A lot of eyes will be on the quarterbacks when the Buffalo Bills visit the New York Jets on Sunday. The Bills' EJ Manuel and Jets' Geno Smith will be forever linked after being the first two quarterbacks taken in the 2013 draft.
Both rookies have led their teams to 1-1 records. It will likely be the first of many times they go head-to-head.
The Daily Messenger asked Kristian Dyer, the Jets beat reporter for Metro New York, some questions about this year's New York team. He has covered the team since 2008.
Q: How is rookie quarterback Geno Smith looking through two games?
A: Like one would expect from a rookie, there are incredible highs and some head-shaking lows. Smith was poised and limited mistakes, even looking like a veteran in leading a fourth-quarter comeback drive in week one. Then on Thursday night, he was impatient in the pocket and throwing from his toes in the 13-10 loss at the Patriots. Smith is far from a finished product — a major reason why he went from a top-10 pick in most drafts to being taken by the Jets in the second round. Physically he must bulk up and he has to make decisions faster. He also must realize that he can't force throws into these tight NFL windows. He has potential but also must put in a whole lot of work.
Q: Mike Pettine obviously left the Jets to join the Bills. How is the New York defense this year?
A: The Jets defense this year under Dennis Thurman, the secondary coach of the past couple seasons, is younger and faster. The defensive line has upgraded and the linebacker corps has gotten more speed. It doesn't have as many big names as years past, but it might be a better unit than the one a season ago. I think this could be a top-eight defense in the league by the end of the year and with a playmaker or two brought in during free agency, could be a dominant group.
Q: There aren't a lot of big names at the skill positions. Do the Jets have enough weapons on offense?
A: Yes and no. If they can get the ground game going — which they didn't do against the Buccaneers but did in the loss to the Patriots — then they can be a relatively solid group. The wide receivers are a huge question mark, plagued with drops and some bad route running. Santonio Holmes is still not the same player he was before a Lisfranc injury last year in week four, a season where he was on pace to top 1,000 receiving yards. But the offensive line is better than last year so if they can limit mistakes, this could be a group that controls the ball and wins game via field position.
Page 2 of 2 - Q: Is Rex Ryan still on the hot seat?
A: Yes, he certainly is. It is rare to have a general manager come in from outside an organization and inherit a coach, but that's what happened to John Idzik this winter. Ryan isn't his "type" of a guy but the two seem to be making it work — for now. There's a general consensus that he needs a winning season to keep his job but anything better than last year's 6-10 record, especially in what is a rebuilding year, and it might just show some positive momentum. And that might be enough to give Rex one more year here in New York. But he might need to spend the offseason getting that tattoo of No. 6 removed from his arm.
Q: The Jets will come away with a win on Sunday if ...
A: It is cliché, but if they can limit turnovers then this could be a winnable game for the Jets. That first game breathed some life into the franchise and last Thursday night, despite being a loss, showed some real potential for this team. It is a long road to the playoffs, but this year was always about building blocks. And with a rookie quarterback on the other side of the ball, things are a bit more even in this game.
Follow Kristian Dyer on Twitter at KristianRDyer and follow Dan Goldman at MPN_DanGoldman.