Home Ľ Jets Ľ Marty Mornhinweg Says Mark Sanchezís Accuracy has Been ďSky HighĒ
Definitely interesting timing on Martyís take here.
We have talked at length about what bringing in a West Coast offense means. The emphasis shifts from having a strong-arm, to having an accurate arm. The offense is built totally on timing, putting the receivers in the right place to catch the ball in stride, and create yards after the catch, better known as YAC.So, following the Jets first open workout of the OTA season, we get this quote from new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, when he told us that Mark Sanchezís.. :
ď..completion percentage and accuracy percentage have been sky high up to date.Ē
When I first read that quote, I thought, ďGreat! Marty is having an influence on Sanchez. I know itís early, but still, that is great news ! Ē But then, I thought about what else we learned from that day of practice, and I remembered, Rex was on Markís case that day as he threw 3 INTís, including two in a row. Truthfully, head coach Rex Ryan was not thrilled with any of the quarterbacks that day, so what is Marty talking about ?
Was he talking about what he viewed in practice? Was he going beyond the obvious with the INTs and looking at other throws that Mark made? Maybe he was trying to motivate Mark by staying uber-positive. I mean, he couldnít have forgotten that the guy threw 3 INTs, could he ? Maybe he was just trying to be big picture, instead of nitpicking about individual throws during early practices.
Whatever Marty is doing here, it will be interesting to watch play out, thatís for sure. Will we see Mark Sanchezís accuracy go ďsky-highĒ ?
Or will it be Geno time ?
Observations from Thursday's organized team activities, the second session open to the media :
1. Look, no interceptions : Eight days after Rex Ryan chided his quarterbacks (mostly Mark Sanchez) for their turnover-prone ways, the overall play from the quarterback position was considerably better than the previous open practice. Sanchez and rookie Geno Smith didn't have any turnovers. Repeat: no turnovers. Sanchez, working exclusively with the first team, completed 8 of 12 passes in team drills. He ended with three straight completions (all against the second-team defense), including a blitz-beating pass to TE Hayden Smith,who made a terrific catch.Smith was nearly perfect, completing 8 of 9 (one drop) with two sacks -- although he had a couple of near-interceptions in a seven-on-seven drill in the red zone.
Geno Smith was nearly perfect on Thursday.
This wasn't high-risk offense. Both quarterbacks operated a controlled passing attack, throwing mostly screens and short passes. Smith's longest completion was a 30-yarder to WR Joseph Collins, who caught the ball over CB Aaron Berry -- a misplay by Berry. Smith played with the second-team offense, although he got several reps against the starting defense. About half of his plays came out of shotgun, where he's more comfortable. On one play, Smith checked to an audible and threw a quick screen. Overall, this was a solid practice for both quarterbacks.
2. Hill's back: WR Stephen Hill, who missed a practice last week due to knee swelling, was back on the field. He participated in positional drills but was limited in team drills. He looked fine, but the team is proceeding with caution. As Sanchez noted, Hill still is chipping off some rust. Clyde Gates (hamstring) remained on the sideline. Newly signed WR Ben Obomanu, formerly of the Seahawks, jumped right in and got a lot of reps, including a few with the starters. He dropped a pass in a seven-on-seven drill. Obomanu also returned some kickoffs. Santonio Holmes remained on the sideline, rehabbing his surgically repaired foot.
3. New old role: It looks like CB Kyle Wilson, who replaced the injured Darrelle Revis in the starting lineup last season, is destined to return to his nickelback role. He worked in the slot, with Antonio Cromartie and Aaron Berry starting on the outside. When first-round pick Dee Milliner (shoulder surgery) is healthy in training camp, he'll probably replace Berry in the starting group. From all indications, the coaches believe Wilson is best suited to covering the slot receiver.
4. On guard: The Jets will have two new guards. The question is, which two? LG Willie Colon and RG Stephen Peterman lined up with the starters, but third-round pick Brian Winters rotated with Colon. Clearly, Colon gets the edge because of his experience, but don't rule out Winters in the left guard competition. Here's something interesting: Former second-round pick Vladimir Ducasse lined up at left tackle with the backups. Hey, the more you can do ...
5. Aussie shines: Former rugby player Hayden Smith continued to make strides at tight end. Smith, who didn't play organized football until a year ago, made a brilliant, 15-yard catch on a pass over the middle. He made a full-extension lunge, holding on to the ball as he crashed to the ground. He got extra reps because Jeff Cumberland (personal reasons) wasn't at practice. Smith will be a fun player to watch in training camp.
6. Safety dance: With Josh Bush recovering from offseason shoulder surgery (he practices with the red, noncontact jersey), Antonio Allen is receiving a great chance to win the starting safety job opposite Dawan Landry. He's had some good moments, and he's had some shaky moments. He missed a big-play opportunity in a seven-on-seven drill, dropping a would-be interception from Smith.
7. Aggressive D: Rex Ryan offered an interesting note on the defense, saying he wants to get back to the ultra-aggressive mentality from 2009. He said they spent too much time last season adjusting to matchups created by the offense instead of dictating the matchups themselves. (A tweak at former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, perhaps?) To accomplish that, Ryan said they're throwing the kitchen sink at the offense in OTA practices while also increasing the tempo. Indeed, there was a lot of energy in Thursday's practice, with players flying around in noncontact drills.
8. Goodson is fast: In recent weeks, RB Mike Goodson has been making headlines for the wrong reasons. This week, he returned to practice, showing the reason why the Jets signed him -- speed. On a toss play, Goodson got to the corner and turned up, blowing past would-be tacklers. If he can provide that dimension to the offense, a threat on the perimeter, the running attack will be a lot less predictable than it was last season.
If MM is somehow able to resurrect Sanchez or gets Smith to play like one of last years rookie QB's to move the O to middle of the pack he deserves to be bronzed and placed in Canton! .... Hope it happens!!
If MM is somehow able to resurrect Sanchez or gets Smith to play like one of last years rookie QB's to move the O to middle of the pack he deserves to be bronzed and placed in Canton! .... Hope it happens!!
Hall of Famer Steve Young was in Nashville, Tenn., on Dec. 17, the night Mark Sanchez's career turned into a country-music song -- a sad ballad about hitting rock bottom after a long fall.
"To me," Young said this week, "it just looked like a capitulation from a quarterback."
That's a fancy way of saying Sanchez gave up.
Young, working the New York Jets-Tennessee Titans game for ESPN, saw what America saw that Monday night. Sanchez threw four interceptions, lost a fumble with the game on the line and lost his starting job, which he may never get back."Capitulation" is a harsh word -- also hard to rhyme in a song -- but there's no doubt Sanchez was throwing to ghosts on that ill-fated night in Dixie.Now here we are, six months later, and Sanchez is trying to win back his team and its fans. The man charged with fixing him is a blast from Young's past, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who faces perhaps the biggest challenge of his career.
Mornhinweg, 51, is a long way from Young's San Francisco 49ers, Brett Favre's Green Bay Packers and Donovan McNabb's Philadelphia Eagles, previous stops in his career as an assistant coach. In Sanchez, he inherits a quarterback who needs to be rebooted."Marty can get everything Mark has," said Young, who played under Mornhinweg in the late 1990s. "Mark has to decide what that really is. Part of me thinks he has plenty in the tank but has just lost his desire to get it done. He's broken down. Unfortunately, that's what I see. But if there's something to get, Marty will get it."Mornhinweg has to be a teacher, a technician and a psychologist -- and even that might not be enough to get it done. But at least he brings a quarterback's perspective into the classroom and on the practice field, which wasn't the case with his predecessor, Tony Sparano, an old offensive line coach who had no experience with quarterbacks."He's like one of those professors in college that you like going to their class, and that was rare," Sanchez said of Mornhinweg, who learned his football from two of the brightest minds in the sport's history.Mornhinweg was coached in high school by Mike Holmgren and mentored early in his NFL coaching career by the late Bill Walsh. He was a camp quarterback for the 49ers in 1986, when Walsh was the coach, and returned a decade later as the coordinator.By then, Walsh had left the sideline for the front office. He became Mr. Miyagi to Mornhinweg's Karate Kid. They talked. Often.
"When he was up in training camp, shoot, I tried to grab him every day for a few minutes," Mornhinweg said. "He loved talking football as well. Looking back on it, it might have been good for both of us, certainly for me."Walsh died in 2007, but his wisdom still resonates with Mornhinweg, who applies his mentor's methods to the daily tasks of his job -- such as installing a new play. Walsh was known as a terrific teacher, able to explain and simplify complex schemes. Mornhinweg prides himself on the same.If you believe in the transitive property, you might say Walsh is teaching Sanchez, with Mornhinweg serving as the conduit.When Mornhinweg was hired in January, he brought a white legal pad into the film room and broke down every Sanchez play from the past three seasons. He graded him in four major categories: instincts, decision-making, accuracy and timing. He also evaluated his arm, athleticism and leadership.
What did he see ?
Mornhinweg said he saw a quarterback, in 2010, who orchestrated six fourth-quarter comeback victories. Impressive stuff. He also saw a quarterback who committed a league-high 52 turnovers in 2011 and 2012. Ugly stuff."The ball security is one thing of many that will be emphasized," Mornhinweg said. "That certainly needs to change."Some observers, including Jets legend Joe Namath, believe Sanchez was undermined by a diminished supporting cast. Mornhinweg didn't disagree, claiming a quarterback in that situation starts to press and "then it just simply blows up on him more than occasionally."
Or worse : The Butt Fumble.
