Archive for May, 2012

Extra Weight Won’t Slow Down Aaron Maybin

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Florham Park, N.J.- One the biggest weaknesses of the Jets defense last season was the lack of team speed, causing the Jets to implement a team-wide offseason plan to lose weight and gain speed over the offseason, but as with every rule there will always be exceptions.

Aaron Maybin has had trouble keeping his weight up to his desired level throughout his career and if there’s one thing Maybin doesn’t lack, it’s speed. So while most of his teammates, aside from Joe McKnight, have focused on slimming down, Maybin has bulked up and he has no intentions of letting the extra weight slow him down.

“When we started off our offseason conditioning program I was probably as lean as I’ve ever been. I was probably around 229-230 so between then and now, I’m up to 243 now.” Maybin said, “So I’m still gaining a little bit, but I told myself I was just going to keep gaining until I felt like it starts to slow me down or hamper me a little bit. But I still feel great, still feel fast, still look fast on film.”

Aaron Maybin's play was a pleasant surprise for the Jets last year, this year he has bulked up noticeably with intentions of becoming a complete linebacker. (Jetsinsider.com Photo)

When ever a player puts on weight the first question they will get will be about how the weight gain will effect their speed and Maybin knew this as he answered the question before it was even asked. But he was kind enough to expand on the subject in response to a follow-up question. “I mean, you look at me out there and I still feel confident I can run down most receivers (laughs). So yeah I still got confidence in my speed.”

There were many different factors that contributed to Maybin’s release from the Bills, but the issue of his weight seemed to be a sticking point for many and understandably so, linebacker isn’t exactly the ideal position for anyone having trouble keeping weight on. But although Maybin understands where the talk comes from, he thinks the perception doesn’t meet reality on just how much of a “problem” it has been for him and he’s eager to prove it’s no longer a problem at all.

“Really there was a time where I had trouble putting weight on, this, that and the third. But what a lot of people don’t know is towards the end of my second year there (Buffalo) I was weighing in at 250 and carrying that, I just wasn’t on the field so no one really knew about that. (Then) I had an issue going into that next training camp, where I was fighting a sickness (pneumonia).

“It just always seemed like there was something going on that was holding me back and now this is one of the first times where I can really just say, with confidence, that I feel great. Just physically, mentally, everything has just been awesome this offseason. Our strength and conditioning coaches have done a great job working with me to help me get stronger, help me get bigger and help me maintain my speed and that’s something that we’ve definitely done. All of my weights have gone up in the weight room, I’ve gotten a lot stronger and I feel a lot stronger and more explosive and I think that it’s starting to show on the field, even though we’re only in OTAs.”

Bigger, stronger and as fast as ever Maybin is enjoying his offseason this year as he works to become a better all-around player, but as much work as he has personally put in to improve Maybin thinks the drafting of Quinton Coples will help his game just as much as anything else. When asked if he feels Coples will make his job much easier Maybin said, “I’d say so (smiling).

“When you look at it every time we line up together, I can look at the tackle and tell he’s literally looking back and forth like ‘alright, which one of these guys are we going to double.’ Because it’s really difficult when you have someone that has to be accounted for right next to you, you can’t get all the attention your way and if you look at the progress that he’s making and the amazing progress that Mo (Muhammad Wilkerson) has been able to make, it’s just been incredible so nothing has me more excited than those guys and how they’ve progressed because that’s just going to help us all as a defense. That’s going to help me as an individual, it’s going to help the team. It’s going to help us all and that’s just the direction that we’re trying to go in.”

Learning a new system in football can be a daunting task for any player, let alone a system as complex as Rex Ryan’s. Maybin admitted to having a limited knowledge of the playbook last season saying, ”Man, I can’t even explain how big a factor that (familiarity in the system) plays for me. Just because of the fact that when you look at it, most people don’t really know, the first four weeks that I was playing last year I had to have all my plays on a little wrist band because I had no idea what I was doing, but the fact that I have a whole offseason now where I basically learned everything that we installed last year at this point and now we’re just in a process of refreshing ourselves on the field to what we’ve already been taking mental reps of.”

Despite his lack of muscles and familiarity with the defensive playbook Maybin was still the Jets most productive pass-rusher last season (six sacks and four forced fumbles in 13 games) and he is looking to build off last year’s performance by using his improved athletic ability with his knowledge of the system to become the dominate pass-rusher Jets fans have been desperately clamoring for.

