Transcript of head coach Rex Ryan's news conference following Thursday's midday OTA practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center :
Today’s practice, really what you guys saw today is kind of how it’s been going. Some of the practices you have missed and all that. Guys flying around, taking care of each other, but the competition has been good. I like the speed with how we’re playing, in particular on defense. I think we look fast, and obviously the physical skills of our players are one thing, but I think the communication — and it should be this way being the fifth year in the system, albeit five or six new guys out there — but I like the way the communication is going on defense.We did have one major hiccup. I think we turned a guy loose. Other than that, it’s going really well. We got a lot of stuff in on defense and I think we’re really ahead of the game that way and they’re playing fast. That’s where I really want to return to our roots, playing fast, the type of tempo we play with, the type of mentality, and dictate more to the offense than the other way around. I think at some point I felt that we kind of worried about matchups more than having the offense worry about the matchups we present on defense, so we’re trying to do that a little bit more.
Also, it’s not like we’re the most vanilla team on offense either. We have a ton of different personnel groupings out there, four-wides, five-wides, a tight end, two tight ends, two receivers. There’s all kinds of stuff out there. So that’s been fun.The competition’s been good. This is the first day we were in the red zone in the 7-on-7. The good news is we threw the two touchdown passes. The bad news is both were deflected. We’ll take that for whatever it’s worth [laughing].But you expect the defense, obviously, to be ahead right now. They are. We have some of our receivers sidelined, obviously [Santonio] Holmes. Stephen Hill came back, so that’s good to see. Hopefully we’ll have [Clyde] Gates back soon because he was looking good. Jeff Cumberland had a baby, so that’s good. He wasn’t out there today.Other than that, things are going pretty well. We’re progressing along. We’re firing a lot of stuff at them. The challenge to these guys is as you install you have to remember. You can’t install something and it goes through one ear and everything else goes out the other. It’s not about the three or four plays that you’re putting in, but you have to remember all the other ones. I think they’ve done a pretty good job of that.
On David Garrard’s retirement and its impact on the dynamic of the quarterback competition…
I don’t know how much it changes the dynamic, I guess with the one major exception, with the reps he was going to get are shifted out differently now. It was something that, obviously, with David, that he had two years off. But when we brought him in for the workout, the physical, we thought, "Let’s give this a shot."Obviously, we knew he wasn’t going to be the same guy that he was eight years ago, but he was impressive. In the workout, he was impressive. There’s no question. We were excited about him. For him to get in there and compete, we thought that would be a good thing. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. It’s just one of those things where sometimes before the skill level leaves you, it’s the fact it’s harder to recover. When you get older, obviously, it’s harder to recover and I kind of think that’s what it was compared to everything else.I certainly appreciate what David did in the short time he was with us. He’s really a tremendous person. I remember competing against him. He was an excellent quarterback and a great competitor. But I certainly appreciate him, his professionalism and everything else he showed when he was here.
On if Garrard was expected to vie for the starting spot…
There was always going to be competition. That’s the thing. We weren’t going to say, "He’s going to start." And that fact hasn’t changed. There’s competition. Were we bringing him in to compete? Sure, certainly, but it’s not like we’re surprised that there would be a chance that this would happen, that he wouldn’t be able to get through. It wasn’t that we were blindsided by the fact he felt he couldn’t play anymore.
On Mark Sanchez playing with the first-team offense and if Smith will have an opportunity…
We’ve actually flip-flopped some days. We actually had Geno [Smith] running with the ones a day you guys weren’t out there. Again, there is going to be competition for this job, there’s no doubt. It’s not clear-cut that this guy is the starting quarterback. The guy is going to have to earn it no matter who it is. And that’s at all positions. With that being said, we have flipped those guys in earlier practices.
On his evaluation of the quarterback competition…
Again, it’s so early in it, there’s really no "This guy is clearly going to win the job" and all that. We don’t even have the pads on, anything else. Clearly, it’s the early stages right now.
On Sanchez saying he has excelled this offseason and feels confident in his accuracy…
I think he’s done a nice job this offseason. I think he’s in great shape. Is he more accurate with the football? I’m not sure what the numbers will say. I really don’t know. But I feel he has a confidence about him. I feel his confidence, I don’t know how much left him, but last year I think it’s safe to say maybe some of his confidence was shaken a little bit. But I think he’s feeling good about himself. If he makes a statement like that, I think it’s an indication of how he feels about himself.
