Naturally, the eyes drift right to the quarterback position. Who is the starter? Will the rookies get the nod from Week 1, like they did in 2012? We listed the battles as two of the top 10 in the division. Wonder has grown over the three months since the draft.
Wonder lingers. Both teams list a tie for the starting job: Kevin Kolb and EJ Manuel for the Bills, Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez for the Jets.
The initial reaction goes three ways:
- The teams may not want to show their hand at this early stage in the preseason. One has to wonder how much of an advantage, though, given the fact that both offenses will look dramatically different from last year, anyway.
- The coaching staffs may be inspiring a competition between their quarterbacks that will push all parties involved through the coming weeks. No one can be content with where they stand on the depth chart, because no one knows where they stand.
- None of the four quarterbacks in question have done enough through the first week of camp to earn the starting job for their respective teams.
From a Patriots perspective, this news highlights the uncertainty with these two teams at the game's most important position.
A front-runner could still emerge in the coming weeks, and it already sounds like the rookies are headed that direction. We'll get a sense of where each quarterback stands in the race when the two teams play their first preseason games; someone's going to have to take the first-team snaps, right?
Some other thoughts on the Jets depth chart:
- Jets running back Bilal Powell is listed as the top option over Chris Ivory, likely because Ivory suffered a hamstring injury during practice.
- Stephen Peterman is winning the Jets right guard battle on the depth chart, with Vladimir Ducasse remaining the team's top back-up.
- Muhammad Wilkerson is listed as a defensive end, which makes sense, given that he was one of the best five-technique defensive ends in the NFL last year. Quinton Coples is listed as an outside linebacker -- a move which has been reported since May, and which Rex Ryan has been hinting at since February. It's not a role that Coples has filled in his past, and at 6'6" and 290 pounds, it's not what he's built to do, but regardless, it sounds like he's making strides in that transition.
- Antwan Barnes is listed as a backup to Coples, and Calvin Pace is still listed as a starting outside linebacker after being cut and re-signed to a lower contract. The 32-year-old logged three sacks in 2012 and just 7.5 sacks over the past two years. That's not a good look for Barnes; it was hoped his presence off the edge would improve the Jets anemic pass-rush (30 sacks in 2012).
- Rookie Dee Milliner is listed as a starting cornerback over Kyle Wilson, which can't be considered much of a surprise, given Wilson's struggles and Milliner's billing as the top cornerback in the 2013 draft class.
Some thoughts on the Bills depth chart:
- The quarterbacks aren't the only tie on the Bills depth chart, as they also list the left guard battle as a tie between Doug Legursky and Colin Brown. The Bills are trying to replace Andy LeVitre, who left Buffalo to become the fourth-highest-paid guard in the league with the Titans.
- Stevie Johnson and T.J. Graham are listed as the two starters at wide receiver, with 2013 second-round pick Robert Woods backing up Johnson and third-round pick Marquise Goodwin backing up Graham.
- Undrafted free-agent Da'Rick Rogers is listed as the fourth back-up to Stevie Johnson, ranking him somewhere between the sixth and 10th receiver on the roster.
- Many were under the impression that the Bills defense would switch to a base 3-4 with Mike Pettine as the new defensive coordinator, and while their first depth chart may be a bit of gamesmanship in and of itself, they are currently listed with a 4-3 front -- two starting defensive ends, two starting defensive tackles, three linebackers.
- No surprise with Marcel Dareus and Kyle Williams as the two tackles and Mario Williams as the right end, but Alex Carrington is listed as the starting end opposite Mario. Carrington was a third-round pick in 2010, enters his fourth season in the league, and has logged four sacks in a rotation with veterans like Chris Kelsay and Mark Anderson.
The Jets' first game is August 9 at the Detroit Lions; the Bills' first game is August 11 at the Indianapolis Colts.
While both Kolb and Manuel have been spotted running the read-option for the Bills in practice, the Jets have already committed to using Geno on read-option plays, seemingly eliminating the idea of Sanchez running it.
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