FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Adam Gase will act mostly the Jets head coach this week, not the interim GM nor the leader of a search firm. Le'Veon Bell will be in a Jets uniform, mostly because it's mandatory. And young Sam Darnold will finally get a sense of what he can do in his new offense with all his weapons on the field.
For the next three days, as the Jets begin their three-day, full-team, mandatory mini-camp, it will be football first, with all the off-field drama of the last few weeks finally pushed aside. Gase's coaching -- not his front office power play -- will be the center of attention. And there will plenty of interest storylines to watch.
Here are the top five:
1. How will Le'Veon Bell fit in, and is he ready to be the Jets' star?
Gase hasn't criticized the Jets' star -- and highly paid -- running back for skipping the voluntary workouts, even after sitting out all of last season in a contract dispute with the Steelers. But the new Jets coach has also made it clear he's anxious to get Bell on the field to start seeing how he can fit into the offense. Obviously he already has some idea, but he wants to see up close exactly what Bell can do.
Remember, Bell hasn't been on a football field since the end of the 2017 season. That's about a year and a half. Maybe that will leave the 27-year-old with fresh legs. Maybe it'll leave him with rust. Sure, he's been working out, but is he in "football shape"? Can the Jets turn him into a workhorse or will they have to ease him back to the NFL slowly? It all remains to be seen.
And this week will be a small, but significant first test.
2. Can Sam Darnold live up to the hype in Year 2 (and there is already a TON of hype)?
Publicly, Gase has raved about the growth and maturity of Darnold and how excited he is to work with the young quarterback. Privately he's raved even more. His feeling is that he has not just a franchise quarterback, but a star in the making who is ready for a breakout season in his second year.
There'll be no way to know for sure, of course, until the regular season starts. But for now, every pass, every completion, every interception will be under the microscope. Darnold will have enough weapons this year. He might have enough protection, too. Everyone will be watching -- including Gase, who wants to open up his playbook and let Darnold run wild, and all of his new teammates who want to feel confident that Darnold is the right guy.
3. Does Gregg Williams have the horses to turn the Jets' defense into a monster?
From the organized team activities (OTAs), the only thing really clear about Williams' defense is it will be loud and players are going to have a ton of energy. Those are good things, of course. But will that mean anything in terms of production? Will he be able to get enough of a pass rush to overcome a weakness in the secondary?
He's not going to unload everything this week, but Gase has said he expects practices between his offense and Williams' defense will be like a mini-war. They will try to outsmart each other. They'll try to win the day. Other than signing linebacker C.J. Mosley and drafting defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, the Jets didn't significantly upgrade their defensive personnel.
So can Gregg Williams make what he has work?
4. Is DT Quinnen Williams ready to 'dominate'?
He says so. In fact he's said it many times since ... well, since the day before the Jets made him the third overall pick in the draft. He believes he's the best player in the draft and thinks he can "dominate" NFL competition. Unfortunately, a calf injury in his first NFL practice kept him out of most of the first two weeks of OTAs.
It's unclear if, or how much, he'll participate in minicamp. Chances are the Jets will be somewhat cautious with him. But it's a good bet Gase and Gregg Williams don't want to baby the rookie, either. If he's healthy enough they could try to get him into some team drills to see where he is.
5. Do the Jets have enough in the secondary?
Other than signing cornerback Brian Poole, they basically did nothing to upgrade their secondary this offseason. Maybe they don't have to. There certainly is talent there beyond safety Jamal Adams. But they are counting on a lot of things working out for this secondary to work right.
Start with cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who had a miserable first season after signing his megadeal with the Jets, and ended up benched for their season finale. His attitude and his ability to return to his old form will be significant. The offseason reviews so far are mixed, especially since he has been absent from OTAs.
But beyond Johnson, can Darryl Roberts be a good-enough starter on the other side? Has safety Marcus Maye recovered enough from shoulder surgery to be an impact player again? Those are questions the Jets will likely be asking all spring and summer long.