"It seems like people are crying for a change at the quarterback position," Namath said. "OK, well, you know, those first two seasons are suddenly forgotten about. It wasn't just Mark having two off seasons in a row but the team having two off seasons in a row. The team came apart with some success. The team didn't know how to handle the success, starting at the top."The Jets haven't added any playmakers, so it's possible that Sanchez -- if he beats rookie Geno Smith for the job -- is doomed. If the talent isn't there on offense, all the king's horses and all the king's men might not be able to put Sanchez together again.
But Mornhinweg is trying.
He started with what amounted to Quarterbacking 101, an extensive review of what he calls "day one material." Footwork drills. Ball-security drills. Throwaway drills. Escape drills. New quarterbacks coach David Lee has "every drill known to man," Sanchez said.Listen to Sanchez for a few minutes and it becomes clear he has bought into the Mornhinweg way. It's a proven system, made famous by Walsh and Joe Montana. Mornhinweg tries not to name drop, but he brought in his old playbooks for Sanchez & Co. to peruse."Red Right 22 Z In -- I mean, Montana and Jerry Rice made that play famous," said Sanchez, reciting a play he probably will run many times. "That's a West Coast staple."You never got that sense that Sanchez was all-in with Sparano. He never criticized Sparano publicly, but he didn't consider it a quarterback-friendly offense, sources said. At least Mornhinweg sees the game from a quarterback's perspective, which will help Sanchez, according to Holmgren.
"Not everyone will agree with me on this, but having played the position, you have a feel for certain things," the former Super Bowl-winning coach said. "Marty has been a quarterback his whole life, and he's coached quarterbacks his whole life. That will help Mark. He'll know when to pat him on the back and know when to get after him a little bit."Sparano's offense wasn't designed for easy completions, and it was so vanilla that defenses didn't have a hard time figuring it out. In practice, the quarterbacks were instructed to use the same cadence, over and over. Eventually, the defense caught on, jumping the snap count, Sanchez said.
It was a small thing, but telling.
Now the trick is to master Mornhinweg's version of the West Coast offense, a rhythm-and-timing system predicated on quick reads and accurate throws. Accuracy isn't Sanchez's forte -- he's a 55 percent career passer -- but completion percentage and accuracy percentage are two different entities in Mornhinweg's world.Mornhinweg believes Sanchez can be an accurate passer, but he didn't make any guarantees. Most of his Sanchez assessments fell into the wait-and-see category, as he stopped short of big promises.
Asked point-blank if he believes in Sanchez, Mornhinweg said :
"Oh, I believe in all our quarterbacks. I believe in Mark Sanchez. He has taken this organization to two AFC Championship Games. He did it. Give him credit for that. He's had some struggles the last two years; let's see how he comes out of it."Sanchez is confident his skill set will marry with Mornhinweg's system. He likes having the ability to make quick reads. He likes having the flexibility to adjust his reads based on different coverages.He likes the multiple formations, the motions and the shifts. He likes being able to slide in the pocket, changing the launch point."Marty does an incredible job of coaching things up, helping you visualize the play," Sanchez said.The man knows quarterbacks. He was a quarterback. A damn good one too.Mornhinweg led his San Jose, Calif.-area team to a high school championship. He was so into football that, as a sixth-grader, he showed up with his father (also a coach) to one of Holmgren's varsity practices and basically asked for the playbook. He wanted to learn the offense and run it in his youth league, preparing him for varsity ball."He was way ahead of everyone else," Holmgren said. "He was a really, really skilled passer."Mornhinweg set numerous records as a four-year starter at the University of Montana. Only 5-foot-9, he didn't attract the bigger schools. He played briefly for the Denver Dynamite in the Arena League, but a serious knee injury ended his career, nudging him toward his destiny -- coaching.
His only head-coaching gig was a disaster, a 5-27 record with the Detroit Lions in 2001 and 2002. He'll be remembered for one decision -- an overtime game against the Chicago Bears in which he won the coin toss but opted to kick off, taking the wind instead of the ball. It backfired.It was a coaching version of the Butt Fumble, so he probably can relate to Sanchez. Mornhinweg hopes to get another shot as a head coach, according to people close to him. For the most part, he polished his image during a 10-year run in Philadelphia, where he became Andy Reid's coordinator. The Eagles were a top-10 offense in five of the seven years that Mornhinweg was the primary playcaller.
Yes, he runs the famous West Coast system, but he incorporated his personality into it."As a playcaller, he's much more of a gambler than I was," Holmgren said. "There were times when I watched the Eagles and certain calls stuck out at me. If he were coaching for me, I probably would've said, 'Why did you do that?'"On the surface, Mornhinweg and Ryan are an odd fit. He likes to throw the ball; Ryan likes to run it, catering to his beloved defense. In most cases, that's a philosophical clash waiting to happen. Perhaps Ryan, after four years of ignoring the offense, finally realizes the game has changed. It's a scoring league."It was a phenomenal hire by Rex," Young said. "Offense is like a Japanese garden; it takes a lot of tender care. That wasn't the case with the Jets because Rex always wanted his defense to dominate. Hiring Marty tells me he wants his offense to be great."He'll have to be a quarterback whisperer to revitalize Sanchez, who lost the fan support during last year's debacle. He has to be wondering if he has the support of the organization, which undermined him last year with Tim Tebow and drafted his likely replacement this spring. There will be no tears at One Jets Drive if Smith outplays Sanchez in the preseason.
Mornhinweg said he has researched the Sanchez situation, familiarizing himself with the public perception. All he needed to do was a Google search."There have been an awful lot of Hall of Famers go through worse than what Mark's been through, I'm telling you that right now," Mornhinweg said. "As long as the man is tough enough mentally -- we know Mark is tough physically -- they get through a spell like that and they come out the other end better for it. It's just that simple."Easy for him to say; Mornhinweg won't get booed the first time he makes a mistake, which will happen to Sanchez if he's the opening day starter. Not even the great Walsh would be able to control an angry fan base.
"Marty has the tool kit to help Mark, but the thing I worry about is, some guys get beat down and the fight is gone," Young said. "If the fight is gone, nothing can help. If there's something left, Marty can help. If Mark still has fight in him, it will be a positive."
The worst QB situation in the NFL: If you think the NY Jets have it bad, check out these messes
Mark Sanchez vs. Geno Smith is not exactly Joe Montana vs. Steve Young, but at least the Jets donít have the worst group of quarterbacks in the NFL.
The Jets' Mark Sanchez-Geno Smith battle might not be pretty, but it could be worse as fans in Jacksonville are watching Blaine Gabbert (11) fight it out with Chad Henne.Joe Namath turned 70 years old on Friday. He was just 25 on that glorious January day in Miami in 1969 when the Jets beat the mighty Colts in Super Bowl III.Thatís just another way of saying itís been a long time since the Jets were on top of the football world.The NFL has always been a quarterback league, but even more-so today than when Namath played. Itís very hard to win without an elite quarterback in what is now predominantly a passing league.Thatís bad news for the Jets. Training camps opens in less than two months and they have one of the eight worst quarterback situations in the NFL. That puts them in the bottom 25%.
If Mark Sanchezís $8.25 million salary for this season wasnít guaranteed, thereís a good chance he would have been cut by now. Instead, the Jets are counting on him thriving in Marty Mornhinwegís West Coast offense. At the same time, the Jets must hope that if Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson can start from day one, play like veterans and lead their teams into the playoffs, then maybe Geno Smith can do the same.Sanchez vs. Smith is not exactly Montana vs. Young, but at least the Jets donít have the worst group of quarterbacks in the NFL.
Here are my bottom eight, starting with the worst :
1. Jaguars : Just think, Jets Nation, you could be on the edge of your PSL seats charting Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne this summer. Even so, the Jaguars have no interest in bringing Tim Tebow home.
2. Raiders : Matt Flynn, despite signing a three-year $19.5 million free agent contract with $10 million guaranteed last year with the Seahawks, was beaten out by Wilson last summer, was traded to Oakland in April, and now could be beaten out by another impressive rookie named Wilson, this time Arkansasí Tyler Wilson, a fourth-round pick. If Tyler Wilson is as good as Russell Wilson, then Oaklandís QB standing rises dramatically.
3. Browns : Brandon Weeden will face all the issues of a struggling second-year QB and heís already 29 years old. Perennial backup Jason Campbell will pressure Weeden in training camp. Clevelandís only hope is that Norv Turner, a better offensive coordinator than a head coach, can get Weeden straightened out.
4. Bills : They dumped Ryan Fitzpatrick and signed Kevin Kolb, which is just about an even exchange talent-wise. Kolb is always hurt. And when heís not, he stinks. The Bills traded down in the first round and reached for Florida Stateís EJ Manuel as the first QB off the board in this yearís draft, the 16th overall pick. Heís running third team in the OTAs behind Kolb and Tarvaris Jackson, but that means little right now. It wonít be long before Manuel starts.
5. Cardinals : In his 25-game Raiders career, Carson Palmer threw 35 TDs and 30 INTs and Oakland was 8-16 in games he started. Rookie Cardinals coach Bruce Arians did a great job with Luck last year in Indy and previously with Big Ben in Pittsburgh, but Palmer is a reclamation project on the downside of his career. Still, heís got to be better than the dreadful Kolb-John Skelton-Ryan Lindley trio of last year.
6. Titans : Jake Locker had 10 TDs and 11 INTs last year and the Titans cut his mentor Matt Hasselbeck, who has been replaced by Fitzpatrick, whose game fell apart in Buffalo after he signed a six-year $59 million contract with $24 million guaranteed when the Bills were 4-2 in 2011. He then went 8-18 over the last 1 1 ⁄ 2 years and the Bills cut him.
