FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A day of training camp is in the books and the Jets are already scrambling to obtain information on Sheldon Richardson, one of their best players who is already suspended for four games by the NFL and now stands charged with resisting arrest and endangering the welfare of a child.
We lead our Jets training camp observations with this because Richardson's troubles have a bit of a domino effect for the rest of the franchise.
A first-time head coach (Todd Bowles) and a first-time general manager (Mike Maccagnan) now have a lot on their plate.
1. Muhammad Wilkerson cannot exit training camp without a new deal: Bowles praised the star defensive lineman on Thursday for attending all of the offseason team functions despite the fact that he's been teased with a new contract for the better part of three years now. This is partially the fault of the Rex Ryan administration who would tell anyone who would listen that Muhammad Wilkerson was the next Richard Seymour and that the team needed to earmark funds for him.
"I'm one of the leaders on this team, and at the start of training camp my job is to get out here with my teammates and get ready for the season," Wilkerson said.
He later added: "I'm going to focus on the season. It's my job to go out and be competitive with my teammates and get ready for games on Sundays."
With all the trouble mounting for Richardson, a defensive lineman under team control though the 2016 season, the Jets can no longer assume that he'll pick up the slack if the team allows Wilkerson to test free agency.
2. Drills with a purpose: Martyball is dead in New Jersey, which has led to the implementation of a much more practical practice schedule -- at least after one training camp practice. There are no drills that don't have a direct correlation to certain routes or play concepts, which should be especially beneficial for Geno Smith if the team hopes to have him ready for Week 1.
This might not be related, but it's the first time in a decade the Jets have had a former player as a head coach and a former scout/personnel man as a general manager at the same time. Sometimes this leads to a stale type of group think, but sometimes it's the simplicity and experience that can turn a franchise around.
3. Speaking of Geno Smith ... After watching a Rex Ryan defense go full boar at Mark Sanchez every day for five years, I can safely say it did not help his development as a quarterback. After watching Smith try to complete a pass against Darrelle Revis while Wilkerson and Williams leapt into his peripheral vision, I can also safely say he doesn't have much time to implement the new offense.
For some quarterbacks, this is a blessing. But for Smith, who consistently holds on to the ball too long and over-thinks plays, I'm not sure what this is. Though it's only one training camp practice -- the first, mind you -- there were enough check downs and scrambles to cloud my enthusiasm.
4. This secondary will be great, but ...The team had better hope Dee Milliner comes around. I think it's healthy to express a bit of skepticism about the long-term validity of Antonio Cromartie opposite Revis. Cromartie is 31 and coming off a not-entirely-spectacular season with the Cardinals. According to Pro Football Focus, he was one of the top 25 corners from 2014 in terms of yards allowed, with a catch rate of nearly 60 percent. Having Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall on hand might be a bonus if only because it will keep Cromartie interested throughout camp.
5. Todd Bowles will be fine in New York: It's not an easy place to coach, but Bowles seems to have all the embedded clout of someone like Herm Edwards without the bombast. He's not Eric Mangini, either, which should help.