(Pic: USA TODAY)
NFL Insider Ric Serritella weighs in with his New York Jets training camp observations following their second preseason game against the Washington Redskins.
The Mike Maccagnan & Todd Bowles Era enters year four with just 20 wins under their belt for the New York Jets, including just five victories in each of the past two seasons. While the organization traded up to select new franchise quarterback Sam Darnold with the third overall pick, there is pressure to produce better bottom line results.
It’s fair to say that Darnold has exceeded expectations through the first two preseason games and it appears that he may be the right man to open the season as the Jets starter. However, the best move for this organization long-term is to showcase quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who has looked impressive in his own right during camp.
Every year, it seems that a starting quarterback goes down for the season due to injury, leaving that NFL team to scramble for a capable replacement. Bridgewater could be the Jets’ golden ticket, which is why he should start the third preseason game and run with the ones, in order to help maximize his trade value.
With 39-year old veteran Josh McCown still in tow as an insurance policy should Darnold falter or sustain injury, team brass must make a decision that’s in the best overall interest of the organization. Seriously, the Jacksonville Jaguars should have Maccagnan on speed dial!
As for Darnold, he looked sharp against Washington, making the correct reads and taking what the defense was giving him. If his performance versus the Redskins was any indication of how he’ll perform, New York just might have finally found the right man to end the near 50-year Super Bowl drought.
Another position battle that’ll be interesting to watch is at running back, where ‘ol reliable Bilal Powell has been his usual productive, between the tackles runner, while offseason acquisition Isaiah Crowell has nursed a concussion. Powell drew the start versus Washington and had a pair of catches, reminding us why he has caught 80 balls over the past two seasons, in addition to rushing for 1,500 yards, despite starting just 14 games during that span. Bowles is familiar with Powell and could favor him to begin the season as starter.
On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Neville Hewitt has been applying some pressure on Darron Lee for his starting inside linebacker position. Hewitt has shined throughout training camp and led the team with eight tackles for the second consecutive preseason game. He has shown active hands, batting down balls in practice and games—he also had an interception against Atlanta. Hewitt is playing so well, it’ll be hard to keep the former back-to-back MAC Defensive Player of the Year off the field.
*Stay tuned for more preseason updates as we count you down to the 2018 NFL kickoff!