7. Vikings : Christian Ponder was a little more appreciated after an arm injury suffered in the final game of the regular season kept him out of Minnesotaís wild-card game loss to the Packers and Joe Webb was 11-for-30. Ponder is one of the most maligned quarterbacks, but his job is secure because his new backup is Matt Cassel. The Vikes have since moved Webb to wide receiver.
8. Jets : What happened to the Sanchez who played well in the 2009 playoffs and even better in the 2010 playoffs when he outplayed Peyton Manning and Brady in back-to-back road victories? Can Mornhinweg bring him back? The Jets are looking for any reason to play Smith, so if Sanchez doesnít take control this summer, he wonít have to worry about getting booed in the pregame introductions in the season opener. He will be wearing a baseball cap and headset.
Even though OTAs are non-contact practices, Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks broke his foot in an OTA last year and last month 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree tore his Achilles and Chargers linebacker Melvin Ingram tore his ACL. Thatís why thereís no chance Victor Cruz shows up for mini-camp on June 11-13 without a new contract. Does Nicks owe the Giants an explanation for why he skipped the last two weeks of OTAs, which are voluntary? That would be a nice courtesy to extend, but until Nicks is required to be with the team for the mandatory mini-camp, itís hard to blame him for not subjecting himself to injury ó if thatís his motivation for staying away. He has one year at $2.725 million remaining on his rookie contract. Cruz is without a contract, so heís not required to attend anything. The Giants have the right to reduce Cruzí $2.879 million tender to $630,000 on June 17 ó it would be surprising if they did that óand they clearly want to get him signed long-term. Theyíve offered a deal averaging just under $8 million per year that includes $15 million-$18 million guaranteed. Cruz received his chance to play in 2011 because Steve Smith suffered a serious knee injury late in the 2010 season after he reportedly turned down a lucrative five-year $35 million deal with $15 million guaranteed. Once Smith was hurt, the offer disappeared. After bouncing from the Eagles in 2011 to the Rams last year and the Bucs in April, Smith retired last week. He was never the same player. Thatís why thereís little chance Cruz will play for the tender just so he can become a free agent in 2014. If he suffers a serious injury like Smith, the big money will disappear on him, too. I think Cruz will sign a long-term deal in time to get himself ready for the season opener in Dallas, even if heís not there for the beginning of training camp. Ö This also raises the issue about the value of OTAs vs. the injury risk. Football is an injury sport, even when thereís no contact allowed.
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- With the NFL giving serious consideration to moving the draft around the country after having to push it back to May 8 in 2014 because of a scheduling conflict with Radio City Music Hall, I would not be surprised if the league creates a bidding process for cities interested in hosting the draft, just as it does with the Super Bowl. The draft might be the NFLís second biggest event and with the league always looking to maximize revenues, creating a bidding war to host the draft could be pretty lucrative.
- Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has had four surgeries on his broken arm ó he was hurt in November and again in January ó and now will undergo back surgery later this month. Itís not realistic he can be ready for the start of camp. Aaron Hernandez, the Pats other indispensable tight end, had offseason shoulder surgery, but is expected to be ready for camp. Former Giants TE Jake Ballard, who tore his ACL in the Super Bowl against New England 16 months ago and then was claimed months later by Bill Belichick as the Giants tried to sneak him through waivers and put him on the PUP list, missed all of last season. He took part on a limited basis in the recent OTAs, but the Patriots web site reports Ballard is running with a ďdiscernible limp.Ē
- The web site Blogging The Boys pieced together television shots of Jerry Jones doing interviews in front of the Cowboys 2013 draft board and came up with Dallasí rankings. The íBoysí top rated QBs were Ryan Nassib, Matt Barkley and Geno Smith ó they all had second-round grades. Nassib (Giants) and Barkley (Eagles) went in the fourth round. Smith was taken by the Jets in the second round. Ö Dallas had T Justin Pugh, the Giants first-round pick, with a second-round grade. The íBoys had Jets first-round picks Dee Milliner as the best corner and Sheldon Richardson as the second best DT, both with first-round grades. Dallas had Richardson behind Shariff Floyd. Richardson was the first DT taken at No. 13. Floyd was third at No. 23 to the Vikings.
Transcript of Mark Sanchez's and Geno Smith's news conferences following Thursday's morning OTA practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center:
QB MARK SANCHEZ
On how things have gone at OTAs since last WednesdayÖ
I think camp as a whole has been probably one of my best offseasons. I feel comfortable with the system. I feel like weíre really starting to understand things as an offense and slow things down a little bit as we play. But youíve got to remember that its one practice, itís three passes and Rex [Ryan] alluded to it that weíve got to take care of the ball and I agree. We do have to take care of the ball.But I think those guys have the luxury of seeing that entire body of work this offseason and know Iím working towards good things. I feel the best Iíve felt in a while and I feel like Iím putting together one of my best offseasons and just got to keep rolling. You have a tough day, you have a tough pass, a tough couple of practices, whatever it is, youíve got to roll through it.
On if Coach Ryan spoke with him directly about last weekís turnoversÖ
I think itís just one of those things that not only him, but Marty [Mornhinweg] talks about all the time, our quarterbacks coach [David Lee] talks about all the time, but we need to just take care of the ball. Whether itís running with the ball, youíre in the pocket, you get sacked, whatever, just cover it up and take care of it. Make the right decision down the field. If you have to throw it away, throw it away. I think that day, it just built up and I think it was one team period where it was bang, bang, bang and sometimes those things happen and you have to figure out a way to end it and thatís it.
On his discussions with Santonio Holmes during practiceÖ
Well, heís picking up the system. He canít wait to get back on the field and we canít wait to get him out there. Heís one of those guys who really thinks the game and always wants to know what Iím thinking, what I was looking at. If thereís anything I see and I have a question for him or he has a question for me, itís always been that kind of relationship. We have a pretty easy-flowing conversation. I canít tell you exactly, Iím trying to remember myself, but it couldíve been an alignment, why I went on a certain cadence, the split of a receiver, why I threw it to a certain spot. Heís engaged and involved and itís nice that heís like that and instead of just sitting off to the side and not really caring. Heís into it and he wants to be a part of it.
On how he has done in OTAs compared to the other quarterbacksÖ
Thatís for the coaches decide. Iím really focused on the defense Iím playing against. Iím really focused on getting guys in the right alignment, using your vision for making plays downfield. Anything I can do to help Geno [Smith] with having my experience against Rexís defense, whether it's a specific look, this or that, we share things back and forth. I think heís working hard and thatís all I know. Heís been a great competitor.
On how he feels Smith has performed in practiceÖ
I think heís done well. He works hard. Heís done his best to get completions like we all are. We know that we are playing against one of the best defensive units year in and year out so we take that into account, but that canít be an excuse for us.
On if it is hard to deal with when he has a bad practice and it becomes a big storyÖ
Itís just kind of the way it goes. Itís just like the opposite of when you come to New York and win youíre first two seasons, youíre in the playoffs and things like that. I mean, people tell you maybe you are a little better than you are. Maybe things go the other way as well. That balance, I just try to stand in the middle and as far as a headband or one bad practice, that doesnít matter. Iím stronger than that. I would hope or I wouldnít be here. I can handle that. Itís no big deal.
On Stephen Hillís return to practiceÖ
Yeah, heís been practicing a little bit. Doing a lot of individual drills, but heís still getting his feet under him. Getting his legs back. Getting back in the swing of things. Heís been going crazy in that weight room and the training room. Heís sick and tired of being in there and ready to get out on the field. Weíre excited to get him back and we can use him.
On what he saw from Stephen Hill in practice todayÖ
That heís just shaking off the rust a little bit, but heís working his butt off. Anytime he gets with Coach Sanjay [Lal] on all those individual drills, heís really starting to get more and more comfortable. I think heís done a great job learning the system. He feels comfortable that way. Heís not one of the guys that wants to come back and ask questions. ďWhatís the formation? Timeout, say that again.Ē Heís ready to roll and thatís for a guy who didnít do much in the offseason stuff at the beginning. He jumped right in. We plugged him right in. Heís doing great.
On how if it is difficult practicing without the regular starters and going against Coach Ryanís defenseÖ
At times it turns into a throwaway drill [laughter]. Thatís the way it goes. Martyís good about reminding us of that. That if thatís what it turns into you compete to win and if winning is taking a sack, sometimes that means, you take a sack. If that means you have to throw the ball away and somebodyís not looking and not ready for that pressure, youíve got to throw the ball to where youíre supposed to go. If heís not looking, heís not ready, then move onto the next one. Push forward and get the ball out. Throw or go.
You just go through those reps and usually during the season itís the opposite. Most of the plays work. Things happen the right way. Things happen on time. And then you get those two, three to five max plays where all hell kind of breaks loose and now itís time to make a really good decision, so we are getting a lot of practice at those.
On the time needed to build team chemistryÖ
Thatís part of it. Itís a limited deal with this schedule. It gives guys a good break but it also puts the responsibility on players to come back in shape so weíre not wasting time with guys having injuries and things like that. This is the time where guys need to be healthy; we need to get this timing down. Same thing with camp in August. These two real periods of time are the most important blocks of the offseason. We got to get guys healthy; we have to get those receivers back on the field. We need some legs out there. The guys that are filling in are doing a great job.
On why he feels this is his best offseason yetÖ
I just feel comfortable. Marty said it the other day, itís something I would never say, but heís already went out there and said it, but accuracy wise, I just feel great. I think going back and looking at practices, completion percentage has been high. Being able to check the ball down, identify some of Rexís pressures that in the past might have caused me some trouble.
