The Jets mandatory three-day minicamp that kicks off Tuesday will punctuate an eventful offseason that left little doubt that Woody Johnson’s billion-dollar outfit is in full-fledged rebuilding mode.
Here are five storylines to keep an eye on this week before the players and coaches go on hiatus until training camp in late July.
1. How does Christian Hackenberg look?
Todd Bowles has made it clear that he’s holding an open quarterback competition, but let’s not fool ourselves: Josh McCown is the clear-cut favorite at this point to be the Week One starter.
The more important piece to this equation is making sure that Hackenberg continues to digest John Morton’s West-Coast inspired offense and correct the mechanical flaws that plagued him in college.
The second-year signal caller seemingly has done a good job blocking out the noise surrounding his every move. A solid minicamp performance will put him in the proper mindset as he prepares to give McCown and Bryce Petty a run for their money when training camp opens.
2. Is the new-look secondary any good?
The Jets remade their defensive backfield this offseason much like they did two years ago upon Mike Maccagnan’s arrival. The difference, of course, is that the core of this year’s changes center on two rookies rather than big-name, big-money free agents.
Safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, who has been easing his way back from an arm injury suffered near the end of his college career, are expected to be the centerpiece on the back end. Adams didn’t make any egregious mistakes in the few OTAs open to the media.
Free-agent acquisition Morris Claiborne, the de facto top cornerback, had a quality few weeks in OTAs. The organization has high hopes for second-year man Juston Burris. Minicamp will matter for him too.
It’s only June, but you would think that this defensive backfield should be able to make some plays in minicamp against an inexperienced wide receiving corps.
3. Which pass catchers will surprise us?
Eric Decker’s departure leaves Morton with a green group of wideouts (pun sort of intended). Twenty-five year-old Quincy Enunwa, who has 80 career receptions, suddenly becomes the Yoda in this room of inexperienced pass catchers. We’ve seen Enunwa and Robby Anderson produce in flashes, but who will grab the No. 3 job?
The Jets sure hope it’s third-round pick ArDarius Stewart, who dealt with a thumb issue at OTAs. Will Stewart or fourth-round rookie Chad Hansen open some eyes this week? The brain trust sure hopes so.
Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins had an impressive OTAs, but there’s still a long way to go for this talented, but troubled player. He still has a lot to prove. A few more solid days this week certainly would give everyone on One Jets Drive more confidence that the tight end might be someone they can count on this season.
4. Will Demario Davis be able to replace David Harris?
The initial thought upon hearing that Davis was back via trade was that he’d be nothing more than insurance in case Harris or Darron Lee got hurt. Let’s not forget that Davis fell out of favor two years ago as his playing time steadily eroded. Bowles was fully aware that the linebacker’s glaring deficiencies in coverage made him a liability.
With Harris’ ouster, Davis becomes the favorite to replace him as the Mike linebacker, a position that he did not play for Bowles two years ago. Can he do it? Bruce Carter is the only other viable option at this point.
Davis has plenty to learn at that spot. That learning will commence in earnest this week.
5. What’s the expectation for the offensive line?
It’s never easy evaluating offensive linemen in June, so let’s not overreact — good or bad — based on what we see this week. That being said, it would be nice to get encouraging signs from new left tackle Kelvin Beachum and right tackle Brandon Shell this week.
Beachum has been dealing with soreness in his surgically repaired knee, so it’s probably not fair to expect miracles at the moment. Shell had an eye-opening December that gave the powers that be confidence that he could win the starting gig this year. Bowles & Co. will feel a lot better about if those anchors show flashes in minicamp.