On the impact Sanchez’s confidence has on his ability to perform…
I think at that position, confidence is huge, I don’t think there is any doubt. I think there is only one other position where you'd better be as confident as at quarterback, maybe a couple, kicker being one, corner being another one. I think if you're short on confidence, you’re going to struggle.I feel really all the quarterbacks we have are confident guys. I don’t think there's any doubt about it. But again, we'll see how it goes. We know we have to improve on accuracy at the position. We have to improve eliminating turnovers and things like that. Obviously, I don’t know if you could ever eliminate them but that’s certainly the goal, to eliminate them. We have to do a great job at protecting the football. That’s something we’ve got to keep working on.I think we saw a little bit of it because sometimes just throwing an incompletion isn’t a bad thing to do. Sometimes that defense is going to be ahead of you and you’re going to get rid of it. Live to fight another down. It’s OK to punt. We've got to make sure that we understand that.
On if Sanchez has spent time with anyone to improve his confidence…
It wasn’t driven through the team. You would have to ask him. I don’t know if he is seeing somebody or not.
On how RB Mike Goodson has looked the last two practices…
I think you see the speed that he has. That’s what jumps out at me anyway. He had the ball in the open field a couple times. You see that acceleration he has, so that’s been impressive. Again with all the backs it’s like the big [Chris] Ivory kid, you sit back saying. well, we’ll get the pads on the kid and we’ll actually run the ball. It seems like we’re throwing it and throwing it and throwing it. So I don’t know how much you can evaluate the backs yet.But I watch him. He does a good job. He actually does a good job running some direct-snap stuff as well. Obviously he’s good out of the backfield as we know with his recent past with Oakland. He had 18 targets and 18 catches or something. So we know he can catch a football out of the backfield. His speed just jumps out at me.
On if Goodson seems distracted…
I haven’t seen anything that would indicate that he is.
On Sanchez’s statement that he doesn’t plan on losing the quarterback job and Smith’s statement that he would not consider being a backup a disappointment…
Well, again, that doesn’t mean Geno is not going to try to compete for the job. I think the big thing is being good teammates. You’ll have to ask Geno about it, I guess, but being supportive in whether if he wins the job, great, if he doesn’t, then that’s fine. But the guy’s going to have to win the job. Whoever it is is going to have to win it and earn it.I think that’s where it’s at, just like there’s competition at other spots. There’s competition at safety, there’s competition at corner, at this, at that. The good thing about this football team, I see this team really helping each other and encouraging each other and I think that’s a good thing. But at the end of the day from a competitive standpoint, yeah, you want to be the guy that gets the nod. And I don’t think there’s any doubt, whether Geno said that or not, I’m pretty sure he wants to win the job.
On Sanchez helping Smith out because he is confident in his ability…
I don’t know, I just see it as it’s a new system. Guys help each other. Greg McElroy helps everybody. That’s just the way it should be. We bring in [D-lineman] Antonio Garay to compete for a starting job. He hasn’t been able to practice. We know that. We draft a guy in the first round, well, he’s the 13th overall pick. All right, he’s in there almost until he proves otherwise. Yet I see him working with guys and all of them working with each other. You’ve got Kenrick [Ellis]. I put in a fast team, but the next day he’s picking it up.There’s competition amongst each other as well. We’ve got, and I always kid "Snacks" [D-lineman Damon Harrison] and Kenrick. Snacks beats him in a race, he wanted me to know it. He says, “Hey, by the way, I beat Kenrick in a race and here’s the proof of it, here’s the picture to prove it.” But there’s always that competition and you always drive each other, but you absolutely want 11 Jets that are out there. That’s the group you want to see succeed.
On how reassuring it is to see Calvin Pace out there…
Oh, man, that was a big signing for us because it’s not just that he’s kind of like the glue. We’re doing a lot of different things with him. We’re moving him all over the place. I don’t know if you guys saw him, he was playing corner on one play. He had plenty of depth, though. And then we threw an incompletion in the flat. That was good to see. So I’m like I don’t know how long it’s doing to take Calvin to take the deep third up here to make the tackle [joking].But we’re taking advantage of the fact that we have Calvin. He knows our system. Have we tweaked it? Absolutely. But we’re using him and it’s some of the techniques that you teach and all of that stuff he knows. You don’t have to say anything and that is reassuring, there’s no doubt.
