Thursday Camp Report: Buckets of Rain
Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan had a wealth of information and opinions to share following an encouraging Thursday practice, where the team successfully dealt with adverse weather conditions, battling the element of precipitation. “I never really counted on this… but it was a great opportunity because you got to be able to throw a wet football… you got to hold on to that thing,” said the second year coach. Being the Jets play in an open air Stadium on the Northeast, capably adjusting to the whims of nature is a necessity. In fact, with their ball control philosophy, the Jets have been practically designed to withstand aerial derailing conditions. Never too early to experience what could be a raw reality at anytime during the regular season, or beyond.
Ryan was enthused about veteran running back LaDainian Tomlinson’s desire to score a touchdown at the goal line, amid the downpour and in the face of an offensive and defensive dog pile. “It was great to see LaDainian tell the offense, ‘hey listen, don’t worry about it… I’ll put it right over the top.’ He was all excited going in there…. But then we fumble the snap. I was like, ‘God I wanted him to score so bad, he was so passionate about it.” Tomlinson is a prolific touchdown machine. Even amid a 2009 where his statistics plummeted, the future hall of famer still managed to wrack up twelve tallies. Reaching the paint is probably second nature to Tomlinson at this juncture, a strength not lost on his head coach. “He really is a great goal-line, short yardage runner. You look at the numbers [he’s had] in the past. And that’s critical. Remember Thomas [Jones] last year did a tremendous job in that area.” Ryan is seeing nothing but positive signs from the redemption seeking running back. “You know what you were going to get – as soon as you met with him for five minutes, you know what you were going to get. Just that competitive… you can’t be that great and not have that competitive fighting spirit… our doctors never wanted him to take the conditioning test, but he absolutely refused, said ‘No, I’m definitely doing it.’ He’s ready, there’s no doubt.”
It was a positive session for returning nose-tackle Kris Jenkins, whose health could determine whether this defense is compared with contemporary units, or among more legendary company. [Well, his health and the return of a certain missing cornerback] “It was a nice, physical practice,” said Ryan, before adding, “Big Jenk was wrecking things in there… he’s doing really well.”
Unsurprisingly, Ryan was practically in a state of reverie while discussing the vagaries of goal-line practice, hardly discouraged by the tempest. Quite the opposite actually, the Head Coach seemed positively emboldened by the convulsion. “The only way you can practice goal-line is to go full [contact]… It actually worked out great… if you’re going to have this kind of weather, who cares? Put it down there and let’s see what happens. Because there’s no hiding in the goal line… You’re either a hitter or you’re not, guys are going at it, somebody’s going to get knocked back or you’re going to get knocked back.”
It’s no secret to Jets fans, or any other football connoisseurs for that matter, that New York possesses one of the deepest and most talented receiving corps in the league. The savvy reacquisition of Laveranues Coles, to pick up the slack for temporarily suspended newcomer Santonio Holmes, only strengthens the unit. Ryan is certainly appreciative of the talent compiled by free wheeling General Manager Mike Tannenbaum, who has totally reconstructed the receiving depth chart since last season. “This is a deep, deep group,” said Ryan, “and clearly we are going to throw the ball effectively… but our philosophy is ground and pound, so if you want to put more guys to cover our wide-outs because of the kind of talent we have, then we’re going to run the ball at you. If you want to come down and put nine guys down there… we’re going to beat you quick with the pass.”
No real news on the Revis front, but Ryan did defend his tendency to exalt his players before the press.“I’ve stated all along the kind of player I think Darrelle is… people want to throw it in our face, ‘you shouldn’t say it.’ The tape doesn’t lie.”
Linebacker Bart Scott didn’t have any rainy day blues. “I love it,” said Scott. “Football is an all weather game. Whenever you can play on the muddy field in the rain, it takes you back to your Pee Wee days.” Scott was in total agreement with his coach about the importance of the goal line drill. “I love it. That’s where a man comes out. You can really point out the non-physical guys on your team and get rid of them. This is all about dropping the sack and who’s bigger.”
He also shared extremely interesting analysis of key rookie lineman Vladimir Ducasse, who may replace departed veteran Alan Faneca. “You just have to light his young (expletive) up,” said Scott regarding Ducasse. “You teach him by making him break. You tell him things like whenever he was pulling, he would sit off the ball. His weight was (on) his heals. That’s an indication that he is doing that to clear himself so he won’t run into the center (to) pull. Those types of things, after you defeat him and smack him around a little bit, you send it to him in a text message,” finished Scott with a laugh. Tough lessons in training camp…*
* You just know I wanted to throw in a “Hard Knocks” pun right there. Cringe! Got to love it.