Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Five burning questions as OTAs begin
By Rich Cimini
The next phase of the New York Jets' offseason begins Tuesday -- organized team activities. Or, as we like to call them in the biz, OTAs. Five questions facing the Jets as they start three weeks of practices before the mandatory minicamp:
1. Can Geno Smith hold off Michael Vick? We already know how Vick feels about the subject, as he stated his belief that Smith will be the opening-day quarterback. Vick probably is right, but Smith needs to eliminate any doubts. He can start by building off his promising finish to last season, which means taking control of the offense in OTAs. Smith has impressed teammates with his improved command of the offense, but it's one thing to be that way in a walk-through and quite another to demonstrate it against a live defense.
2. Is Eric Decker worth the money? The Jets, no longer big spenders in free agency, made an exception for Decker, giving him a five-year, $36 million contract. For that kind of loot, they expect him to be more than a nice No. 2 wide receiver. This could be culture shock for Decker, who goes from Peyton Manning to Smith/Vick. Then again, he caught passes from Tim Tebow in 2011, so he should be prepared for anything.
3. Can Jace Amaro find an immediate niche? The Jets didn't use a lot of two-tight-end packages last season, but that could change with Amaro joining incumbent Jeff Cumberland at the position. The second-round pick is a big dude (6-foot-5, 265 pounds) with the ability to basically line up as a wide receiver. It will be interesting to see how coordinator Marty Mornhinweg incorporates Amaro into the passing attack.
4. Is Calvin Pryor as good as Rex Ryan thinks? Ryan always gushes about his rookies, but he's positively smitten with his first-round pick. He already has compared Pryor to one of the most notorious safeties in history, the hard-hitting Jack Tatum. It will be interesting to see how Ryan juggles Pryor, Dawan Landry and Antonio Allen in the safety rotation -- if there is a rotation. We're talking about three players with similar skill sets -- i.e. strong safety-types.
5. Is it Milliner time? Taking Smith out of the equation, the most improved player on the team has to be cornerback Dee Milliner. If not, the defense will have problems because it's counting on him as the No. 1 cornerback. Milliner has to be the rock in the post-Cromartie/post-Revis era. Last year's top pick, who missed the 2013 off-season because of a shoulder injury, saved a poor rookie year with a strong finish. Now he needs to build on that. Just being on the field, as opposed to rehabbing an injury, will help immensely.