On if rookie CB Dee Milliner will participate in minicamp…
I don’t know about minicamp. Certainly by training camp I anticipate him being out there. But I think in my personal opinion in the minicamps that would be too quick coming off the injury. I know he’s doing a great job in the training room, he’s doing a great job in the class room and all that. And the kid can’t wait to play.
On if he has noticed if rookie free-agent D-lineman Jake McDonough has stood out…
No, I have not ... no, I’m just kidding. In a way it’s true, I called him DeVito one time, so if that means anything. But no, the thing you look at, you recognize the size, the length of the kid. He certainly looks the part. He’s being coached by the best D-line coach in the league, in my opinion, and we’re really starting to see that.I think you’re seeing all our D-line starting to take off under Karl [DL coach Karl Dunbar]’s tutelage, and I’ll throw Jeff Weeks in there also because it’s his birthday. He’s 51 — all right, he looks 21 with all the acne and stuff that he’s got, but anyway he’s 51 [joking].But really, this young man, I like him. He’s tough, he competes. If he doesn’t make the team, it’s not because of his work ethic or anything else. He’s a hard-playing kid.
On if Goodson’s off-field issues caused red flags before signing him…
You know what, I really, and I’ve mentioned it before, I’m not really comfortable talking about the young man’s past and all that. I think letting everything sort out that way is probably the appropriate thing.
On Goodson’s past…
Again, we do our due diligence, so I’m sure we know about all of our players, not just Mike but all of our players.
On the defense being ahead of the offense and if that hurts Sanchez…
Well, again, that’s going to happen no matter who you’re out there with. You could have an entire team of Pro Bowlers but if our defense is playing the way it should be playing, which it is, we hope that our quarterbacks are, even on the practice field, not the only quarterback feeling the same thing. I think there’s a lot to be learned by that. Throwing the ball away is not a bad thing. It’s an incompletion but it’s certainly better than taking a sack or fumbling or throwing an interception. So I think you can learn a lot.And again, you’re working together, offense and defense. Our defense is not going to be a scout team, because we’re implementing a new system. Every year you try to improve what you’ve done and I think that’s what we’re doing on defense.Now, are there times when there are specific coverages you’re going to run? Absolutely. You want to see it versus this? You’ll see it. But for a full body of practice, it’s not going to happen. But again, I think just because you’re not hitting, he’s not throwing a completion or the quarterbacks aren’t completing every pass, a throwaway is not a bad thing.
On the relationship between the Jets organization and Joe Namath…
The thing I will mention about Joe Namath, not only with the Jets organization but the National Football League, he was huge, I think, for the popularity of our sport, with, obviously, the Super Bowl III victory. That was great. He was great for the game and things like that. Joe, just like anybody else, has the right to his opinion. For me personally, I’ve always respected and admired Joe Namath, as I’m sure every Jet fan has.Does it upset me that he will make comments or whatever ? I mean, I don’t always agree with his comments, that’s it. But he has a right to them and who am I to tell Joe Namath that you shouldn’t say this or you shouldn’t say that about us or any other topic ?
One of the Jets' most intriguing offseason additions is OLB Antwan Barnes, who is reunited with Rex Ryan after a five-year hiatus. If the Jets get the Barnes of 2011, when he recorded 11 sacks for the Chargers, their sagging pass rush will step up in class. If they get the '12 Barnes -- only three sacks -- it'll be disappointing.
Barnes, 28, said he feels revitalized because of his familiarity with Ryan and his system, and because he senses a huge opportunity."There's no limit to what I can do this year," Barnes said last week.Barnes played under Ryan with the Ravens in 2007 and 2008. He said the Jets tried to sign him during the post-lockout free agency period in the summer of 2011, but the Chargers needed an answer quickly and the Jets wanted him to hang tight because they were involved in the Nnamdi Asomugha bidding. Where have we heard that song before?
In 2011, Barnes posted terrific numbers. In 273 pass-rushing opportunities, he racked up 11 sacks and 29 quarterback hurries, according to ProFootballFocus.com -- one hurry per 9.4 rushes. In 2012, his playing time dropped considerably. The Chargers used a first-round pick on OLB Melvin Ingram and signed OLB Jarret Johnson, reducing Barnes' role. Barnes also missed some action due to a hamstring injury. He finished with only 140 pass rushes, three sacks and 10 hurries, per PFF -- one hurry per 14 rushes.