Just having that experience against these guys, really working with Mangold to get some calls out, thatís been great. Feeling comfortable enough to mix up the cadence this early and learning a new offense. I remember I felt like last year we were learning so much and trying so hard, it just felt like we went on one forever. We went on one and on one and on one. By the end of the time the defense was like ďall right,Ē theyíre just licking their chops ready to roll and teeing off. I think our guys feel good and I personally feel like weíre doing really well.
On what his completion percentage isÖ
I mean I donít know the exact number. Ask Marty, heís got all the stats. Itís good. Itís where we want it to be.
On Coach Mornhinwegís systemÖ
I think itís similar to what we tried to do in college. Itís similar, that West Coast system. I just feel that it suits my abilities. You know you donít have to be someone that runs a 4.5 type deal, you can get back there, get rid of the ball whether itís a five plan or a seven and quick hitch, that things out. You know there are places to go with the football. I think Marty does an incredible job coaching things up, helping you visualize the play, understanding your read against multiple coverages. His experiences have allowed him to do that. So it really is encouraging.
On if he will be surprised if he isnít the starter on Opening DayÖ
I donít really think like that. Iím planning on playing, Iím planning on starting. I donít know. Iíll let you know.
On how he would feel if he does not start based on how he feels right nowÖ
I donít plan on that happening.
On examples of why Coach Mornhinwegís and skill sets work so well togetherÖ
Being able to move the pocket a little bit and change the launch point of the quarterback. I think that is important, just as a changeup. Multiple sets, multiple formations. A ton of the same concepts that really have a lot of the same reads. You start combining those things together, adding motions, adding shifts. Thatís really where I feel the most comfortable. You get through those first couple installs and everything else you really add to those installs. You tweak something here, something there. You install that first, that second red zone install and you then you start to tweak things based on the teams you play and based on your personnel. I just feel like Marty does a heck of a job relaying information, communicating to different players who might learn differently. And that goes for us quarterbacks as well. Some guys want to rep it on the field, some guys want to do it on a walkthrough, some guys want to see it on the board and some guys need to see it in a film of another team doing it or something. Heís had all of that available. You add Coach Lee in there with every drill known to man, whether itís a ball security drill, a reset drill, an escape drill, a throwaway drill, heís got it all. I think those things put together put the quarterback in a good situation.
On working with a new quarterbacks coachÖ
I think Cav [former QBs coach Matt Cavanaugh] actually was a West Coast guy. I donít know if he and Marty overlapped in San Francisco, I think he might have been before that. He had his old playbooks from when they won Super Bowls with Joe Montana and Steve Young and stuff like that. Red Right 22 Z In, I mean, Montana and Jerry Rice made that play famous and thatís a West Coast staple. So Cav was a part of that system. He was a part of that timing five-hitch, reset, run it forward and get the ball out if one and two arenít open sort of deal. I felt like Cav was in a tough spot because maybe the offenses didnít match up to his style if that makes sense. Those kinds of things happen. Not everybody is going to be a West Coast guy. Some guys come from different systems. Cav had to adapt just like Schotty [Brian Schottenheimer] and Coach Sparano [offensive assistant Tony Sparano Jr.] will have to adapt. I wish him the best and I thought he was a great coach.
On competing with and helping Geno SmithÖ
Sure, I think part of that comes where youíre just confident in yourself. If I was insecure about something or couldnít handle either this market or this pressure or, ĎMan, I canít handle this competition,í maybe I wouldnít say much to him, maybe Iíd be a little scared to give him help. But I donít feel like that. I just donít, itís not my personality. Iím confident, Iím ready to go, I can do it, I know I can. So when it comes to Geno, I root for other guys, I root for Greg [McElroy], I root for Matt Simms, I root for Geno. If they make a bad throw Iím right there, ĎHey, keep your head up. Letís go, next play. Move on.í Because those are the same things I say to myself. ĎItís no big deal, let it go. Letís be a leader, keep your head up, shoulders back, eyes up,í like Marty always says, Ďand roll.í And so that kind of thing, if I can help him with that that will help him years down the road when Iím done playing and heís still playing.
On Mornhinweg using examples of quarterbacks he coached in the pastÖ
I mean, he doesnít need much credibility, you should just hear him talk. Not only is he engaging but he just has so much knowledge of the subject. Heís like one of those professors in college that you like going to their class, and that was rare. Yeah, it adds credibility but he doesnít even need to do that. And heís not doing it like, ďYeah, I did this with Steve Young,Ē just namedropping or something. Itís more like ďHey, this is exactly how we did it. We scored in 1990-whatever and it was against the so-and-so team on this exact play from the 22-yard line and he ran the corner route and boom, here comes the under route, whatever,Ē and just to hear him grab something like that from the history book is pretty cool.
On if Mornhinwegís teaching is helpful or suggests he can adaptÖ
I think theyíre both. I think itís just an example to show you why itís relevant, when itís worked, how itís worked and what specific situation itís worked. If you get that situation he now expects you to know it based on that example.
On Kellen Clemensí help during his rookie season leaving an imprintÖ
I mean, Kellen is salt of the earth. He was one of the best guys Iíve ever been around. Itís similar, whether itís a protection question, I mean, you can see if a guy is not understanding something or looking at the board kind of sideways or just giving it a funny look and you know when the right time is to say something.
If Geno ever said, ďHey, man, leave me alone,Ē all right, then I wonít say anything. But heís been open, receptive, ďHey, what do you think about this? Talk to me about that defensive backís stance, what does that mean?Ē Thatís all normal quarterback conversation and Iím totally comfortable doing that, just like Kellen was with me because I had a million questions. You just come in as a rookie, youíre just slinging it, trying to find open guys and get rid of the ball.
QB GENO SMITH
On how todayís practice wentÖ
I felt good. Another day getting better, another day getting acclimated to the playbook, another day getting used to my surroundings. I feel like Iím getting better and getting more comfortable with it. Still studying hard and still trying to get better daily.
On how comfortable he feels with the offense after three weeks inÖ
I feel a lot more comfortable than I obviously felt in rookie minicamp and the week before last and last week. Itís just about getting the repetition. Iíve been getting a lot of reps. Iíve been making mistakes. Iíve been getting in the film room learning from them. I feel a lot more comfortable than I did at that point but there still a long ways to go. I feel like I had a pretty good practice, but there are still some things I need to improve upon.
On what parts of his game he feels he needs to improve onÖ
Everything. From the standpoint of just having a better understand of the route concepts. Having a better understanding of the protections. Being able to get in and out of certain protections. Being able to see hots and make adjustments with the wideouts, make adjustments with my backs and my offensive lineman. But those guys have done a great job. Just continuing to study. All the young guys here are working very hard and I think weíre doing some good things. But we also have many things we can improve on.
On if he is concerned with the NFLPA looking into his signing with Roc NationÖ
No, I donít have any concerns. Jay-Z didnít recruit me. I chose Roc Nation Sports for management because there was something that myself and my family came to a conclusion and felt comfortable with and I am happy to be a part of it. But Iím here to talk about football. Thatís life outside of football and what I do in this locker room is what I feel matters now.
On how much his teammates understand the offenseÖ
I think everyone is still learning. You still have a maze out there but overall I think the guys are doing a great job of continuing to study. Continuing to get the playbook. We study film together, quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs. We all get in the locker room and discuss certain situations that we may see on the field. The communication is great and I think that as that continues to build and continues to develop and learn the terminology and learn what Marty [Mornhinweg] wants us to do, myself included, I think we will continue to get better.
On the intensity of Coach MornhinwegÖ
Thatís Marty. He wants the work to be done the right way. Guys are out there working hard. There are going to be some mistakes but itís his job to continue to stay on us and he does a great job of that.
On the quarterback drills he runs in practiceÖ
I donít think they are much different. I donít know what other coaches do. But I do know that for the system that weíre in, for the type of plays that we run, the West Coast system, I think they are perfect for what we do.
On if they are running a lot of shotgun playsÖ
I just run that plays that are called. Marty runs the script, so I just go out there and run the plays. We have shotgun plays. We have a number of different packages. Iím under center about 50 percent of the time, I donít think itís either way.
On the transition to playing more under centerÖ
Itís just about repetition. We get a lot of reps, put in a lot of work off the field aside from what I do in practice, just to make sure that my feet are in the right place. I do a lot of studying. I try my best to just catch up to some of the vets. Those guys really know what theyíre doing out there and the speed of the game is a lot quicker than it was in college. At this point you donít really want to worry about that when youíre out going through your reads, so I try and do that stuff with Coach Lee, take him to the side, talk through some things with him and just go out there and play football.
On his performance compared to the other quarterbacks so farÖ
Thatís not for me to decide. My job is to go out there and compete. Coach Mornhinweg, Coach Lee, Coach Rex, they do all the decision-making. I just go out and work hard.
On how he feels about his progressÖ
I feel a lot more comfortable with the offense. I feel a lot more comfortable with my drops and my reads. It happens a lot quicker. The more you do it the better you are able to see it, the better you are able to figure things out with a better pace and a better speed. Itís just about polishing things up. Itís going to be a long process. We have a long ways to go, Iím just going to keep plugging at it and Iím going to keep working hard.
On if he is staying in the area or going home when the offseason breaksÖ
I havenít decided.
On his opinion if previous young quarterbacks are raising the barÖ
Those guys have done great and Iím happy for them, but I have my own task. Iím going to continue to handle things the way I have always done, which is to keep working hard. I donít worry about those things, I donít worry about what the next guy did. Thatís not for me to do. Thatís not my job. Iím just here to work hard and here to try and help my team.
