Commentary

State of the Jets, halfway to '10 opener

Revis' absence looms large, but other issues, surprises, disappointments emerge

Updated: August 25, 2010, 4:54 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPNNewYork.com

Nineteen days until opening night.

The New York Jets have 19 days to play two preseason games, hand out 27 pink slips, resolve the Darrelle Revis drama and, oh, yes, prepare for the Baltimore Ravens.

It's a Hard Knocks life, but as Rex Ryan likes to say, "Don't feel sorry for us. We've got everything we need."

With training camp over and the team shifting into a regular season-type practice schedule, this is a good time to take stock of the Jets. So here's a look back at the last three weeks and a look ahead to the next three:

[+] EnlargeKris Jenkins and Ropati Pitoitua
AP Photo/Mike McCarnRopati Pitoitua got a lift to the sideline, courtesy of Kris Jenkins, after a season-ending Achilles injury.

ONGOING ISSUES

The Revis holdout. It's 25 days and counting, and contrary to some reports, the sides aren't close to a blockbuster contract extension. The next true pressure point will be Sept. 9, when the Jets begin on-field preparations for the Ravens. Will somebody blink by then? Make no mistake, the Jets don't want to open their new stadium, on ESPN's Monday Night Football, without their premier defensive player.

Revis' absence has put rookie cornerback Kyle Wilson in the accelerated program, which isn't a bad thing, but he still hasn't faced live bullets.

The left-guard competition. Ryan wanted to have a winner by now, but front-runner Matt Slauson blew his chance to lock it up, exposing quarterback Mark Sanchez to a potentially devastating hit last Saturday in Carolina. Rookie Vladimir Ducasse is gaining, according to Ryan, but it might be too little, too late. Ducasse still hasn't played with the first unit.

Defensive depth. They're thin in the front seven, especially at inside linebacker and defensive end. The season-ending injury to Ropati Pitoitua, who was slated to be part of the line rotation, hurts. The Jets will be scanning the waiver wire on the final roster cutdown.

RESOLVED ISSUES

Kicker. There were a lot of questions about Nick Folk at the start of camp (i.e., are the Jets nuts for signing this guy?), but he has allayed concerns with a strong preseason. He has made six of seven field goal attempts, his only miss from 46 yards.

No. 2 quarterback. At the start of camp, Ryan led everyone to believe it was a semi-open competition, later announcing the job belongs to Mark Brunell. He has been outplayed by Kellen Clemens, but Ryan insisted, "We signed Brunell to be our backup quarterback, and he is."

Santonio Holmes' replacement. With Holmes suspended the first four games, the Jets apparently have settled on Brad Smith as the No. 3 wide receiver to start the season. Smith has been running with Jerricho Cotchery and Braylon Edwards in the three-receiver packages.

SURPRISES

Nick Mangold's contract. Not even Mangold thought it was going to get done, but the Jets hammered out a seven-year, $55 million deal in less than two weeks. A message to Revis, perhaps?

Vernon Gholston. A former first-round pick (sixth overall, no less) shouldn't be in the "surprise" category, but such is the plight of Gholston. He's playing with more fire than in the past and seems more comfortable as a defensive end than a linebacker.

John Conner. The Jets knew in the spring that he had some special qualities, but the rookie fullback has made a bigger impact than anyone could've imagined. The Terminator is a wrecking ball at fullback, pushing Tony Richardson. Both will make the team, Ryan said.

DISAPPOINTMENTS

Revis' absence. It hasn't been noticeable on the field, but teams generally don't try to exploit opponents' weaknesses in the preseason. The Ravens, and the New England Patriots in Week 2, won't be so accommodating.

Joe McKnight. Save for his 67-yard punt return, the rookie running back has struggled mentally and physically. The hope was to make him the third-down back, replacing Leon Washington, but that's not going to happen anytime soon. Washington's early success in Seattle isn't making it easier for McKnight.

Jason Taylor. Of the Big Four additions (Holmes, LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Cromartie), Taylor is the only one who hasn't had any jump-out moments. He'd better start soon, because he's being counted on to improve the pass rush.

Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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