Barnes should get plenty of chances with the Jets. Even though he's not starting in the base defense -- Calvin Pace and Quinton Coples are the OLBs -- he's working with the No. 1 nickel package as a situational rusher."This is a great opportunity for me because they didn't go in the draft and try to find somebody," said Barnes, who signed a three-year, $4.05 million contract. "That gives confidence to me and Quinton to go out there and be pass rushers."
Two things can be said right off the bat about Jets DE Jake McDonough. He does his homework. And he takes inspiration wherever he finds it.Both of those traits come together when the rookie free agent from Iowa State channels Mike DeVito just a little bit.“Coming in here, I knew who wore No. 70 before I did,” McDonough told me this week. “I obviously checked into it. I know how Mike came in here as an undrafted rookie, just like me, and now he’s in Kansas City making a lot of money.“For me, coming in as a free agent, Mike’s story inspired me. Maybe I can follow in his footsteps.”
The connection with DeVito was solidified during some video review in a defensive meeting after an OTA practice.“I had made a play or something, and Rex said, ‘Attaboy, DeVito.’ “Head coach Rex Ryan admitted to the flashback.“This young man, I like him. He’s tough. He competes,” Ryan said recently. “You recognized the size, the length of the kid — he certainly looks the part.”
McDonough’s length is 6’5″. His weight, he wants any fan who checked out his ISU bio, is not 280, hasn’t been in a while, but is closer to 305-310. But that’s a good thing for how he’s being used these days.“I was a noseguard in college. Now I’m a defensive end,” he said. “I’m playing a whole new position — and I’m loving it. Learning from Mo [Muhammad Wilkerson, of course] he’s a heck of a guy to learn from. Especially watching film of him and seeing how he does things inspires me to perfect my craft.”McDonough did a fine job at his craft with the Cyclones. He didn’t miss a game his last three seasons, and after last season he was named Iowa State’s Defensive Lineman of the Year and was a first-teamer on the Big 12 coaches’ all-conference team.Even more inspiration these days comes from DL coach Karl Dunbar, assisted by Jeff Weeks. Dunbar’s unit is starting to round into the kind of impact group he was known for when he coached with the Vikings.“Karl’s the best D-line coach in the league, in my opinion,” Ryan said. “And I think you’re seeing all our linemen starting to take off under Karl’s tutelage.”
Needless to say, there won’t be a lot of loose spots on the 53-man roster come Sept. 8. But depending on how Quinton Coples is classified (DE or LB?) and where first-rounder Sheldon Richardson lines up, there could be a spot behind Wilkerson.“If he doesn’t make the team,” said Ryan, “it’s not because of his work ethic or anything else. He’s a hard-playing kid.”
A first-year player who has turned heads in OTAs/minicamps.
~ ~ New York Jets :
Head coach Rex Ryan loves his defense, and so far first-round pick Sheldon Richardson has impressed. The former Missouri defensive lineman has displayed strength and a quick first step off the ball in spring practices. He has the potential to be disruptive, and this is what made Richardson the No. 13 overall pick in April's draft. Due to a need at quarterback, the Jets reportedly considered drafting Geno Smith with the No. 13 pick but took the higher-rated player in Richardson. It was a wise choice, because New York landed Smith in the second round with the No. 39 overall pick and got a good defensive lineman prospect in the process. The Jets are a young, rebuilding team, and Richardson is projected to be in the starting lineup in Week 1 of the regular season.
1. The Battle of Clunker Hill : Listen to Rex Ryan, and you come away with the impression he'd rather crochet a sweater than start Mark Sanchez at quarterback. Ryan's tone has been, um, less than enthusiastic. But guess what? He might have little choice. Judging from what I've seen and heard, rookie Geno Smith hasn't blown anybody away, the way Russell Wilson did last season when he walked into the Seahawks' facility. It's still early and things could change, but the way this is headed, it'll be Sanchez versus the Bucs in Week 1. That's the way it should be, unless Smith is lights-out in the preseason; the Jets should open with Sanchez.As much as the organization would like to start over at quarterback, it wouldn't be prudent to throw a rookie into a fire. And it'll be a blazing fire. Think about it: new offensive system; limited weaponry; difficult schedule. You'd do it with Andrew Luck, but Smith is no Luck. Of the past 11 quarterbacks drafted in the second round, only one started Week 1 as a rookie -- the Bengals' Andy Dalton in 2011. Smith throws a pretty ball, but it'll take more than that to win over the coaches and his teammates. Like it or not, it'll be Sanchez to start. How long he lasts, well, that's a different story.