On his decision makingÖ
That is something our coaches stress. Coach Marty, Coach Lee, they stress not putting us in bad situations, not forcing the ball and taking whatís there. Thatís what I try and do. I try to go out there and try and take my reads and if itís not there, try to throw it away. Live to play the next play.
On his opinion of if the team is a playoff teamÖ
We are a long ways from that. Weíre still working. Like I said thatís every teams goal at the end of the season is to hoist that Lombardi Trophy. Weíre working towards getting there. Iím not going to say what we are right now. There are games to be played. We have a preseason schedule, then a 16-game schedule that we will eventually find that out.
On if he has any bad daysÖ
I wouldnít necessarily say bad days, just ups and downs. Thatís just a part of being a young quarterback and being a rookie in this league. These guys out there, like I said, they know what they are doing. They move fast, they see things quicker. Itís my job to continue to study. Those guys do a great job in keeping my head up when I do make mistakes. They just let me know that, hey it happens, all rookies go through this. The vets do a great job, Mark [Sanchez] and David Harris, and all of those guys. Coach Rex, Coach Lee, they all just keep my morale up. Not to say that it is down, just letting me know that it is part of the process.
On if any plays are tailored to what he ran in collegeÖ
Still too soon, much too soon. Like I said, Iím just working hard and just trying to get the playbook down to the point where I know it. Once that happens, Iíll be able to move forward from there.
On if Coach Mornhinweg will tailor plays to what he ran in collegeÖ
Itís mostly just weíre all out there competing. He has a playbook, he has a system that has worked for numerous decades. It started with Bill Walsh and itís Marty, all those guys, all those coaches, and they want it executed a certain way. Itís my job to go out there, soak it all in, learn from it, be coachable, do all those things he wants us to do out there on the field and just try to execute the plays and run the offense the way he wants to run it.
On if he has watched tape of quarterbacks who have played in the West Coast systemÖ
When I got drafted here, I knew I was going to be in the West Coast system, and I asked Coach Lee, whoís been a quarterbacks coach for a number of years for a bunch of tapes. He gave me tapes of a bunch of past and present quarterbacks heís worked with, such as Eli and Peyton [Manning], other guys who have run the West Coast, some guys like Joe Montana, Boomer Esiason. When I was home prior to coming here for rookie minicamp, I watched some of that, tried to get acclimated to it and tried to do some of those drills I see on tape.
On how much the offensive coaches bring up coaches they have coached with in the pastÖ
I mean, not much. We all know how that works, where it comes from, who heís coached, who heís coached with. But every guyís different. Myself, Mark, Matt [Simms], Greg [McElroy], weíre all different. We all do things differently but itís all under the same umbrella. So weíve got to do it our separate ways, the way Coach Marty wants it done, the way itís been executed for the past two or three decades. Like I said itís just about getting better and getting acclimated to it.
On if Coach Mornhinweg refers to quarterbacks he has coached in the pastÖ
I mean, he lectures me sometimes. Sometimes he references those guys but heís never telling me ďHey, you should do it like this guy.Ē Like I said, every single quarterback is different.
On if it would be a disappointment to not be named the starterÖ
Not at all. The coaches are going to choose who they feel is best for the team. Itís not my job to really worry about that. Like I said, I just go out there and work hard. Whatever it takes to help my team win is what Iím going to do. Iím going to give it my best shot and see what happens from there.
On how not being named the starter would hurt his confidenceÖ
It wouldnít hurt my confidence. It just means I need to continue to work hard. I have confidence that eventually one day Iíll get there. But itís going to take time and that happens for every quarterback. Like I said, everyoneís situation is always going to be different. So thatís what Iím going to do, just focus on my situation and continue to work
The New York Jets are in full rebuilding mode in 2013. That is why it makes sense for the Jets to hand the ball to rookie quarterback Geno Smith sooner than later.Smith, a second-round pick and the second quarterback taken in this year's draft, is competing with incumbent Mark Sanchez for the starting job in New York. But will success by last year's rookie quarterbacks place unfair pressure on Smith and others to perform well immediately?
The stellar 2012 quarterback class led by Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson all took their teams to the playoffs in their first seasons. Two other rookie quarterbacks --Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden -- started 16 and 15 games, respectively, and put up decent numbers. Fair or unfair, the bar has been raised for Smith, EJ Manuel of the Buffalo Bills and other rookie quarterbacks to produce immediately when they get their chance."Those guys have done great and Iím happy for them, but I have my own task," Smith recently told reporters about the 2012 quarterback class. "Iím going to continue to handle things the way I have always done, which is to keep working hard. I donít worry about those things, I donít worry about what the next guy did. Thatís not for me to do. Thatís not my job. Iím just here to work hard and here to try and help my team."
Smith has as good a chance as any rookie quarterback to win the starting job in Week 1. Sanchez led the NFL in turnovers the past two seasons, and reportedly some in the locker room feels it's time for a change.The Jets are switching to a West Coast scheme under new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. The quarterback who grasps the offense best will have the advantage. So far both quarterbacks have had their moments in organized team activities."I think heís done well," Sanchez said of Smith. "He works hard. Heís done his best to get completions like we all are."
Rookie quarterbacks like Luck, RG III and Wilson were the exception, not the rule. The bar certainly has been raised. But do not expect a lightning-fast turnaround and immediate playoff results from this year's quarterback class.
Q: Do you think Geno Smith will start this year ?
EA: If the Jets think Smith can function at a high level on a consistent basis, then he will get the starting nod. But you can say the same thing for Mark Sanchez. This thing is wide open.
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said Smith ďhas an opportunity to be a heck of a player in this league.Ē Will Smith outduel Sanchez this summer and earn the nod for the Week 1 meeting with the Bucs? The Jets will let the competition play out and it is very important to remember that the media is only allowed at 30% (3 of 10) OTA sessions. Both Smith and Sanchez have received reps with the first unit. The rookie is a big-time talent and hasnít looked out of place on the field.
The season is a marathon and a lot of things can change from camp through January.
Q: According to NFL.com, Sanchez took the majority of first-team reps during organized team activities this week. Does this mean Sanchez will still be QB No. 1 ? If no, does it make sense for Geno take on second team activities?
EA: Let me turn it over to Rex Ryan for this answer.
ďWeíve actually flip-flopped some days,Ē he told the media last week. ďWe actually had Geno running with the ones a day you guys werenít out there. Again, there is going to be competition for this job. Thereís no doubt. Itís not clear cut that this guy is the starting quarterback. The guy is going to have to earn it no matter who it is.Ē
Bay Shore, NY
Q: If you were a betting man, who will be the Jets starting QB Game 1? And for Game 16?
EA: If I do wager, you might see me at a Blackjack table. At this point in early June, there is no clear-cut leader in the QB race. Keep your money tucked away or put it in a savings account.
North Attleboro, MA
Q: There has been a lot of talk about Coples moving to OLB, but what about Demario Davis? Do you think he is ready to fill in for Bart Scott? I felt there was a big drop-off in performance by the ILBs last year.
EA: After playing a valuable role in sub packages last season, I do believe Davis is ready to step up in his sophomore campaign. He is a talented athlete who will be an asset in coverage, provides some physicality against the run and possesses a good burst when rushing the passer. Davis, who will be one of my guests on ďJets Talk LIVEĒ this week, has outstanding intangibles and is a natural leader. I like the Jets front seven and the Green & White have done a nice job improving their speed at linebacker and along the defensive line.
Castro Valley, CA
Q: Do the Jets have any linebackers that can cover big and fast tight ends as well as running backs out of the backfield?
EA: The Jets have some speed at linebacker with the aforementioned Demario Davis and free agent addition Antwan Barnes. Calvin Pace is not a kid anymore, but I still think he does a solid job in coverage. There has been a lot of change at safety, but that does not mean there isnít talent there. Dawan Landry is a steady vet, Antonio Allen is a rangy athlete who can cover ground, Josh Bush has good man cover skills and Jaiquawn Jarrett and Donnie Fletcher are also interesting prospects. A rookie to track in camp is Rontez Miles, a California (PA) product who was one of the top players in Division II last year. Linebacker Josh Mauga, who was limited to five games in 2012 due to a torn pectoral muscle, also is solid in coverage.
Q: Is there going to be a recommitment to the run this season?
EA: I think the phrase ďGround & PoundĒ can be put away for a bit, but you play to your strengths. On paper, the strengths of the Jets offense are the offensive line and the running backs. Marty Mornhinweg is going to get the ball to his playmakers and you are going to see the Green & White use their backs a lot more in the passing game.
The NFL is a scoring league and the Jets were 28th in that category a year ago at 17.6 points a contest. The run game should be improved because the talent is better up front and in the backfield. They havenít run that much in practice yet because you donít get much out of those limited contact drills in shorts.
But the biggest challenge ó perhaps of the whole team ó is improving a pass game that ranked 30th in yard per game (180.7) and 29th in TD passes (14).
Q: Interesting article on (Willie) Colon. I liked the signing, but does the club expect to start both Colon and (Stephen) Peterman? I thought the draft would relegate them to a supporting role? Anything on the rookie OL?
EA: If Colon is healthy, he will be the Jets LG. This lineman could be a huge steal for the Jets and I love the presence he adds to the locker room.
Peterman is receiving first-team reps at RG, but I think he is going to be pushed hard by Brian Winters. The Jets are high on Winters, a third-round pick from Kent State. As far as the other OL draft picks, Oday Aboushi (D5, No. 141) will be a reserve swing tackle as a rookie and Will Campbell (D6, No. 178), a former Michigan DT, is making the transition back to the offensive side of the ball at guard. The pads will be on in Cortland and thatís when weíll see some separation.
