Jets unbeaten in pre-season, but many problems persist

August 17th, 2014

CINCINNATI, OH — Another game and another win for the New York Jets in the 2014 NFL preseason. But a 2-0 start will not dissipate the firestorm of questions at Cornerback nor the secondary for the Jets.

A two touchdown deficit for Gang Green turned into 22 unanswered points as the Jets avoided an encore of October 27, 2013 (the day which marked the worst point margin loss of the Rex Ryan tenure – 40 points in a 49-9 forgetful loss at Paul Brown Stadium).

Many roster based questions to be answered for Jets GM John Idzik (Left) and Head Coach Rex Ryan (Right) (Jetsinsider.com Photo)

After their conquest in Cincinnati, there remains leery concern about the offense, confidence in the front seven but worry on how Gang Green will ultimately go forward in filling the holes in the back end of the defense.

It started almost eerily similar to that October late afternoon when Bengals Quarterback Andy Dalton had a career day en route to connecting with Wide Receiver Marvin Jones on Five touchdown on the day — no that is not a misprint Jets fans.

Saturday evening was almost no different as before departing the game, Dalton finished with a flawless stat line — 8 for 8 on pass attempts, 144 passing yards on 1 touchdown pass to Mohamed Sanu.

Dalton shone through effectively shredded the Jets’ secondary with a no huddle quick paced offense beating the secondary constantly over the top and around the edges.

Antonio Allen despite only being targeted once in his first career action as a Cornerback and the embattled Kyle Wilson were picked on by arguably the best receiver in the NFL, A.J. Green and Sanu — to the tune of 3 receptions for 69 yards (23 yards per recption on 3 targets) for Green and 2 receptions for 56 yards (28 yards per reception on 2 targets) for Sanu.

After the game Rex Ryan critique his injury-riddled secondary by saying — “Andy Dalton looked like a $100 million Quarterback.”

When facing the Bengals starters in the game, Cincinnati scored two touchdowns and a field goal in three series on the Jets. Kyle Wilson continues to struggle playing the nickel giving up a 43-yard touchdown reception to Sanu as Dawan Landry came late on the deep help. Dee Milliner’s health is needed by the team now more than ever as the Jets head toward the benchmark third game of preseason action.

Some good news in the midst of all the first-team defensive struggles was the emergence of the ‘Louisville Slugger’, Calvin Pryor in his NFL debut. The rookie first-round safety made his impact know early and often.

From recovering a strip-sack fumble on his 3rd NFL play by fellow teammate Demario Davis to hammering Bengals receiver Cobi Hamilton on a pass play; the flying around and big hits were what the team envisioned when they selected the Louisville product 18th overall in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Pryor did not get a chance to start and was eased in his first real-time game action, but he did get some work with the first team (which played the entire first half) despite not going up against the tough combination of Dalton & Green.

Chris Johnson, formerly of ‘CJ2k’ artistry, was a positive displaying some of his old burst. 63 yards on 10 carries running out of the pistol formation found holes through the middle and out on the corner edges. The running backs were a position of strength which told a lot about the o-line’s performance despite the alarming number of penalties that they accrued.

12 Penalties in total for 133 yards, including a whopping seven personal fouls mostly committed by the offensive line combo of Breno Giacomini, Brian Winters and Willie Colon. They showed flashes playing with a nasty edge and chip on their shoulders, but at times the aggression was costly as they lost their cool in scuffles early and often.

Geno Smith did not do anything with his play to create any noise around a scarce semblance of a Quarterback controversy around the Jets. Playing the entire first half for a total of 31 plays, Geno’s only glaring mistake was a miscommunication with receiver David Nelson which was picked off  by the Bengals’ Terrence Newman.

Smith did use his head and legs at times of pressure against Cincy’s D, continuing what made him very successful last December –making good decisions to spark the offense and checking down to second and third reads from the pocket and running when it was necessary to.