“With me not having to (over) think and me being able to just go out and play fast and not hesitate,” Maybin said, “it’s helped me take my game to another level.”

A Guide to Handling Tebowmania

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Florham Park, N.J.- Let’s face it, many of you are already sick of the all-Tebow everything extravaganza. You’re also probably sick and tired of the sensationalism that has taken over sports media in general, specifically the New York sports media. As with any disappointing truth, the best way to make peace with it is by simply accepting the reality of the situation. Tim Tebow and the New York media were made for each other, they are a perfect match. A relationship that is exactly what both sides need to reach their intended goal. Tebow wants to spread his faith and he wants his leadership to extend beyond football. In order to achieve this he needs the media to keep churning out stories about him. The editors and reporters just want hits/page views/sales/attention (good or bad, it doesn’t matter). And of course you already know that although Tebow and the New York media may be a perfect fit for each other, it is you, the disgruntled fan that suffers.

As with all things Tebow, before I continue I must put up the following disclaimer: Any knock of Tebow’s ability as a quarterback is a direct result of watching him play/practice as a quarterback, nothing else. Tebow is an impressive individual and an exceptional athletic talent, however that doesn’t necessarily translate to being a good quarterback. My honest opinion of him as a quarterback, based on watching him play quarterback, is I don’t see him developing into a quarterback that can reach a sustained level of success in this league, not without drastic changes in his game. I am however willing to admit that it’s possible I could be proven wrong and if I am, good for Tebow the person, but it’s going to have to be Tebow the quarterback that convinces me. Finally references to Tebowmania have nothing to do with him as much as they have to do with the obsessive non-stop coverage of him. (more…)

How Simplifying the Offense Could Improve Running Game

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Florham Park, N.J.- From the very second Tim Tebow was traded to the Jets the talk has been about how this Jets offense will change, but the majority of the focus has been on the change in the quarterback situation while the running game has become something of an afterthought. This won’t be the case once we get closer to the start of the season and the conversation steers back to actual football talk. As we all know Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano intend to run the ball and their hope is that the simplification of the offensive playbook will be what spurs the resurgence of their rushing attack.

The problems many players had with former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer are well documented, with most of them pertaining to the playbook simply being too big and too complicated. Schottenheimer’s system was heavy with pre-snap movement and adjusting the play call according to the way the defense lined up.

“It just had so much stuff in the offense. If the defense came out and lined up one way, we had to change the way we ran our routes up
another way.” Joe McKnight said. “When Sparano came we just run routes, no changes just go out there and play football.” (more…)

Whose Ready to ‘Play Like a Jet?’: Rookie Camp, Day 1

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Florham Park, N.J.- Over the past three years we’ve heard Rex Ryan continually preach about, “playing like a Jet” and what that means to him and should mean to Jets fans. It was a tactical move as part of Ryan’s desire to change the culture of the Jets. Skeptics throughout the national football media may have their doubts about whether or not Ryan has been successful at this, but these rookies learn early and have now become the first to mention the ‘playing like a Jet’ mantra. Last year it was Jeremy Kerley who stressed his desire to ‘play like a Jet’ on the first day of training camp, this year it’d be easier to name the ones who didn’t repeat the mantra than the ones that did.

A common question for these rookies to hear is, has it set in that you’re a NFL football player? To which third round pick, Demario Davis, will likely win best answer from his head coach. “It already sunk in, it’s a lot of fun. I’m real excited. There’s no other team I wanted to play for than to be a Jet and when you put that helmet on, you got to know there’s a responsibility that goes with it. You got to ‘play like a Jet’ and playing like a Jet doesn’t just mean playing NFL football, it’s playing like a distinct type of NFL football player.”

SEXY REXY? Many who attended today's rookie minicamp did not recognize a much slimmer Rex Ryan. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

A distinct type of football indeed, it also means being surrounded with certain strong personalities. It’s hard to believe that there was anyone more excited to get back out on the football field than Mike Westhoff and the way he yelled and cursed his way all over the field he couldn’t have been happier. But this year he has a new loud, barking voice to pair up with in new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. Sparano didn’t stop moving or teaching for the entire two and a half hour practice. He screamed some, he gently explained at other times and when it was called for he gave out praise. Sparano looked very comfortable working his way around to every offensive player and teaching them all different things, in different ways.