Wouldn't our offense have been better served with a second-round pick at a different skill position and next year pick a 1st round rated QB?
EA: Ahhh, you know better than that. You donít look ahead to next year. What skill position player would have you have taken instead of Geno Smith? I like the pick, I like what Iíve seen and Iím awfully glad Marty Mornhinweg and QB coach David Lee are tutoring the young passer.
Ormond, Beach, FL
Q: What are we doing with Mike Goodson?
EA: The Jets are letting the legal process play out with Goodson. On the field, they love his speed and he can catch the rock out of the backfield. Rex Ryan also said Goodson does a good job running some direct snaps as well. He might be the fastest Jet overall.
Q: Do you think we need a receiver?
EA: With GM John Idzik, he is always going to search for ways to improve the roster. At the wide receiver position, the Jets need Santonio Holmes back healthy and they need Stephen Hill to make a big jump in Year 2. Jeremy Kerley quietly had an excellent second season and he should only get better. They most recently brought in former Seahawk WR Ben Obomanu and he was a solid special teams performer in Seattle. Three months remain before the season opener, so a lot of time remains for the Jets to tinker with their roster.
Q: Eric, I'm wondering if anyone's pointed out the fact that the art work of you looks absolutely nothing like you?(beard or not) This cartoon image looks a lot more like David Feherty the golf announcer.
EA: Well I do change my appearances quite a bit, but my good friend Mike Scott did an awesome job with that avatar and his other drawings over the years including on my twitter page: @eallenjets.
Transcripts of Mark Sanchez's and Geno Smith's news conferences in the locker room following Wednesday's OTA practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center :
QB MARK SANCHEZ
On the difference between this week and last weekÖ
Same old, I think guys are just getting more and more comfortable with the system, Marty [Mornhinweg]'s calls, his mannerisms, what heís thinking on specific plays and reads, but I thought itís been heated competition, itís been fun over every position. I think guys are working hard. Weíre right at that point where weíre ready for minicamp. Weíll see.
On practicing the red zone offenseÖ
Any time you do red zone in practice, itís not like a game where youíve game-planned for specific looks and boom, itís either wide open or itís not and weíre kicking field goals, scoring points and feeling good no matter what. Against our defense, theyíll troubleshoot your protections, theyíll make you get to your checkdowns, theyíll force you to throw the ball away at times. So weíre really just working on our timing and then reacting to what theyíre doing, instead of really game-planning for something. So in an 18-play period, if you score a couple times and you have to throw the ball away, well, you just have to make the right decision and understand that youíre throwing the ball away more than you really would in a game.
On whether the defense has been doing well in practice because itís so good or because itís familiar with the personnel and what the offense is runningÖ
A little bit of both, our familiarity with their system at times at certain positions, whether itís Nick [Mangold] or myself, who have played against Rex [Ryan]'s defense for a while, but then trying to reiterate that knowledge to other guys and pass that on to anticipate some things. Itís a little different than a gameplan, but I thought we got some good plays in there, I thought we scored a couple times down on the goal line, we got some timely completions and played well for the most part. But itís been good the last few days.
On if heís where he wants to be with his grasp of the offenseÖ
I think so, nine OTAs in, and whatever we had before that, some workouts, some meetings. I think this is right where weíre supposed to be. Weíre starting to turn the corner there where weíre starting to be a little sharper, certainly anticipate some things and understand some of the what-ifs of each play and not just the perfect look. I think weíre doing well.
On having receivers miss time due to injuryÖ
I think you just have to control what you can. Whether itís a rookie free agent, whether itís a veteran, a guy that we just signed in [Ben] Obomanu, it doesnít matter. Whoeverís out there, you expect them and trust them to run the right routes, be at the right spot at the right time, and if theyíre not, you just go to your next progression and move on. If that means itís a throw-away drill, then thatís all you can do. So thatís really where my focus is at, just getting the protection right, feeling good about knowing where my hots are, and then going through the progression.
On if he thinks his top receivers will be ready for minicampÖ
I have no idea. I have no idea whatís going to happen with Tone [Santonio Holmes], if heís going to be ready to go, and then, Stephen [Hill], Clyde [Gates], JK [Jeremy Kerley] was out there a little bit today. So weíll see. I have no idea.
On the receivers staying healthyÖ
You just try to stay healthy, push those guys along. I know [head athletic trainer] John Mellody is doing everything he can with his staff to get those guys back, but you have to come in in shape ready to go and you have to try to avoid those injuries at all costs because it makes things harder. This is the time where you really develop timing and chemistry with your wide outs.
When you donít have them out there, you just have to do the best job you can with the guys you have and I think theyíve done a great job of stepping up. There are guys that nobody has heard of that have really made a name for themselves in these camps. Weíve come up with some funny nicknames for some of them because you donít even know their names and theyíre just in there. But thatís all part of the deal and it makes it fun.
On which unheralded player has the funniest nicknameÖ
Iíll keep it private.
On Geno Smithís performance so far and being comfortable with Coach MornhinwegÖ
I think Geno is doing a great job. I think heís working hard. Heís studying and really doing his best. I just feel comfortable. I feel like this is the kind of coordinator and system that puts you in a good spot. I think Martyís real intent is to get us to really understand what heís talking about, exactly what he wants us to do, listen to him every detail and go make it happen.
There are a couple times a game where heís always told us that youíre going to be on your own. Thereís going to be somebody free. Thereís going to be a look we didnít expect and thatís when heís going to trust us to make the right decision. Every other time, you have to just trust him and do exactly what he says. I feel good about the competition and I think Iím having one of my best offseasons.
On if he thinks this is the first time the media has charted Smithís passesÖ
I donít think anybodyís gone through that in college. Thatís a whole new animal, especially here in this market. Itís just a part of the deal and what you sign up for. But Iím just worried about what weíre doing on the field. What anybody on the outside is charting, I donít have any control over that. Iím just worried about getting completions. Iím worried about talking to Coach [David] Lee, seeing what his feelings are on practice, Coach Mornhinweg, getting with the offensive line coach [Mike Devlin], going over protections, those are the things that are important. Anything else is really unimportant.
On throwing the ball away more now compared to past offseasonsÖ
I think itís been more prevalent in this offseason just because of putting in a new system, working against a new defense, working against exotic looks, having a lot of young guys play, thereís a few miscommunications out there. So when that happens, just get rid of it, dirt it and move on to the next play.
On if he felt the team was behind going into last season due to receivers being injured throughout the offseasonÖ
You can never point out things like that as youíre going into a season. Youíre just getting ready for the season. Whoeverís up is up. Looking back on the whole season, we didnít have a healthy receiver from the beginning of the offseason to the very last game we played. We never had everybody out on the field that was on paper a starter. I think maybe one preseason game. But other than that, itís been that way the last two years, so thatís just the way it goes.
On competing for the starting spot this seasonÖ
Iíve competed my whole life, whether it was in high school or college, beating out other quarterbacks my first year here playing with Kellen [Clemens], thatís all Iíve known. So this is nothing new. Itís nothing big or scary. Iím just being myself and doing my very best and that will be good enough.
On the competition being wide open for the first time in his NFL careerÖ
I think that first year it was.
On being in a wide-open competition for the first time since his rookie yearÖ
So itís just like college, itís just like my first year.
On if he enjoys being pushedÖ
It doesnít bother me. Iím apathetic to it.
On feedback from the coachesÖ
They let you know when you do well. They let you know when you donít. Iíve heard some good things. I think Iím making good decisions out there. I think Iím taking care of the ball well. I think my accuracy is where it needs to be and I think itís just one of those things, you keep fighting, you keep working and try to improve every day. And that will be good enough.
On the two-minute drill in the current systemÖ
Itís a little different. Each coach has their own specific two-minute package. Some of the main things stay the same. You want to start the very first play with a completion, a positive run or whatever it is, you have to get a first positive play, or else you put yourself in deep. Avoiding sacks and penalties is huge. Knowing every way possible to stop the clock, whether that means, we went through a great lesson last week with the defense with a guy getting hurt on offense without a timeout, so when somebody gets hurt on offense and you donít have a timeout and they stay on the field due to injury, youíre losing that timeout or you could get a runoff depending on where the clock is in the game. So little things like that you go through and personnel substitutions and stuff.
I really enjoy the system as a whole. The two-minute is no different. I think a lot of times in two-minute those basic plays, those quick completions, things like that, just catch a defense off guard. The faster you can line up, the faster you can communicate, the better you do. And sometimes itís the easiest stuff that works.
On what he thinks of his current situationÖ
Iím having a great time. Iím in an awesome situation. Iím the luckiest guy in the world. Thatís how I always feel. I just have a positive attitude. Iím trying to bring those guys along, get guys working hard, study my butt off and prepare each day. Whether itís a competition or whatever you call it, Iím going to be ready. Iím going to give it my best, feel good about it and move on. Anything on the outside, I just canít help. We talked about it last week, whether itís criticism about this or that, or what youíre wearing or who youíre seeing, who cares? Honestly, who cares? Iím just worried about moving the ball downfield trying to hit where Iím aiming at, getting the ball in the end zone, advancing the team and making good decisions. Other than that, sorry.
On being constantly scrutinizedÖ
Of course, thatís just the way it is.
On if he has a good enough grasp on the system to run it when the season startsÖ
Oh yeah, Iíll be ready for that. I feel good enough, even if we had to do it today. I feel good with this stuff to have a brief study session like that.
