Final minicamp practice: Spy games and secondary progress

Florham Park, NJ – Hockey season has ended and the World Cup is in the middle of group stages, but ex-Jet defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine, just managed to pull off one of the most unique and oddly impressive hat tricks ever by managing to anger Rex Ryan, Bill Belichick and Nick Saban all in one interview.

Pettine was doing an interview with the MMQB.SI.com’s Greg Bedard when he began to talk about installing the defensive system in Cleveland and took the first swipe at Belichick. “I don’t put a lot of graduate-level information in it.” Pettine said, “We know in places like New England, it’s only a matter of time that they somehow mysteriously end up with our playbook.”

So, did Pettine just accuse Belichick and the Patriots of spying and/or cheating? Well yeah, pretty much.

'They think having an old playbook will help anyone? Wait until they see this new secondary and see how much an old playbook would help.' What we can only assume Rex Ryan would be laughing about today. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

The oddest part of that statement is actually the word mysterious. Maybe the Patriots have, at some point, come across an actual Jets playbook as Pettine says, but you know what? They don’t need to in order to get the playbook. Every team and coach in the NFL can get every other teams playbook simply by breaking down film and studying it. Not to mention numerous teams have repeatedly had their playbooks leaked online.

Stealing an actual playbook wouldn’t help anymore than breaking down film unless if it was a game specific playbook (and only helpful for that specific game) and/or you also knew the teams signals. Then there’s also the fact that Ryan’s playbooks have been described as being written in hieroglyphics.

The current defensive coordinator for the Jets, Dennis Thurman, was asked if he thought it would help an opposing team to have the Jets playbook and said, “No, you have to know what you’re looking at. You have to decode it but I don’t think so.”

Ryan was clearly aggravated by the quotes. He said he didn’t, “know what he’s (Pettine) trying to gain by it,” and seemed most upset about the implications of Saban conspiring against him and the notion that Belichick and the Patriots gained an unfair advantage. Ryan praised Belichick repeatedly and said to suggest that any success he’s had didn’t come on his own merit is disrespectful and ridiculous.

“Again it’s an old playbook, absolutely. It doesn’t have specific things. When you get into it, there’s not specific numbers. There’s not all this. Everything changes. Like I said, each week is totally different and I could show you examples of it. Every time we play New England, the game plan is totally different each week.” Ryan said, “Each time you play them, them specifically. That’s part of the chess match. So if you think that we’re just going to go out and dial in, here’s what we did two years ago, or whatever, that’s not the case.

“If you study your opponent, it’s based on film preparation, (it) is based on your study. That’s where it comes (from). It’s not about anything else. That’s where the preparation is. You study your opponent and to discredit somebody, especially a guy like Belichick, who is a real coach, studies his butt off, I think it’s ridiculous.”

Still according to Bedard ‘Double O Pettine’ insists he knows of this conspiracy because this one time, “at Wes Welker’s wedding, Tom Brady bragged a little bit to Jets outside linebackers coach Mike Smith, who was Welker’s college roommate, that the Patriots may or may not have had possession of a couple of Jets defensive playbooks.”

Maybe there’s some context missing from the article, but that certainly doesn’t sound like concrete evidence. Has no one considered that Brady was just joking? Or maybe Smith exaggerated? Or Pettine simply heard what he wanted to hear?

That one quote by itself is odd enough, but instead of leaving it at that Pettine then took a shot at both his ex-boss (and the reason he has a job in the NFL) and the king of college coaching Saban.

“It didn’t shock me because Rex would give them out like candy anyway.” Pettine said, “He gave one out to Saban and I was like, ‘Don’t you know Saban and Bill are pretty good friends? I have a feeling it’s going to end up in New England.”

It’s not a direct shot at Ryan, but he’s certainly undermining his old boss in order to prop himself up. Pettine is explaining why he’s keeping his playbook so slim by implying Ryan was too loose with sharing his playbook then he breaks out the ‘Jump to Conclusions’ mat and connects the dots for you by saying of course it was Saban.