He was 10 for 13 overall for 98 yards in 6 series for two touchdowns and a field goal to pull the Jets within one (17-16, the extra point attempt was no good). Michael Vick was 5 for 9 for 70 yards and a 17-yard touchdown pass to Clyde Gates which took the lead for good.

Notes

Rookie wideout Jalen Saunders is still in the hospitall according to Head Coach Rex Ryan

Rookie IK Enemkpali blocked a punt out of the end zone for the safety, (first since 2010) which made the final score 25-17. He’s been making impact plays each week on special teams making it increasingly difficult for the team to cut him

Cornerback Ras I-Dowling ruled out with a groin injury

Jets used Winters at RG and Aboushi at RT rotating them after Aboushi started for Winters at LG

Star wideout Eric Decker was a late scratch against the Bengals (Quad)

Cumberland missed the action with an (Achilles) injury

Chris Ivory did not play due to his ribs

Bilal Powell had a nice cutback on his 2-yard touchdown run in the second quarter

Quinton Coples was noticeably on the sidelines for a few series

The Jets (2-0) will be the host against inter-stadium rival Giants (3-0) in the annual battle of New York preseason contest at Metlife Stadium on Friday August 22

The Road From Cortland to Cincinnati

August 14th, 2014

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — The second phase of camp has turned to the Jets finishing up their annual portion of training camp in Cortland, NY. The team now heads to Paul Brown Stadium to face off against another playoff team from last season in the defending AFC North champion Bengals.

Sheldon Richardson vows for the Jets D' to have a different outcome this time around in Cincinnati (Jetsinsider.com photo)

Geno on the spot

When the Jets acquired Michael Vick in free agency many people thought he’d have a legitimate shot to win the job. However through camp the team has shown otherwise despite what’s been called an open competition numerous times by GM John Idzik and Head Coach Rex Ryan.

The Jets’ brass drafted Smith in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft to be the ‘guy’. Smith made a big leap forward in his the final four games of his rookie year.

For Geno, the greatest thing the team wants to see from him is consistency. In order to further consistent play from him it begins with the ‘others’ around him. Is it there with Eric Decker? Can the Jets run the football behind him with Chris Ivory & Johnson? Can Marty Morningweg design the offense to get people open in space.

Before those questions can be answered, the Quarterback answered another — overcoming less than ideal conditions. Battling ugly weather this week in Cortland has been a benefit to the offense, as Geno Smith told nyjets.com — the elements were helpful for insight and preparation to the kinds of scenarios the team could have to play through this season.

“Any time we get in the red zone, guys are animated just because our offensive linemen and defensive linemen take pride in that, getting in the end zone,” Smith said. “It was very animated. I think the weather kind of boosted everyone up a little bit.”

Bengal’ revenge

Although its preseason, don’t tell that to the Jets who want to bounce back from the worst loss in Rex Ryan’s tenure on October 27, losing by 40 to the same team they’ll see Saturday night.

Time to hit the ‘big leagues’

Safety turned Cornerback Antonio Allen is slated to start for the Jets’ on Saturday. His first test? Against all-pro Wideout, the Bengals’ A.J. Green.

Coach Rex Ryan has confidence in Allen’s ability to hold his own adding “If Allen can effectively cover Green, he can cover them all.”

Allen’s versatility gives the team belief that he can hold down the fort until Dee Milliner returns from injury. Allen, was once a hybrid linebacker at South Carolina, prior to being drafted in the seventh round by the Jets in 2012.

When teammates go out in front of you, it’s an opportunity to step up and for Allen there’s on bigger challenge than going up against one of the league’s best.

ALS Challenge

The Jets’ became the latest NFL team to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge mania which has swept the nation. The Cortlandville Fire Department supplied the materials to help drench the team with cold water as fans in attendance cheered on.

Ironically the Jets were nominated for the ALS Challenge by their greatest in recent years, the New England Patriots. On being chosen for ice cold water treatment on a summer afternoon, Rex Ryan appreciated the Patriots choice.