On Mornhinweg relating to playersÖ
Just to see the way Marty installs plays, he can reach everybody in the room. Weíre talking about guys from different walks of life, whoíve grown up differently, whoíve experienced different things, and sometimes one analogy doesnít blanket everybody and make sure everybody gets it. Marty just has a way of explaining it and it comes from his experience. Heís explained it to thousands of players. That kind of experience that he can lean on, it really helps.
Knowing specific looks, specific situations, going through every different coverage on a specific play when itís an important red zone play, those things are huge and when you hear your coordinator say that, it just gives you confidence. You know for a fact heís got this down, everything heís telling you. Those things are gold. I donít think Iíve gone through more notebooks ever. Everything heís saying is important stuff and it gives me confidence knowing that heís going to put me in a good spot and now itís my job to go make the throw.
On if Geno Smith will be at Jets WestÖ
I have no idea.
On Steve Young saying he saw him to be a broken-down quarterback and if he felt that wayÖ
Not at all, Just because you lose games, whether itís a few games in a row over a couple of seasons, regardless of circumstances, personnel issues, things like that, your confidence doesnít change. If weíre going out to play another game, Iím expecting to win. Nothing changes, no matter whoís out there, no matter whoís on my team or their team, Iím going to go win. Thatís what we did those first couple years. We had a little rough patch here and weíll dig our way out. Each year is a whole new animal. Weíll attack that way, but my confidence has not wavered.
On what he would say to Jets fans about the starting quarterbackÖ
Donít worry about that. Jets fans will be fine. Theyíll be fine. Theyíre loyal and weíll be just fine.
QB GENO SMITH
On his progression in OTAs Ö
Progressing well. Becoming more and more comfortable with the offense, scans. Being able to see things a lot quicker. Still, a lot of work to go, a lot more practices ahead of me. Up until this point I feel that I have had some really good strides and have been making really good improvements.
On how the defense challenges himÖ
They challenge us every day. Not only from a physical standpoint but having really good athletes, guys who can fly around, defensive linemen who run like linebackers and linebackers who run like safeties and corners. A mental standpoint. They mix up the coverages, they do a great job disguising blitzes. It really helps us prepare. Watching film on these guys is really helping me out a lot because Iíve been able to adjust, do different things on the fly. But like I said, there is still a lot to be done at this point. Iím still working, still learning.
On Muhammad Wilkersonís joke that it wasnít his dayÖ
First of all thatís Mo [Muhammad Wilkerson]. Heís a great player. Heís one of the best defensive tackles, I think in my opinion in the league. He flies around. Youíll see that guy, I'll scramble and break the pocket and heís right there on my trail. I set up to throw and heís athletic enough to jump. He makes it difficult on all of us. Itís just good to have guys like that out there competing and just welcoming me into the NFL.
On if he experienced guys playing like that at West VirginiaÖ
Not at practice. Not every single day. I think thatís the blessing of being here. Being able to see Rexís defense, being able to see guys like Mo, Antwan Barnes, Quinton Coples, Sheldon Richardson, big cornerbacks like Cro [Antonio Cromartie]. All of these guys out there on defense. Theyíre vets, they know what they are doing. They come to compete daily. I think that really helps the team.
On how he measures his progressÖ
First of all itís just bringing it to practice, coming to practice ready to compete, coming to practice focused, ready to go. Taking advantage of every single rep, mental reps even when Iím not in. Just learning from every single experience. Obviously the coaches are going to do the grading but you have pretty much the knowledge of where you did good, where you did bad. I mean every quarterback, every player has that. Once you get into the film room Coach Lee, Coach Mornhinweg they do a great job relaying messages to us. Letting us know, hey you need to do better here maybe speed my feet up here, maybe get the ball out quicker here. Every single day is a learning experience and really thatís how I grade myself.
On if it feels like this is a fierce quarterback competition...
Yes, it does. Every single day in practice we compete hard. Not just on team periods, but itís in walkthroughs. Itís in individual periods, itís in everything. Thatís the nature of the game. Itís just good to have a guy like Mark whoís welcome to teaching me things, heís open to the completion. Heís great spirited about it. It really allows us to get along off the field, but on the field still compete and still fight for the job.
On if he is enjoying the competitionÖ
Yes. I enjoy playing football, I enjoy every day of practice. I enjoy all of this. It comes with the territory. I am extremely blessed to be in the NFL. I just try and take full advantage of my opportunity.
On what he has learned since joining the teamÖ
Some things I learned is just, just how to be a pro, how to do things in the right manner, how to conduct yourself. Thatís something I really didnít need to learn, just learn how to deal with everything that comes with it. Also just learning on the field. Being able to catch up to the speed of other guys out there like the vets. Like I said, they know exactly what theyíre doing and they just fly around out there. Being in competition with Mark, and being able to go out there and compete. Learning from Coach Lee, Coach Mornhinweg, trying to understand the offense fully. Everything is just a learning process. Every single thing that I go through on a daily basis is going to be a learning process for me.
Every day in the professional world is and I take advantage of it to and to use it to learn from it.
On what he has learned specificallyÖ
On if he had learned the read option at West VirginiaÖ
My first two years, when Coach Stewart was head coach, under Dan Miller, Jeff Miller, Iím sorry, Jeff Miller. We had pretty much a west coast style. We also ran some read option. I think itís just a good way to keep defenses honest. Itís become a trend more in the NFL with athletic quarterbacks. Itís something Iím welcome to doing and I take full advantage of those reps out on the field.
On if Coach Mornhinweg will try to incorporate it this seasonÖ
I donít know how much of it we will use. I think it all depends on the game plan but weíre working it right now.
On if today was one of the tougher days for the offenseÖ
I think itís just best that we go out there, compete and learn from it. You have your ups and downs. Sometimes the offense is going to win, sometimes the defense is going to win some drills. The key thing is that you learn something from every single snap and every single rep. Thatís what I try and do when Markís in, even when Iím in, with Greg [McElroy] in and when Matt [Simms] is in, just trying to take mental reps and when Iím on the field just trying to maximize the reps that I do have.
On getting Holmes and Hill backÖ
I think it will help. Those guys are great receivers. Those guys also bring a great dynamic to the offense, but like I said, we have to take advantage of what we have here now. The guys that we have in are out there competing their butts off, doing a great job of getting in and out of reps, in and out of routes, and just doing a great job overall. The offensive line did a tremendous job of picking up blitzes and protecting today. Overall I think the offense is still progressing and I think guys are still learning, but weíre still working at it.
On if he feels that he will have enough time to be the starter in Week 1Ö
Thereís no timeline on that. Itís just about maximizing the reps I have out here on the practice field. Whether or not I will be ready or not totally depends on that day and weíre far from that. I canít even set my mind on it. Iím just focused on what I have here now.
On if he is encouraged by the successful rookie quarterbacks last seasonÖ
They all went through the same process that Iím going through now. Every single quarterback is different. Every single situation is different, so Iím not going to try and look at theirs and compare it to mine. Iím just going to work on what I have here and thatís getting better in practice and making sure that I bring it to practice every day, the meeting rooms. Every single time I step into this building, being honed in and being focused.
On if it would be beneficial for him to watch early on in his careerÖ
Like I said, everything happens with time. Iím not going to put a timeline on anything. Iím just going to continue to focus on what I have here and thatís working hard. That happens day by day. You canít look ahead and you canít look behind you. Especially not at this position. Iím just focused on what I have to do now and thatís compete.
On if it is hard to be leader in the NFL like he was in collegeÖ
I donít think so. I think my job is to be a leader and that comes natural. Itís not about putting on a faÁade or acting in a certain way. I just go out there and do things that come natural to me. I go out there and try to motivate the guys. I try to talk to them as much as I can. I donít really see guys as being down or spirits being down. I think we have a really good group of guys who compete and they keep their heads up Ė good or bad plays. Because youíve got to focus on the next play, not the last play.
On what qualities make for a good quarterbackÖ
Thereís a number of traits. I think that the biggest think is winning games Ė figuring out ways to win games.
One the veteran players helping and leading the rookiesÖ
The vets did a great job of welcoming us in. Weíre all out there competing. Weíre all out there on the same side of the ball. I donít think itís a situation where guys are like Ďyouíve got to do this or do that.í Guys are teaching us. Weíre learning and thatís the good thing about it. I donít see anyone giving those vibes. Now thatís just my opinion, but overall I think itís been great.
On how he has been a leader with the rookies..
Itís been the same thing. I just continue to do things that have gotten me here, which is be myself. I donít stray away from that. I have trust in my abilities but at the same time I understand that hard work and preparation is whatís going to get you there. So thatís what Iím trying to do and when Iím out on the field, I communicate with the guys. Theyíre all very friendly. Itís not hard to along with any of them.
On the claim that he has been a more vocal leader with the players this weekÖ
I think that is just an opinion. One opinion.
On why he and Sanchez are talking differently about being the starting quarterbackÖ
I donít know. You can tell me better than I can tell you that. Like I said, I think thatís opinionated. Like I donít interview Mark. Itís not a thing with me about whether he saying one thing and Iím saying another. Itís just about us competing and thatís what we do. We have a really good relationship on and off the field.
On if he feels that he has to take the starting job from Sanchez since he is the incumbentÖ
Iíve got to work. Thatís what Iíve got to do and thatís what I plan on doing. Iíve got to go in with the right mindset, come in with the right mindset and take advantage of my reps and prove to the coaches whether or not I should be the starter. And I think we all do here. Thatís Rexís motto and thatís playing the Jet way. Just work hard and things will happen.
