The Jets will head to Detroit to face the Lions tonight in what will be their only true road game of the preseason. With one game and plenty of training camp already complete, which Jets have the opportunity to take a commanding lead in their respective roster battles?
QB Josh McCown
This has been marketed as an “open competition”, but let’s face it. This has been McCown’s job to lose since Mike Maccagnan gave him $6 million in free agency. If not spectacular, McCown has been decent in training camp, never falling too far behind Christian Hackenberg, if at all.
In the Titans game, he looked very good on his only drive, effortlessly leading the team to their only score of the game. Todd Bowles said that McCown will see more time this week than he did in Week 1. If he can pick up where he left off last week, he’ll be well on his way to taking the team’s first offensive snap in Orchard Park. Few will agree with it, but that’s what the plan has been all along. Inevitably, McCown will succumb to injury or struggles and yield the job to Hackenberg when the team feels he is most ready. While McCown is possibly the least intriguing alternative conceivable, it’s not a bad idea to restrain from rushing in the young quarterback.
WR Frankie Hammond
With Lucky Whitehead going down for an estimated 4-6 weeks, Hammond is likely the leading candidate to take the kick returning job. With career averages of 10.9 yards per punt return (29 returns) and 37.0 yards per kick return (2 returns), Hammond has a track record of success as a returner in his limited chances. Against Tennessee, he had a 38 yard kick return and 12 yard punt return, both the longest of the game. More plays like that and he’ll have an inside track to a spot on the roster.
CB Dexter McDougle
Yes, he’s still around. McDougle was the third man selected in John Idzik’s infamous 12-man 2014 draft class and is the only one who will suit up for the team on defense this season. Outside of Morris Claiborne and Buster Skrine, the cornerback position is wide open. Juston Burris, Darryl Roberts, and Marcus Williams are all ahead of McDougle on the depth chart, but if he keeps playing the way he has there’s no reason he can’t surpass them.
According to Pro Football Focus, McDougle was the Jets’ highest graded cornerback against the Titans, giving up just 1 reception for 4 yards on 6 targets. He’s also gotten a lot of buzz throughout training camp, perhaps more than any other corner. One more great game can put him in prime position on the cornerback depth chart. Maybe Idzik has one more late gift left for Jets fans.
LB Julian Stanford
Darron Lee and Demario Davis seem locked into the starting ILB spots, but neither has the track record to keep that job entirely safe. This is a position where you could certainly see someome emerge as a new starter if the current ones, namely Lee, don't progress as expected. The teammate who made the best case to climb that ladder in Week 1 was Julian Stanford. He was all over the place making plays, contributing a (bone-shattering) sack, two tackles for a loss, a pass defended, and a quarterback hit. According to Pro Football Focus, he was the team’s highest graded linebacker. Stanford is in position to become the team's top reserve linebacker, and could eventually make the team think hard about playing Lee or Davis over him.
A look at Julian Stanford's massive sack: pic.twitter.com/3RJAhnkaR2— New York Jet Fuel (@NewYorkJetFuel) August 13, 2017
K Ross Martin
Martin had a very good college career at Duke in which he was one of the most accurate college kickers ever, and followed it up with a good training camp in 2016. He blew his shot in the preseason with a few ugly misses, but is getting another shot this year. By all accounts, he’s been excellent again, outkicking Chandler Catanzaro. Martin didn’t get a chance against Tennessee, but took another leg up when Catanzaro missed a 55-yard attempt. If he can come through when given the chance with the lights on, Martin will be the next Jets kicker.
Who do you think can cover the most ground in their position race against Detroit?