“Anytime you get issued a challenge by New England, we’re going to accept that challenge,” Ryan said.

The Jets have nominated the team’s flight crew to continue the nationwide challenge and awareness effort for ALS.

Notes

According to Bengals.com, Head Coach Marvin Lewis said at practice Thursday that Quarterback Andy Dalton is going to play around 15 to 25 snaps (First quarter plus) against the Jets and its doubtful that backup Jason Campbell plays this week

This will be the first time the Jets play the Bengals in Cincinnati since the Bengals defeated Gang Green 49-9 in October

With the players and NFLPA lobbying for just two preseason games, training camps of the future may include fewer games and more intersquad scrimmages (like the ones we’ve seen the Cowboys partake in with the Raiders and Patriots employ with the Eagles and Redskins)

Jets remain optimistic amid Cornerback woes

August 11th, 2014

CORTLAND, NY — With news of Dexter McDougle’s torn ACL, Dimitri Patterson battling calf and ankle ailments in pads working with trainers and now Dee Milliner’s high-ankle sprain rendering him in a walking boot and out for the next 3-4 weeks, the current state of the Jets secondary is less than ideal.

Which is why much attention and eyes have turned to Jets GM John Idzik and his decision in the off-season not to get a more established veteran name in free agency; with the team reportedly having $21.7M in cap room according to espnnewyork.com.

All eyes on Jets' GM John Idzik's plans to aide recent secondary woes (JetsInsider.com Photo)

“I don’t think immediate spending translates into winning,” Idzik said to reporters after practice. “I think responsible spending translates into sustainable winning.”

To reiterate his stance on how he felt when asked about not signing established free-agent cornerbacks this offseason —  he replied, “We have no regrets whatsoever.”

While Dee Milliner’s status remains uncertain for Week 1, the Jets tried a new attempt at finding some semblance of normalcy at the position — through trying out Safety Antonio Allen along with Ellis Lankster at Corner back during practice.

Allen came in and performed immensely well grabbing two interceptions on the day. He was able to run step for step down the sideline flanking Stephen Hill as an outside Corner back.

From the top, the Jets continue to show unwavering confidence in their ability to weather the storm and overcoming the bevy of challenges that’s come the way of the backend of the defense.

“This is going to work,” said Coach Rex Ryan. “One thing we know for a fact is this is going to be an outstanding defense.”

And coming off being the 19th ranked defense scoring defense  and 22nd in passing yards allowed last season, one concern with the secondary is that teams will be looking to spread the ball out with max receiver formations against the Jets’ defense. In any fashion from short outs, curls and over the top.

Notes

Jets owner Woody Johnson for the first time in Cortland appeared at camp

The team plans on working out free agent Cornerbacks (like four-time Pro Bowler Asante Samuel?) as a contingent plan

Eric Decker (quad) took part in positional drills, but sat out team drills

Jets RB Chris Ivory is still unsure if he’ll play vs Bengals on Saturday

C Nick Mangold, who missed previous practices on paternity leave, was back at practice

Today was mascot day at Jets practice as the team hosted nine college mascots

Second round of training camp

August 9th, 2014

CORTLAND, NY —  After every first game of the preseason kicks off the transition into the next phase of preparation for week one of the NFL season.

Hard to believe its already been 17 days in Cortland, but the Jets were back in action after their compelling 13-10 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night.

The shift in focus at camp now turns to six days of preparation before Gang Green travels to Cincinnati to face off against the Bengals in week 2 of the preseason.

The Jets although victorious, emerged from the game a bit banged up losing Chris Ivory in the game to a rib injury and already dealing with Bilal Powell missing the game due to a hamstring ailment.

After preseason games, the focus usually turns to any lineup changes and adjustments that coaches may make due to notable impacts in performances from hotly contested position battles.