On if he considers each practice as an opportunity to get betterÖ
Thatís it. Thatís exactly it. Every single time I step out on the field. Sometimes I go out on my own and itís just about me getting better and trying to improve on things, daily. Even the small things, such as cadence and being able to spit out the information to get in and out of the huddle quickly. Itís just small things. I do that sometimes when Iím in my room. Sometimes Iím doing it on my own on the field and most of the time Iím out there with my teammates.
On if he sets weekly goals for himselfÖ
My goal is to keep learning, to keep studying, to keep improving.
Do you still expect to win the starting jobÖ
The Jets' 10th and final OTA practice session was scheduled for Thursday morning, but they took the day off for a team outing -- paintball. Some thoughts and observations on the OTAs, based on the three practices that were open to the media:
New York Jets
1. No slack for Sanchez : Mark Sanchez has won 37 games for this franchise, including four playoff victories, but none of that matters anymore. Judging from Rex Ryan's comments, Sanchez is on equal footing with rookie Geno Smith. Ryan, fiercely supportive of Sanchez in the past, was noticeably lukewarm in his public comments, even chiding Sanchez three weeks ago when he threw three interceptions in one practice. On Wednesday, Ryan painted it as an even competition -- and that was telling. When the only experienced QB on the roster can't get an early hat-tip from the coach, it speaks volumes.Based on the distribution of reps, you'd have to say Sanchez is slightly ahead of Smith, but that doesn't mean a whole lot at this stage of the competition. The real story will be told in training camp. For those obsessed with stats, here you go: In the three open practices, Sanchez was 23-for-42 (55 percent) with three INTs, unofficially. Smith was 16-for-28 (57 percent) with two interceptions. Despite some speculation, Ryan was never going to name a starter before training camp. It became a story Wednesday because, well, it was a slow football day in June.
2. Old times on defense : A few themes emerged. Ryan was hands-on in every practice and ran the defensive meetings, confirming what we've known for a few months: He will run the show on defense, as he did in 2009. New coordinator Dennis Thurman will have a key role in game planning, but the play calling will be handled by Ryan. It also became apparent the defense will be more multiple than last season. Ryan changed fronts, mixed personnel and showed different looks, keeping the offense off-balance. He said the goal is to "create more confusion." Shades of '09, when the Jets led the league in total defense. There was a noticeable dropoff in their blitzing over the past two seasons. Ryan wants to crank it up again.
New York Jets
3. Walking on thin ice : It's too early to panic about the wide-receiver situation, but the recent spate of injuries should send a message to GM John Idzik: Don't make the same mistake your predecessor, Mike Tannenbaum, made last season. Tannenbaum admittedly failed to address the depth issue and it came back to burn him. Let's face it, Santonio Holmes is a question mark because of his surgically repaired foot; he likely will begin training camp on the PUP list. Stephen Hill, too, is a question. Do we really know if he can cut it as a starting receiver? Now there's a nagging knee issue. The only sure thing is Jeremy Kerley, but as we learned last season, you can't build a passing attack around a slot receiver. Idzik needs to import a veteran. Otherwise, it could be a repeat of last season.
4. MartyBall : New OC Marty Mornhinweg will bring some creativity to the offense, an element that was sorely lacking last year under Tony Sparano. In OTAs, we saw the return of the screen pass -- slip screens, bubble screens, you name it. Most of the passing game was quick and safe -- relatively safe, that is. When you have a rookie QB and a veteran who committed 26 turnovers last season, including a Butt Fumble, there's no such thing as completely safe. Mornhinweg also called some moving-pocket plays, allowing the offense to be less predictable by changing the launch point. He was known as a pass-happy coach with the Eagles; it'll be interesting to see how that style meshes with Ryan's defensive-minded, ball-control philosophy.
5. Here come the kids : First-round DT Sheldon Richardson was one of the stars in OTAs, demonstrating versatility and explosiveness. Yeah, he looked good in a helmet and shorts. Then again, what high draft pick doesn't? First-round CB Dee Milliner didn't participate, as he's still rehabbing from pre-draft shoulder surgery. A starting spot is waiting for him upon his return because it looks like Kyle Wilson will return to his nickelback role. Third-round G Brian Winters got some reps with the starters, but he's behind Willie Colon at left guard. It's early, but Idzik's first draft will have at least two major contributors in Week 1 -- Milliner and Richardson. Smith could be the third.
The offensively deprived New York Jets are already thin at wide receiver.
This week alone, receivers Santonio Holmes (foot), Stephen Hill (knee), Jeremy Kerley (hamstring), and Clyde Gates (hamstring) all missed practice time with injuries. Holmes, in particular, is in danger of landing on the physically unable to perform list (PUP), which would require him to miss the first six games of the regular season.
Should the Jets add a veteran wide receiver in free agency ? New general manager John Idzik cleared enough cap room this offseason for the Jets to add help at receiver.
Here are some big names at receiver who are available :
There is a lot of proven talent still on the market. Most importantly, there are healthy free agents who can get valuable practice reps in the Jetsí new West Coast offense.
Quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith need all the assistance they can get. Adding a veteran receiver should definitely be an option for the Jets this summer.
The Jetsí Jeff Cumberland was confident as an undrafted free agent, scrapping for a No. 3 tight end spot in 2010. And he was confident when he emerged from an injury-plagued 2011 to find himself getting first-string snaps in 2012 when Dustin Keller went down.
Following Kellerís departure in free agency, Cumberland remains the Jetsí primary option at the position ó and is hopeful he not only will be a starter, but one of the leagueís best."I feel like I can be one of the premiere, elite tight ends," said Cumberland, who is 6-4 and 260 pounds. "Iím big, Iím strong, Iím fast. I mean, I have all the tools to be one of the top guys in the league."
Cumberland was targeted 52 times last season, gaining 359 yards on 29 receptions and hauling in three touchdowns. He averaged 12.4 yards per catch and, according to the analytical site Pro Football Focus, did not allow a quarterback sack. He even lined up a bit in the slot, where he picked up 12 of his catches for 124 yards.The numbers were encouraging enough. He dropped just one catchable pass (30 of the 52 targeted to him were catchable) and the Jets decided to pass on other top-rated prospects at the position in the draft ó twice on Tyler Eifert in the first round, and once on Gavin Escobar in the second.
Cumberland, who figures to be the No. 1 tight end despite the Jets bringing in former No. 6 overall pick Kellen Winslow for a workout this week, thought his numbers last season were good enough to earn him the chance to come into camp as the clear-cut starter."Last year, I had more opportunities than people thought I would have had, and I took advantage of it," he said. "Itís allowed me to come out this year and start off and be counted as the No. 1 guy."With more responsibility comes more preparation. Cumberland, who once spent an injured season interning in the Jets sales department, is now burying himself in the new playbook.
If heís going to be a premiere tight end, he knows it will require better coverage recognition, route precision and blocking."Improving day by day, every single aspect of the game," Cumberland said. "From blocking, to picking up if itís man or zone or what coverage the defense is in. Every little aspect, because you can never be too good at one thing so every little aspect, if I can get better each day, it will help my game."Cumberland, 26, said heís going to wait to see who wins the quarterback competition and then align himself with the projected starter to begin developing chemistry.He and Mark Sanchez were on the field together for more than 500 snaps last season, but itís another new system. Marty Mornhinweg is preparing for his first year as the Jets offensive coordinator, and his offense will be significantly different than the past.
"This will be my fourth year and then this will be the third offense," Cumberland said. "So you have to learn the new offense, you have to catch on and you have to do it like that."He remains confident ó as confident as he was trying to make the roster three years ago.
"I never really looked at it as, ĎYouíre the second guy or youíre the third guy.í I always looked at it as the same," Cumberland said. "Iím a player and when they put me in the game and Iím supposed to make plays, thatís what Iím supposed to do."
Ex-Jets TE Dustin Keller : Expect good things from Mark Sanchez this year
Dustin Keller thinks there's a fire lit underneath Mark Sanchez.
Speaking on Siriux XM Sunday, the former Jets tight end and favorite target of Sanchez said that the incumbent quarterback probably didn't like the fact that the team took Geno Smith in the second round."It definitely lit a fire underneath him, I think," Keller said. "Iíve talked to him a couple times this offseason, and heís been working. So I think you can expect some good things from him.Ē
Keller, who signed with the Dolphins on a one-year deal this offseason, also took some time to reflect on his time with the Jets and the often-tumultuous atmosphere.
In some ways, it looks like he's happy he got out.
"There's always some type of nonsense," Keller said. "We didn't go to the playoffs the year before but it seemed like we were in the media more than anybody else for the wrong reasons and you never want that. Could that have anything to do with the season -- kind of -- things falling apart? I really don't know."
Keller always backed Sanchez during his time with the Jets, so his comments don't come as a huge surprise. The two are still good friends and keep in contact. But as mandatory mini camp gets started tomorrow, we'll see exactly how intense that fire is.
We count four truly "open" quarterback competitions in four NFL cities this offseason: Philadelphia, New York (Jets), Buffalo and Jacksonville.
The Eagles and Jaguars are splitting reps evenly between the combatants. The Jets are taking a different approach.ESPNNewYork.com's Rich Cimini notes that Mark Sanchez "exclusively" took reps with the first-team offense Tuesday, which has been the norm of late. Rookie Geno Smith ran with the second team.
We try not to read too much into practice snaps in the offseason, but this is mandatory minicamp. It's the culmination of all the team's offseason work. Smith very well could win the starting job in training camp, but Sanchez is going in as the clear starter for now.
The Jets seem committed to keeping Sanchez on the team. It will be a lot easier to bench Sanchez for Smith at some point than the other way around.