Yes, Saban and Belichick are good friends, everyone knows this including Ryan, and it’s also rare to see anyone actually defend Saban but that’s a damn strong accusation to make with absolutely nothing but a friendship to offer as proof. So, now he not only took a shot at his old boss and accused Belichick of cheating but he basically implied Saban was working as a double-agent in befriending Ryan just so he could steal his playbook and give it to Belichick.

Pettine sounds ridiculous and paranoid and considering all the rumors of him being the leak inside the Jets organization Ryan seems to be getting tired of his old friend’s nonsense. Ryan made sure to say there’s no animosity between the two, but he was obviously irked by these quotes.

“Well there is a couple of things that tick me off. The thing about, number one, in this business you do share information with people that you’re close with. Nick Saban is a friend of mine as well.” Ryan said, “So, are there other coaches that I’ve helped along the way? Absolutely and vice-versa, so I have received some things as well. I think that ticks me off, and then the insinuation, almost that you look in to it that New England had an advantage. They never had an advantage. They never had an advantage when we’ve played them, ever. It’s just they’ve outperformed us. The times that they’ve beat us, they outperformed us. And it’s as simple as that.”

Progress in the secondary

As for actual practice, today was all about the secondary clicking. The quarterbacks made mistakes and the secondary took advantage of said mistakes. Dee Milliner, Dexter McDougle and Calvin Pryor all made numerous pass deflections and interceptions and showed a ton of progress during the last minicamp practice.

“There is a lack of experience that shows up at times, but the talent is there. We know that we have guys that can play.” Thurman said, “We just have to make sure that we communicate the things that we are supposed to do. If we do that I think we’ll be fine.”

The first team secondary throughout camp has been, Milliner and Dimitri Patterson on the outside, Kyle Wilson as the nickel and Antonio Allen and Calvin Pryor as the safeties. Yesterday Ryan said he’s been giving Allen and Pryor the first-team reps because he wants them to get the experience and he already knows he can trust Dawan Landry.

“Well, I want to give the majority of the group to the young players, because I think Dawan can go in there, he can coach the defense. He can teach it, he can play it, but obviously he’s got to get enough reps to where we feel comfortable about that as well. But he’s a young man that really, like I said, you can plug him in and be ready to go at any time.” Ryan said, “But I think the other two guys you can’t buy experience and that’s kind of what I’m trying to do. Give them all the experience they can get, but obviously Dawan is going to be a major contributor for us and we want those young safeties as well.”

The competition at safety is similar to the quarterback competition. There is technically a competition, but most get the feeling that the Jets really want the young guys to get the job. They’ll still have to earn it, but if the competition is remotely close they’ll choose the young guys and hope they consistently improve.

When asked if he expects Pryor to claim a starting job by the time the season starts Thurman said, “Well, we will answer that after training camp, but he’s a talented kid, we drafted him number one. We feel like he can bring a lot to our secondary, so we’ll see.”

The other member of the secondary that continues to turn heads is rookie Dexter McDougle. The coaches were impressed with McDougle before the red no-contact jersey came off but he has only become more impressive since it’s removal.

“I think he is everything we thought he was going to be. He is a young, talented kid, he is very serious, (and) he loves football.” Thurman said, “There are some guys that you look at them and you say, ‘alright, he was built to play this position.’ McDougle was built to play corner.”

Patterson currently has the edge to start opposite of Milliner week one, should he stay healthy, but McDougle (who has been taking most of his reps at outside corner and Patterson is also capable of moving inside) is clearly on his heels and Patterson has looked good himself it’s just that McDougle has looked that good and never seems to be out of place.

“McDougle I’ve really been impressed with. I think we all saw today, what did he have two picks today or something like that?” Ryan said, “This young man is here to compete and challenge, so he’s been impressive.”

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