The Tim Tebow era is back! Well not quite. Two years later the Jets’ are finally implenting the wildcat package into its offense as what the team is calling a routine installation in training camp preparation. Despite running only two read-option plays in the opener, the Jets used the wildcat scarcely last season as a change of pace dynamic.

Jets turn focus to Bengals after defeating Colts in preseason opener (JetsInsider.com photo)

Perhaps the most telling event from Thursday’s action was the Jets secondary. With both Darrelle Revis’s high profile departure along with Antonio Cromartie now in the desert and the team drafting Dee Milliner high in the first round to be the replacement for ‘Revis Island’, there is pressure for the Jets’ to find an adequate sidekick for Milliner.

Dimitri Patterson’s debut was less than stellar on that front, giving up a 45 yard reception and 2 catches for 60 yards on the day. His play magnified a first drive where Andrew Luck completed four of five passes for 53 yards on his only series despite a bad shotgun snap at the Jets’ goal line (which led to a Colts field goal).

Third-round pick Dexter McDougle, as a result of Patterson sitting out with calf and ankle injuries took the majority of first-team reps at corner, but don’t expect this to last as after practice Coach Rex Ryan said he expects Patterson to overcome his early struggles and be at his best when the season begins.

First-round pick Calvin Pryor, sat out the opener at Metlife recovering from a concussion but he worked with the second team defense today and impacted practice almost coming up with an interception.

Taking things lightly was theme for today as Chris Ivory was on the field in shorts, not pads. Participating in limited fashion in walk-throughs but not in team drills. Eric Decker did not practice because of a nagging quadriceps injury, Chris Johnson rested through team drills and Alex Green got many of his reps.

Great news from Jets camp as pro bowl mainstay, Center Nick Mangold was excused from practice for personal reasons (his wife gave birth!).

Jets return to action

August 4th, 2014

CORTLAND, NY — With the first preseason action of the 2014 season set to kick off in less than three days, the Jets find themselves back at MetLife Stadium hosting a home game for the first time since December against the Colts this Thursday.

Coming off of the annual green and white scrimmage with Gang Green’s offense facing off against its defensive counterparts, for players like rookie Calvin Pryor, getting back into the fold of practice after extended time off was an adjustment on the day (albeit in limited fashion).

“I felt a little rusty. I feel a little rusty, but it was good to be back in there with the guys, getting in making some of the checks, making sure you’re on top of everything,” said Pryor.

Rookies like Calvin Pryor adjust to daily grind of NFL action (jetsinsider.com photo)

Both he and the team are taking a day-by-day approach as far as his status for the preseason opener against the Colts. As far as his progression, Pryor does not expect any unforseen setbacks.

“I think I’ll be fine from here on out, I’ll Just keep checking in with the doctors, making sure I’m good to go,” Pryor said.

To avoid falling behind in defensive schemes, Pryor has his way of staying in the game while being inactive.

“Just making sure I’m attentive in all the meeting. Making sure I ask questions to all my coaches and my teammates. Just get my mental reps. I’m not out there physically but I can still be there mentally. It’s important I keep asking questions and making sure I’m on top of everything.”

Even for young players the learning curve of an NFL playbook takes it toll, but when asked if the injury so early on in his career would affect his play, Pryor pointedly responded “No, not at all.”

The first depth chart of the summer was announced today, no surprise as Geno Smith was named the starting quarterback for Gang Green. According to nyjets.com there is a ‘three-headed monster’ at running back, as Bilal Powell,  Chris Johnson and Ivory are all listed under the first team.

Opposing defenses will see a lot of the trio this season, mostly Ivory on goal line and short yardage situations, Johnson on receiving and 1st down routes and Powell as the change of pace back to wear defenders down.

As of course with first releases of depth charts, things are still very preliminary as the best tight end on the roster performance wise, Zach Sudfield – who’s been the best tight end on the roster for the Jets’ in camp, remains listed as a third-stringer.