Second round pick, Stephen Hill, stood at his locker answering questions with a huge smile stretched out across his face and when he was asked about working with Sparano, Hill said, “Oh it’s really good. Coach Sparano reminds me of my high school coaches so he’s always on me and I’ll make sure I’m doing the right thing.”

“It was good to get guys out there running around, albeit rookies.” Ryan said, “It was good, guys were flying around, (we were) teaching them pursuit drills and it’s always fun, you go back and I sat in there with Mike Pettine and it takes you back to 10-12 years ago when you’re putting it in and it’s the same thing and you’re like, ‘wow, we got a little teaching to do (laughs).’”

“I like the enthusiasm, some of the guys were flying around out there.” Ryan said, “Obviously some of the guys just jumped out at you, when you look at Coples and you look at Hill. The way they can run and Davis, I mean it’s kind of fun to watch.”

It’s always tough to gauge what you see at these practices, but one thing was clear. The Jets first two draft picks, Quenton Coples and Stephen Hill, stood out as towering presences over everyone around them. Hill at 6′5″ with electric speed stood tall over the other receivers and cornerbacks and he flew right past them with relative ease as well. He displayed an impressive set of hands catching almost every pass within range, including a pass he tipped back to himself twice before finally bringing it in for a catch. Hill is still raw when it comes to technique and route running, but he showed why the Jets thought so highly of him by putting his speed on display today.

“Definitely a lot of big play ability, but as these couple of days go on I’m doing a lot of learning right now.” Hill said when asked what he brings to this offense. “So as much as I learn the game goes just a little bit slower so I’m just making sure I learn the playbook.”

Just as Hill stood out in his group so did Coples, but where Hill impressed with his speed Coples showed off his power. Coples dominated every time he lined up inside and Ryan joked that he, “probably had six sacks today.”

“They used me all across the board.” Coples said, “I played some tackle, I also played some defensive end and mostly pass rushing techniques, but they used me all across the board.”

The knock on Coples coming out of college was about his desire to play the game and be the dominate player that he is clearly capable of becoming, which is exactly what Coples is focused on. When asked what he wants to prove, Coples said, ”That I can compete, that I can compete at the highest level. I can compete on the national stage and I get out and I can help the New York Jets get to a super bowl.”

Surely Coples isn’t lacking in confidence and even most people who question Coples have to think playing for Ryan will be the best thing for him and it sounds as if Coples agrees.

“Great guy from the beginning. From the minute I met him he was great.” Coples said, “He’s a man of word, he told me if I was there he’d pick me. I’m excited to be a part of his defense and I’m excited about him coaching me and helping me become great.”

Davis, Coples and Hill got most of the attention today and not just by name recognition, but there were plenty of other story lines. Most of these other players are out here competing for a spot on the roster and while there’s a lot of raw talent in some cases, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done, like in the case of, ‘The Aussie’ as tight end Hayden Smith was affectionately called multiple times today.

Smith had his name called out the most of anyone today, by far. The coaching staff clearly made an effort to make Smith a focal point of their day, as they had him blocking and running routes across the middle. It was easy to see the athletic talent and ability that makes him such an appealing project, but he needs to get comfortable on a football field, in helmet and pads, before he can iron out the stiffness in his game.

Today was, the ex-basketball and rugby player, Smith’s first time in a football helmet and pads, but he says that’s not what contributed to the rough edges of his game.

“The only thing that slowed me down was my mind, I think (half-joking). Like I said the helmet is something that I guess becomes something of like a second skin after awhile and you just get comfortable with it. It was sure fun putting it on and I’m sure some of my rugby mates would be having a good laugh if they saw me out there today.”

“I understand it’s a process. I know the situation I’m in, however I wouldn’t be a competitor or I wouldn’t be a professional athlete in rugby or be able to get where I was if I wasn’t pushing to do well.” Smith said, “So my goal is obviously to make the team, how everything eventuates around that is largely ‘what will happen will happen.’ I’ll be doing my best to put my best foot forward and hopefully get on the roster.”

Today showcased a lot of potential for these young rookies, some are expected to contribute immediately while others are projects that the team hopes to develop further down the line. But one thing everyone can agree on is it was great to get back to football and it should be a lot of fun watching who proves that they’re really ready to ‘play like a Jet.’

OVER 100 ROOKIE CAMP PHOTOS! Be sure to check out Jets Insider.com’s exclusive 2012 rookie camp photos CLICK HERE