For the last two off-seasons, quarterback Mark Sanchez has held a “Jets West” camp, a players-only passing camp which Sanchez runs in California. Last season’s camp gave players on the offense some of the only work they could get in together during an off-season disrupted by the NFL lockout. While the Jets’ end result last season fell well short of their Super Bowl ambitions, the Jets West camp has been seen as an important example of Sanchez’s leadership on the team.
This year’s camp takes on a special importance, as does each activity the Jets offense takes to get prepared for this upcoming season. A new offensive coordinator, new players at skill positions and an overall need to improve over last season’s output places the spotlight on what the offense is doing to best get ready for this season.
Mark Sanchez is entering his fourth season as the Jets’ starting quarterback and this season is seen as a make-or-break year for the much-maligned quarterback. To try and put him in the best position to succeed, the Jets hired former Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano as their new offensive coordinator. Sparano has made simplicity the key-word this season, as former coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s system had been widely criticized as too detailed for anyone but him to understand.
Running back Joe McKnight said in an interview with the New Jersey Star Ledger, “We were just thinking so much last year, it made it more easy for us this year.”
With the new playbooks has also come a new set of personnel and expanded roles for returning players. LaDainian Tomlinson and Plaxico Burress, both free agents, are not expected to return after disappointing results last year. That leaves young skill players like McKnight and wide receivers Jeremy Kerley and Patrick Turner to step up and fill the void that those players left.
The Jets’ corps of wide receivers is filled with young players looking for a breakout season. Kerley had a solid rookie season, putting out solid numbers primarily out of the slot position. Turner has experience with both Sanchez from USC and Sparano after spending a season with the Dolphins, and could benefit from the familiarity with two of the key members of the offense. The Jets also spent two draft picks this season on wide receivers, second-round pick Stephen Hill from Georgia Tech and seventh-round pick Jordan White from Western Michigan, with Hill being one of the most highly regarded receivers from this past draft class.
Each of these young players will be competing for the second wide receiver spot opposite star wide-out Santonio Holmes. Holmes had his own issues this year as he struggled with constant double teams from opposing defenses and inconsistent play from Sanchez. He’s looking to rebound and prove that he is worth the long-term deal the Jets gave him last off-season.
Between this collection of young wide receivers and Holmes working to establish a better relationship with Sanchez, the skill players in the passing game will need every minute of training camp to get the offense ready. The team even has a new wide receivers coach; the former Raiders WR coach Sanjay Lal will look to help integrate the new system with the speedsters.
“Jets West” and each team activity following will be another step towards the efficiency the Jets offense has yet to achieve under Mark Sanchez.
By Eric Gustafsson