As always, we're asking five questions of our rival SB Nation blog this week, on the heels of this morning's scouting report. Friend and handsome gentleman Tommy Trout of Gang Green Nation was kind enough to dish on the state of the New York Jets, and you'll find his answers below.
Dave Choate: The Jets are without Geno Smith. Setting aside all snark, how much of a downgrade is Ryan Fitzpatrick, and does Bryce Petty have a prayer in hell of seeing the field for the Jets?
Scott Salmon: The answer to the first part of this question varies significantly on who you ask. If you ask me, and you apparently have, I would agree that Fitzpatrick is a downgrade. Fitzpatrick has never reached .500 in a season. Last season was one of his best statistical seasons, and he was still benched by Week 11. So I don't have very high hopes for him.
As for Petty, no, he doesn't have a prayer of seeing the field. He's extremely raw. For a significant portion of his college career, he didn't even have a playbook, so his learning curve is absolutely massive. The team seems determined to keep him far away from the field, so he can develop at his own pace. They just signed Matt Flynn, who should automatically be higher up on the depth chart. If Petty gets the reigns at all this year, it's because the season is already in the toilet.
Dave Choate: How reliant will this team be on the ground game now? Should we expect to see Marshall or Decker leading the team in targets, either way?
Scott Salmon: This probably depends on how long Smith is out. If it's Fitzpatrick, we will likely see a very run heavy offense, as we did in the first preseason game. With Smith, the team seemed more inclined to throw the ball with plenty of three or four receiver sets. Regardless of who is starting, Marshall will likely lead the team in receptions, but Decker could give him a run for his money if Smith is the starter.
Dave Choate: The front seven is still nasty. How big of a role will Leonard Williams have in his rookie season, and who else should we look for during the game?
Scott Salmon: When Williams was drafted, there was a sort of expectation that he wouldn't get a ton of snaps. However, with Sheldon Richardson being suspended for the first four games and possibly longer, he should be an immediate starter. With teams already forced to double team Muhammad Wilkerson and Damon Harrison, he should dominate early and often.
I would look for Lorenzo Mauldin. He showed a great motor in the first preseason game, but was having some difficulty closing the deal. He came very close to two sacks, so with the offensive line tied up trying to block everyone on the defensive line, I wouldn't be surprised to see Mauldin come roaring through the A-Gap.
Dave Choate: What are your impressions of Todd Bowles thus far? He was someone I liked for the Falcons' coaching vacancy, and I'm curious how different things look than they did during the Rex Ryan era.
Scott Salmon: With Bowles, it seems like the grown ups are finally at the table. We no longer have someone that openly admits he doesn't know anything about offense, and isn't trying to keep it back in a 1960s ground and pound system. Bowles is a mature adult that doesn't rely on his roller coaster emotions to make critical decisions, so it's been a nice change of pace.
Dave Choate: Predictions for the game, and your season?
Scott Salmon: I expect the Falcons to dominate this game, as Petty will be the quarterback for most of it, and he just isn't ready yet. As for the season, again, it depends on Smith's health. If he comes back soon, I would cap the team out at 9-7. If Fitzpatrick has the reigns, I would guess closer to 6-10.