What’s happening after a week of Jets’ camp

August 1st, 2014

CORTLAND, NY — A week into the Jets’ holding training camp at SUNY Cortland, second-round pick, rookie tight end Jace Amaro continues to battle injury, the playbook and his own hands at times thus far in camp.

The saving grace of these developments have been the one pleasant surprise at camp that Jets fans have clamored for in the emergence of ‘Baby Gronk’.

Zach Sudfeld coming into camp presumably slotted in as the third-string tight end behind incumbent Jeff Cumberland (26 catches and 4 touchdowns) and Amaro. But after catching another long touchdown pass in camp, he continues to turn heads in Cortland and is building momentum toward possibly claiming the starting tight end spot down the road.

Is Zach Sudfeld finally living up to the 'Baby Gronk' hype? (Jetsinsider.com photo)

Although newly acquired veteran pass-rusher Jason Babin has not missed a practice since joining Gang Green on July 25. According to espnnewyork.com’s Rich Cimini, Babin at some point hopes the Jets are able to accommodate him by setting up a similar schedule with the team as he had with the Jaguars.

With Jacksonville Babin was given an off day every three days in training camp as well as every Wednesday off during the regular season in order to preserve the wear and tear on his body.

After practice Babin elaborated on why this would make him a more valuable asset to the team this year.

“I felt great when the season ended because they gave me ample time to recover,” Babin said of the Jaguars, who cut him in June. “When you get old in your career, the recovery time is always an issue. It’s not something I’ve brought up with Rex [Ryan] yet, but he knows. He obviously takes care of older guys. He’s a player’s coach. I’m not concerned. I know he’ll take care of me.”

Jets nation can breather a sigh of relief, temporarily at least as first-round pick, rookie Safety Calvin Pryor, was back out on the field. Pryor wore a red non-contact jersey, but seeing him back out working with his teammates participating in drills is encouraging that signs of a near concussion scare are over.

Utah’s Trevor Reilly, the team’s seventh-round pick is breaking through as another potential unsung hero this year. Reilly’s been all over the field, having flashes of playmaking ability and is making a good case for himself to make the 53-man roster as a special teams enforcer or as a backup linebacker. Not a bad deal for the Jets considering where he was taken in April.

Michael Vick also did not receive any reps with the first-team offense for the first time in camp which furthers drives home the reality of the starting quarterback job to be Geno Smith’s to lose.

Vick has stated on numerous occasions during camp that he would not get in the way of Geno’s starting role, but he had a humorous response to being asked after practice about whether the quarterback battle was already decided.

As for Geno, full reps are giving him ample opportunity to make advances as a signal caller in his second year.

“As many reps as you can get will help you out, and I’m a living testament to that,” he said. “I can just see the growth in myself and in the guys around me due to that.”

At some point in training-camp, fans, players and coaches tune in more intently when the team works on goal-line drills. The winner of the drill on day seven was the defense, as out of ten snaps, the defense stopped the offense short of the end zone on eight of the attempts. These are good signs for the defense which has it fair share of dominant moments in Cortland thus far.

Pads Pop On Day 3 of Training Camp

July 26th, 2014

CORTLAND, NY – Full Pads!

The third time’s a charm and such was the case in Cortland today as the New York Jets finally put on the pads for practice at SUNY Cortland’s Stadium Complex.

The fans were out and considerably louder, chanting the traditional J-E-T-S, JETS! JETS! JETS! rally cry heard in MetLife Stadium for home games.

Second year player Rontez Miles thrived with getting more reps and enjoyed the increased fan presence.

“It was loud man, a lot of people woke up today, the competition even excelled today. It’s football everyday but with the pads on there’s more excitement to it but we’re just trying to get better and keep everybody safe,” Miles said.

Geno Smith getting the bulk of the reps at Jets Camp (Jetsinsider.com photo)

Drills, drills and more drills was the focal point of day 3 on a humid morning and afternoon at training camp. The quarterbacks Geno Smith, Michael Vick and Tajh Boyd were giving out calls, defensive players were pointing out changes in the offense’s signals while defensive linemen were working on sled drills with stripping the ball from the quarterback as the main point of emphasis.

