It’s an old cliché in sports — competition fuels everyone to perform better. That adage typically holds true, and those words are uttered out of seemingly every athletes’ mouth at least once in his or her career.
That clichéd saying perfectly personifies the 2017 New York Jets.
Wherever you look on the depth chart or on the field at 1 Jets Dr., you see competition. From kick returner to offensive tackle — and of course quarterback — there are many players fighting for roster spots and starting jobs.
In just one non-padded practice in Florham Park, New Jersey, Gang Green displayed its plethora of “job openings.” It seems like every position group, with the exceptions of defensive line and safety, has at least one starting job up for grabs.
Wide receiver and cornerback are as wide open as any position group on the team. Both units have a clear-cut No. 1 (Quincy Enunwa at wide receiver and Morris Claiborne at corner), but neither has much clarity behind that.
On the offensive line, coach Todd Bowles said there’s competition at “both tackle spots.” Brent Qvale and Brandon Shell are battling on the right side while Ben Ijalana recovers from injury with a chance to compete with Kelvin Beachum on the left.
At outside linebacker, Josh Martin earned first-team reps on Saturday even with a pair of young ‘backers — Jordan Jenkins and Dylan Donahue — on the roster.
And, of course, the Jets’ never-ending — yet tumultuous— quarterback debate started a new chapter on Saturday.
“We don’t have a starter [at quarterback],” Bowles said. “Regardless of who goes first, who goes second, who goes third, they’ll all get a chance to play. We have a lot of evaluating to do.”
Two of the three members of the QB trifecta answered questions about the cliché that personifies the Jets.
“We pull for each other and everyone has each other’s backs — I think that’s what so cool about the three of us here,” Christian Hackenberg said. “If someones doing well you want to follow them and you want to continue to push each other. It’s really conducive to our room because it gets the best play out of all of us.”
Bryce Petty shared a story of a throwing competition Josh McCown “created.” Following Saturday’s practice, the quarterbacks competed by throwing at the goal post.
“If our room is competitive, that makes the offense better and that just sets us up as a team better,” Petty said.
While New York’s regular season may be bleak and excitement may be sporadic, if this adage holds true, training camp and preseason should be surprisingly fun.