declared this an open quarterback competition from the get-go, and Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith each is eager to stake his claim to the No. 1 job. Give Sanchez the edge going into camp because of his early grasp of the West Coast offense, but Smith shouldn't be counted out. If the rookie is even with or close to Sanchez by the third preseason game, Ryan might go with him. That's what 52 turnovers over the last two seasons will do to a coach's thinking.
WHO REPLACES DARRELLE REVIS?
Given the uncertainty over his knee injury and the financial constraints created by his contract demands, Revis was dealt by first-year GM John Idzik to Tampa for a first-round pick this year and a likely third-rounder in 2014. Alabama star cornerback Dee Milliner was selected No. 9 overall as Revis' heir apparent, but rehab from a shoulder injury may delay his progress, meaning that for now another former first-round pick, Kyle Wilson, sticks as the starter opposite Antonio Cromartie. Another player to watch on defense is Quinton Coples, who goes from end to 3-4 outside linebacker to take advantage of his pass-rush skills.
IS THIS REX RYAN'S LAST TRAINING CAMP WITH THE JETS?
Ryan was retained by owner Woody Johnson after last year's 6-10 train wreck, but with Idzik now calling the personnel shots, the coach could be on thin ice. Ryan hasn't lost his swagger or his zest for life. Running with the bulls in Pamplona while on vacation tells you that much. Ryan isn't shy about saying he wants to be the Jets' coach for years to come, but this could be a make-or-break season. A winning record virtually guarantees he'll return. Anything .500 or less, and Idzik undoubtedly will consider a change.
WHO RUNS THE BALL?
With the Jets moving on from the Shonn Greene era, the No. 1 job is wide open. The Jets signed Raiders free agent Mike Goodson to fill a big role, but his offseason arrest clouds his status. Looks as if former Saints running back Chris Ivory, acquired in a trade, has the best chance to start. But returnees Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight want to get in on the action, too.
WHO CATCHES THE BALL?
The Sanchez-Smith duel certainly will take center stage, but there's also the matter of who catches their passes. Tight end Dustin Keller is a Dolphin. And there's no telling when Santonio Holmes, who underwent foot surgery last October, will be ready. He has yet to practice since being injured. The Jets hope second-year receiver Stephen Hill cures a case of the dropsies, and Jeremy Kerley looks like the most dependable receiver at this point. But he's a No. 3 at best, so someone else needs to step up. And there isn't much left to choose from, unless you're a Clyde Gates fan. Looks like the signing of tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. might turn out to be a big deal -- if he can stay healthy.