2. The Q Mystery : Quinton Coples' switch to outside linebacker is going well, according to Coples. Curiously, he didn't play a lot of linebacker during the three OTA sessions open to the media. I suggested to him, half-jokingly, that maybe the team is purposely keeping him under wraps, a la Tim Tebow and the Wildcat. Coples, who has a terrific sense of humor, replied, "Hopefully, I'll do more than we did in the Wildcat."
Coples said he's not having any trouble with pass-coverage responsibilities. Any interceptions ?
"Nah, not yet," he said. "I like to consider myself 'Lockdown.' They don't throw the ball my way."
Coples Island ?
"I respect [Darrelle] Revis, so I don't want to say Coples Island," he said, smiling. "Revis Island, that's his gig. That's his deal. He showed me a lot of things when he was here. But I'm definitely a lockdown type of guy."
3. Speaking of Revis …: Just a random thought. Let's play the what-if game: What if the Jets had kept Revis, hoping to sign him to a long-term extension before the season ? With a $10 million bump in 2013 compensation (based on the contract he received from the Bucs), the Jets would have only about $2 million in cap space. They wouldn't have DT Sheldon Richardson, whom they selected with the Revis pick (13th overall). Or would they? It's believed that Richardson, WR Tavon Austin, CB Dee Milliner and G Chance Warmack were the top four on their draft board, not necessarily in that order. Austin was gone by the ninth pick, and you have to figure they wouldn't have picked Milliner with Revis in the long-term plan. So the choice would've been Warmack or Richardson. Maybe they would've ended up with Richardson anyway. That, of course, is based on the assumption their board would've remained the same with Revis in the picture.
4. Mr. Coffee : TE Hayden Smith has coordinated a coffee klatch in the Jets' locker room.He brews espresso after practice(he keeps a machine in his locker ) and serves teammates, some of whom sit around in a circle and shoot the breeze.Smith believes it promotes team chemistry. He got the idea from his rugby days in England, where teammates routinely visited a local coffee shop after practice. It shatters the stereotype of beer-drinking rugby types. "There's certainly a time and place to enjoy yourself," Smith said, "but there's a lot to be gained from sitting around and having a coffee together. Other than a great pick-me-up, it's nice to sit and talk with the guys."
5. The Sons Also Rise: Brock Sunderland, who worked in the Jets' scouting department for six years, has left the team to become the assistant GM of the Ottawa Red Blacks -- a new CFL team. Brock, the son of former longtime Jets scout Marv Sunderland, became the fourth Jets scout to leave or not have his contract renewed this offseason. During the 2010 playoff run, he was instrumental in helping the Jets reconnect with former player Dennis Byrd. There's also a scout on the rise in the Bradway family. Mike Bradway, the son of longtime Jets senior personnel executive Terry Bradway, has been promoted to the post of Eagles' Eastern regional scout.
6. Mother Knows Best: Dottie Hampton, the matriarch of one of the most popular families in Jets history, died last week at the age of 76. She's survived by husband Bill Hampton, the former longtime equipment manager, and son Clay, the current director of operations. Veteran scribe Randy Lange, of the Jets' official website, wrote a nice piece on Hampton, noting two behind-the-scenes contributions. She purchased the Hanes Beautymist pantyhose that Joe Namath wore in his famous 1973 commercial and, leading into the 1968 AFL Championship Game, she sewed pockets into the jersey fronts of Namath and the skill-position players. The pockets were a huge help on a bitterly cold day at Shea Stadium. Former longtime PR director Frank Ramos said she "might be the greatest Jets fan of all time." Condolences to a great family.
7. Belichick's Delay of Game: If Patriots coach Bill Belichick waited any longer to shoot down the notion that he "hates" Tebow as a player -- an anonymous quote in a May 9 story by Yahoo! Sports -- we'd be asking him about it on the conference call leading into Jets-Patriots in Week 2. It took him four weeks, making his reaction come across as disingenuous.
8. This Ain't Right: What's wrong with this picture? JaMarcus Russell, the epitome of bust-dom, gets a tryout with the Bears. Meanwhile, Tebow, a playoff-winning quarterback, sits at home, seemingly black-balled by the entire league.
