Except for the Oakland Raiders getting the OK to start packing for their move to Las Vegas, some mention of NBA salary envy, this year’s draft held for the first time in Philadelphia, the usual acts of misconduct (I’m not necessarily calling out dem Cowboys) and Michael Vick’s Stockholm Syndrome comments about Colin Kaepernick’s unemployment and coiffed afro, the NFL has been relatively quiet since the New England Patriots came from behind, down 18 points at halftime, on Super Bowl Sunday to beat the Atlanta Falcons in overtime, 34-28, way back in February. Basketball has dominated the back pages since that night. Baseball has tried, but the NFL has returned. They’re back this week to take over, or take back sports page headlines as teams open their training camps this week for the start of the 2017-18 pro football season.
As interesting as the league’s premiere teams are, those that are in rebuilding mode, such as the New York Jets, who open their camp tomorrow (Friday) in Florham Park, are quite interesting, too.
Coming off a 5-11 season, last in their division, tied for third worst in their conference, the Jets, coached by Todd Bowles, his third season, have shed themselves of several of the familiar names that you would know. Safety Darrelle Revis, kicker Nick Folk, 12-year center Nick Mangold, 10-year linebacker David Harris, receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker and quarterbacks Geno Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick are all gone from the Jets’ updated roster. Both Mangold and Revis were first round Jet draft picks in 2006 and in 2007. Harris and Smith were second rounders chosen by the Jets in 2007 and in 2013. Folk and Fitzpatrick were signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Harris by the Patriots, Marshall and Smith with the New York Giants and Decker with the Tennessee Titans. Revis and Mangold are currently free agents.
Smith and Fitzpatrick’s departure leave the Jets with Bryce Petty, in his third year, and sophomore Christian Hackenberg at quarterback. They signed veteran quarterback Josh McCown, 38, in March to a one-year, $6 million guaranteed deal that provides incentives for postseason games. Hopefully the six will suffice, despite the goal of their general manager Mike Maccagnan, which is to “build a team that can be competitive for the playoffs on a yearly basis,” as he stated earlier this year.
As for now, McCown is expected to start as well as provide experience and leadership to the Jets’ two young QBs, both fighting for playing time and the starting position. The services of running backs Matt Forte and Bilal Powell will be helpful as McCown and the apprentices get acclimated with the team’s receivers. Receiver Quincy Enunwa, the Jets’ 6-foot-2, 225-pound sixth round 2014 draft pick who totaled 857 receiving yards and four touchdowns last year, will need to up his output for the Jets to win some games this season. Games start on the road in Buffalo against the Bill Sept. 10, and the Raiders in Oakland the following Sunday. Their first preseason game is Aug. 12 against the Titans.