Safety Antonio Allen, who is heading into his third NFL season, felt it was good to get back into the routine.

“Man it was great getting back into pads, hearing the players clapping for every drill, guys competing getting after it,” Allen said. “Just trying to get better every day man.”

Full pads at practice marks an unofficial annual rite of passage that begins the NFL season for teams and its players.

Offensive players for Gang Green donned white jerseys, defensive players wore green jerseys, quarterbacks wore red and special teams players wore orange helmets during punting and kicking drills.

Let’s play ball

Dawan Landry started things off with a huge hit on Chris Ivory, thus setting up a day of revamped intensity.

There was a stout effort from the front-four of the Jets’ as they clogged the middle and forced the offense to find successful gains running to the outside edges.

Bilal Powell had a breakaway run on third-down of the offense’s first possession which was followed by Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison overpowering Powell immediately after.

The full-contact action began with running drills, with the quarterback and wide receiver drills being split from the offensive and defensive line/linebacker/secondary groups.

Quarterback Geno Smith – After practice broke down his performance:

Positives – Changing plays at the line audibly with more comfort at the line

“Being in my second year I have a better grasp of the offense and better grasp of things that I like to get into as far as checks when I see certain looks,” Smith said.” “I try to take advantage of those things in practice so that I’ve built that rapport right now with the guys so that when we get in games we can do that as well and hopefully more and more.”

Negatives – felt he could never be too precise with throws and footwork, but with three days in it’s hard to pinpoint things.

“Everything needs to get better, I’m not going to sit here and say we’ve cornered the market with the offense,” Smith said.

Missing from the action

Although the level of play picked up, there were some precautionary measures taken.

Rookie safety Calvin Pryor was taken out of Saturday’s practice with a head injury in part from being a punt protector.

“It was a head injury and obviously when those things happen you’re going to side on being cautious and that’s what we’re doing,” coach Rex Ryan said. “Whether it’s a concussion or not I’m not sure. We’ll see how that progresses.”

Chris Johnson, had planned rest and did not participate in contact drills, sitting out on day 3. Johnson, coming off offseason knee surgery for a torn meniscus is treading lightly and easing his way back.

On the other side of the action, there were some light scuffles in camp, highlighted by two rookies (LB Jeremiah George, #53 and WR Michael Campbell, #18 exchanging brief pleasantries.)

Notes/Great plays

Geno Smith with a sharp effort overall – Getting the bulk of the snaps (about 75 percent of the reps in practice).

Geno’s also getting the ball out of his hands quickly while making the proper reads. If he doesn’t find his man he’s checking down and taking off from the pocket.

Clyde Gates making a case to make the final 53-man Jets’ roster – Turbo speed from him thus far in camp and Vick found him on a beautiful deep ball for a touchdown

Jaiquawn Jarrett, has had a tremendous impact in camp – already with a pick he added a forced fumble on tight end Chris Pantale to his takeaway total.

Bilal Powell very elusive especially on outside runs, using a combination of jukes and spins to gain separation from defenders.

Antonio Allen broke up a nice zip pass from Geno to Jace Amaro, the team’s second round pick at tight end.

Rookie WR Michael Campbell wore interesting gloves – two shades of green (divided by one dark and one light) in spider-man pattern.

Rookie WR Shaquelle Evans out of UCLA, #83, has emerged as a rising force here in training camp. He beat fellow rookie, CB, Brandon Dixon, #42 on a deep ball thrown from another rookie Clemson’ QB Tajh Boyd, #3.

Going towards the first preseason game against the Colts on Aug 7, Allen has one goal in mind.

“I want to have my name out there as one of the best safeties in the league. The defense is striving to the best in many categories and just get after it, talking isn’t going to get it done just have to do it with our play,” said Allen.

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