9. A 'Sup-er New Yorker: Frank Supovitz, the NFL's point man for Super Bowl XLVIII, is all New York. He grew up in Queens, once worked as an usher at Radio City Music Hall and lives on Long Island. Now, in his job as the league's senior vice president of events, he gets to coordinate a Super Bowl in his hometown. How personally satisfying is that ? "I've never been asked that question before," Supovitz told me the other day. "Words don't describe it, really. It’s an honor to be leading a group of professionals that pull this event together. It's a national event that requires professionals from all over the country. The opportunity to be able to do it here, where I grew up, it's an incredible honor."
10. London Calling : I'm not a fan of putting a team in London, but I suspect it's inevitable. Hey, maybe it'll open a door for Tebow to get back into the league -- unless it's the Jaguars, of course.
1. Another bad day for receivers : Before practice, Rex Ryan expressed his displeasure with the receiving corps, mentioning all the drops from Tuesday's practice. So how did they respond? With another shaky performance. Stephen Hill, Jeff Cumberland and Jeremy Kerley were among those with dropped passes. Hill's drops were particularly galling. One came on an end-zone pass in a 7-on-7 drill, and there was another blatant drop in a team drill. Injured WR Santonio Holmes, trying to mentor Hill, expressed his frustration later in a news conference. Asked about Hill's struggles, Holmes said, "Stephen, Stephen, Stephen." Reminded me of the old "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia" line from the Brady Bunch. Memo to GM John Idzik: Think about adding a veteran.
2. Sanchez wins Day 2 : This was Geno Smith's day to work with the No. 1 offense. Later, QBs coach David Lee explained that Smith and Mark Sanchez alternate every two practices. Smith endured his share of hiccups, completing only two of seven passes (one drop). He's struggling with the little things, as Lee noted afterward. For instance, Smith double-hitched on a post route, causing him to make a late throw. Sanchez was 5-for-7 with one TD pass (WR Joseph Collins) and one sack. For the second straight day, neither quarterback threw an interception. Lee said Sanchez and Smith are running evenly in the competition, but reading between the lines, it sounds like Sanchez is the frontrunner.
3. Offense vs. defense: Holmes and CB Antonio Cromartie started jawing with each other when Sanchez fell to the grass while blocking on a reverse. Holmes, a spectator, barked at Cromartie, saying it's not cool to rough up the quarterback. Cromartie yelled something back. Afterward, Sanchez laughed about it, claiming he fell on his own and that it was no big deal. If you recall, Cromartie was the instigator in a full-scale brawl last summer in training camp.
4. In the red: A full team period was devoted to the red zone. Smith got nine reps, Sanchez seven. Once again, the offense struggled. On one play, Sanchez misfired on a shovel pass. There appeared to be a miscommunication. There was a definite emphasis on the running game, with Chris Ivory, John Griffin and Bilal Powell getting carries.
5. O-Line shuffle: They're trying to build position versatility on the offensive line, so we saw a few players lining up in different spots. Starting guards Willie Colon and Stephen Peterman flip-flopped, with Colon going to right guard, Peterman to the left. Backup tackles Vladimir Ducasse and rookie Oday Aboushi did the same, Ducasse shifting to left tackle, Aboushi to right tackle.
6. Gimpy Joe: RB/KR Joe McKnight tweaked an ankle or a leg early in practice, but he returned. He appeared to be limping slightly while returning kickoffs. He declined to speak to reporters, claiming Thursday is his day to talk. Seriously.
7. Safety dance: Josh Bush worked with the first team, ahead of Antonio Allen, who blew a coverage Tuesday and was yanked from the rotation. The safety competition is far from over, but Bush is ahead of Allen. The question is, is Bush good enough to handle the job?
8. Winslow impresses: Free-agent TE Kellen Winslow, Jr., didn't impress as much as he did on Day 1, but he probably has performed well enough to receive a contract offer. At times, he looks like the best tight end on the field. Ryan gushed about Winslow before practice. Free-agent WR Mike Sims-Walker, also attending minicamp on a tryout basis, hasn't fared as well. Ryan said Sims-Walker "didn't jump out like Winslow."
9. Good cause: Before practice, the Jets announced the fourth annual "Play Like a Jet" college scholarship winners. A $5,000 scholarship was awarded to Adriannah Rodriguez, of Brooklyn, and Eghosasere Idemudia, from the Bronx. They attended Fort Hamilton High and Taft Educational Campus, respectively, and will attend St. Francis College and Medgar Evers in the fall. In addition to the scholarships, the Jets support the PSAL in a variety of ways.
