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To get ready for Thursday's Detroit Lions game, I exchanged five questions with John B from Gang Green Nation, SB Nation's New York Jets blog. You can check out his answers below.
1. What have your impressions been so far of new head coach Todd Bowles, and how would you compare him to the previous head coach, Rex Ryan?
Considering Bowles has not even coached a preseason game, it's impossible to make any definitive statements. I'll do my best to answer the question, though. By most accounts, there has been a renewed emphasis on the little things. A number of media members covering the team have noted training camp practices looking crisper and things like lateness to practice not being tolerated in contrast to the old regime. I think it was definitely time for a change. A number of Jets players last year and during the offseason either subtly or not so subtly suggested the team was not preparing the way it should have last season. Press conferences have also been less of a carnival act. As a fan, it is kind of nice for the focus to be on football again, not what outrageous thing the coach did.
2. Is it safe to say that bringing back Darrelle Revis was the most impactful signing the Jets made this offseason?
The Jets have not had even a functional offense in a long time or a playmaker with the reputation of Brandon Marshall, so it is close. I do think I'd give the edge to Revis, though. The Jets had the worst group of cornerbacks in the league last season. When you can add a player who is either the best or second-best player at that position, it makes a big impact. It also changes the scheme when you can take away the other team's best receiver on most weeks with single coverage. Bowles likes to play an attacking defense, so man corners are essential. I think the biggest reason I'd give the nod to the Revis signing, though, is it didn't just make the Jets better. It also took the most important defensive player off the team the Jets need to beat to win the division.
3. With Geno Smith out with a broken jaw for the foreseeable future, where do the Jets turn at quarterback?
The Jets traded a late-round pick in the offseason to bring in veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick isn't a great quarterback, but he is more of a known commodity than Smith. Frankly, that commodity is better than Smith's production to date. Smith's biggest selling point was a theoretical ceiling that is higher than what Fitzpatrick can do. The hope is the Jets have surrounded Fitzpatrick with a roster good enough that the quarterback doesn't have to do a lot of the heavy lifting.
4. On Thursday night, what are the main position battles that Jets fans will be watching?
The Jets don't have a ton of position battles. The biggest position battle is probably at right guard. There are four or five conceivable starters. It's also worth watching the strongside linebacker spot, where third-round pick Lorenzo Mauldin is trying to supplant long-time Jet Calvin Pace. Fullback is a third spot. Incumbent Tommy Bohanon is up against Julian Howsare. Howsare is an undrafted rookie out of a Division II school. He was a linebacker in college, but the coaching staff is giving him a look at fullback. In that instance, it might not be enough to simply be better than the other guy. Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey said he might not keep any fullbacks.
5. Who are some under-the-radar players on the Jets worth keeping an eye on this preseason?
Wide receiver Chris Owusu is having an excellent training camp, building off a big game in last season's finale against the Miami Dolphins. He was getting reps in three-receiver sets over Jeremy Kerley in practice. Unfortunately, he sustained a concussion (his fourth), so his availability for the game is in question. Brent Qvale is an unknown. He spent last season on the practice squad but did enough for the coaching staff to give him a shot in the large right guard competition. Dexter McDougle was a 2014 third-round pick. He tore his ACL last season in training camp. His selection was polarizing among the fan base, but the second-year corner is having a strong camp. McDougle isn't going to have a starting role, but Bowles' defense frequently loads the field with extra defensive backs, so it is going to be interesting to see whether McDougle can carve out a role for himself.