Jets general manager John Idzik emerged from his hole yesterday and saw his shadow — there must be six weeks until training camp.
Idzik has proven to be more elusive than anyone on his roster as he has avoided reporters for weeks despite one of his running backs getting arrested on gun and drug charges and one of his quarterbacks retiring two months after he signed him.
As his team wrapped up minicamp yesterday, Idzik met the media. If you were expecting answers, though, you came to the wrong place.
Idzik ducked and dodged most of the questions thrown his way.
TALKING GREEN : General manager John Idzik (left) talks with coach Rex Ryan at the Jets’ practice facility in Florham Park, N.J., yesterday.And here’s the thing for Idzik: He can get away with it for now. Hired just five months ago, he still has a honeymoon period with Jets fans, many of whom celebrate his non-answers after viewing the organization as too chatty with the media in the last few years.But that honeymoon won’t last forever. All Idzik has to do is look toward Queens this week at the Jets’ former roommates at Shea Stadium — the Mets. Sandy Alderson is in year three of a rebuilding project and Mets fans have finally run out of patience.
Idzik is in the early stages of his own rebuild, facing similar challenges to Alderson. He also inherited a team that miscalculated on some big contracts that handcuffed it from spending in other areas. He was faced with trading away Darrelle Revis because the team could not afford him like Alderson had to with Carlos Beltran.
But Jets fans won’t be as patient Mets fans. If Idzik is still rebuilding in 2015, he will be run out of town.There is a myth that you can’t rebuild in New York, that fans won’t allow it. But it’s not true. Fans here are smart enough to see when an organization loses its way and needs to reboot. The Knicks are the latest example of a team that pulled this off. Donnie Walsh cleaned up Isiah Thomas’ mess and the Knicks have returned from the wilderness, but he had it turned around by Year 3.
Idzik has a similar window to fix the Jets. No one is going to judge Idzik harshly on the results in 2013. Everyone knows he did not inherit the dynasty Steelers. He took over a 6-10 team with salary cap issues and he tore down the roster. During this spring, the Jets offense has looked as bad, if not worse, than last year’s group. When asked if he believes the team is currently better than the one he took over, Idzik dodged the question, likely knowing that he is taking one step back in hopes of taking two forward.“We’re just going to take it a meeting at a time, a practice at a time, a day at a time, a week at a time and keep pushing it forward and getting better,” Idzik said. “I believe that’s happened this offseason. I think our fans have seen that this offseason in some of the moves we’ve made.”
Two of those moves have come under fire with David Garrard retiring last month after his knee acted up and Mike Goodson getting arrested on drug and weapons charges. Idzik said the Jets did their homework and said all signings are “calculated chances.”It does not look good for Idzik, though, that two of his first signings ended up coming along with headaches. But that will be forgotten in time. Idzik’s true test comes after this year. The Jets should have a ton of cap space next year after getting rid of Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes, the two worst contracts on the team’s books. That should allow Idzik some room to work and shape a better roster.
Idzik can’t afford to get this wrong. GMs don’t get second chances. Idzik’s record is 0-0 with the Jets right now. Jets fans know 2013 is going to be tough and most seem prepared to accept that. But they accept it with the promise that 2014 and 2015 will be better. If Jets fans are still hearing about rebuilding then, it will be enough to make them miss Mike Tannenbaum.
Jets offseason report: Last chance for Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez ?
Many are wondering who the New York Jets coach will be in 2014. That's how little is expected of Rex Ryan and his team this year after an offseason change of general managers (from Mike Tannenbaum to John Idzik) and the roster purge that ensued.
The trade of cornerback Darrelle Revis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers highlighted a series of adjustments that seemed to include many more losses than gains for a team that had to correct the contract mistakes of the Tannenbaum era by saying goodbye to valuable veterans who had helped Ryan reach consecutive AFC Championship Games following the 2009 and 2010 seasons.Those daysare long gone,and the Jets aren't exactly viewed as thorns in the side of the New England Patriots after a 6-10 season. Rather, it seems they have a spot reserved in the basement of the AFC East.And who can blame those who have made such prognostications? In addition to losing talent on all three levels of the defense, the quarterback situation remains a mess. Mark Sanchez has the best shot at the starting job, though even in practice this spring he showed he's prone to turning over the football. Giveaways are what landed him on the bench last season, and he has 52 over the past two seasons. So here comes rookie Geno Smith to challenge him, though the second-round pick probably isn't ready to play at a high level.In short, the watch is on for Ryan's job. But, frankly, with this roster, he should get coach of the year consideration if this team finishes anywhere near .500.
It's probably going to be an ugly season for the Jets, and it should play out quietly in the New York market, right? Yeah, sure.
Sanchez's confidence appears to be shot,even though he's trying to say that is not the case."I'm working toward good things," he told news reporters."I feel the best I've felt in a while,and I feel like I'm putting together one of my best offseasons, and you just have to keep rolling."Accuracy-wise, I just feel great. Completion percentage has been high, being able to check the ball down, identify some of Rex's pressure that in the past would've given me trouble, feeling comfortable enough to mix up the cadence."Still, with the retirement of David Garrard shortly after signing with the team, Sanchez is the Jets' best shot at solid quarterback play this season a year after the Jets were 30th in the league in passing yards.Smith likely isn't ready, and an awful start to his career could crush his confidence. As for Greg McElroy, he's considered a nice third-stringer, not a starter.
Mike Goodson, whom Idzik signed as his first free agent, went from unquestioned starter to part of a 1-2 tandem with Chris Ivory, who arrived in a draft weekend trade with the New Orleans Saints, to a guy whose off-the-field issues put his roster spot in jeopardy. The Jets haven't cut Goodson, but he'll have to behave and prove that the team's interest in him after his four seasons as a backup with the Carolina Panthers and Oakland Raiders was warranted.
Last season, when Santonio Holmes went down with a foot injury, the Jets had nothing else at receiver. They still pretty much have Holmes and a bunch of question marks. Last year's second-round draft pick, Stephen Hill, will need to make tremendous strides this season for this unit to give the quarterback options.
Dustin Keller is gone. A starter for most of his five seasons with the Jets, Keller signed a one-year deal with the division-rival Miami Dolphins. The Jets weren't interested in paying Keller to stick around, opting to give retread Kellen Winslow II a new shot after June's minicamp. Jeff Cumberland, who didn't wow anyone in Keller's absence last year, is the likely starter unless Winslow reclaims his Pro Bowl form after playing one game in 2012.
This is one area in which the Jets might improve in 2013. They signed former Pittsburgh Steelers guard Willie Colon for slightly more than $1 million. That's a huge bargain. And if right tackle Austin Howard takes another step forward after an impressive 2012 season, the Jets should be better than average up front.
Losing end Mike DeVito and nose tackle Sione Pouha is going to hurt unless Sheldon Richardson, selected with the 13th overall pick, can have an immediate impact. The scouting reports have been mixed on Richardson, though the Jets liked what they saw in the spring. For the sake of the Jets defensive line, Idzik had better have a better batting average with Richardson than Tannenbaum had with some other linemen and pass rushers he brought in.
Bart Scott wasn't an impact player last season because of a foot injury that limited him. That said, his departure is a loss for this unit. But, hey, at least the Jets re-signed Calvin Pace after cutting him. Still, whether the linebackers make a mark will depend on last year's first-round pick, Quinton Coples, who played well in spurts during his rookie season.
Nobody is going to suggest this unit is better after the Revis trade and the departure of Pro Bowl safety LaRon Landry via free agency. Of course, that's not what those moves were about. They were about spending more wisely down the line. That said, there almost certainly will be a drop-off for a unit that played well last season. The Jets selected Dee Milliner with the ninth overall pick, and he is likely to challenge 2010 first-rounder Kyle Wilson for the corner spot opposite Antonio Cromartie.
The loss is on the coaching end. Mike Westhoff, considered the dean of special-teams coaches, retired. The good news is his replacement, Ben Kotwica, worked under Westhoff for the past few seasons. The question is whether Kotwica will be as crafty as Westhoff, who got his guys to make impact plays via blocked punts and returns.
Ryan isn't going to go quietly. Asked by USA TODAY Sports this spring if his confidence was affected by last season, he replied, "Oh, hell no." Bless Ryan's heart for not throwing a tantrum publicly before the Revis trade. The coach loved Revis as a player. To watch him be pried away had to be excruciating. Ryan is trying to smile after the roster purge, but this season could be awfully tough on him, and the bravado might not be as strong as it once was.