As all know, there is a huge different look to the defense, for the first time since Rex Ryan arrived. Gone are Sione Po’uha, Mike DeVito, Bart Scott, Aaron Maybin, and Eric Smith. In their places are younger, and faster players. The difference has been huge, and has not gone unnoticed by leader Antonio Cromartie.
Here is what he had to say on team speed :
It’s very noticeable. For one, you have guys running to the ball, soaring to the ball and that’s all that we’re trying to do. When you’re keeping things simple and making sure guys can go out there and play full speed, it makes things a lot easier for guys (to) go out there and go play full speed.With that, however, you need veteran leadership. That will come, with Cromartie on the outside, and you have Dawan Landry on the inside. It may be his first year here, but he has been in Rex’s defense before with the Ravens. Here is Cro on having Landry around:
Definitely, Dawan is doing a heck of a job for us. This is his sixth year in this defense, coming into this defense, so he’s only been two years removed from it. He knows the defense as a whole, he knows everything, (and) he knows all the answers, all of it. When you have a field general that knows the ins and outs, it makes things a little easier for the defensive backs and also for the linebackers.This defense has the potential to surprise people. With Cromartie at the helm, and his maturity, nothing seems impossible. If only the offense can keep up...
Lanier Coleman walked off the Jets practice field last week carrying four sets of shoulder pads. The defensive lineman was living the life of a rookie and carrying veterans’ pads was just one of his tasks.But Coleman is an unusual rookie. The 26-year-old has been away from the NFL for four years. The stars of his position group, whose pads he carried — guys like Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples — are three to four years younger than he is. A year ago, Coleman was coaching. Now, he’s back in pads.“It’s a lot of fun,” Colmean said. “[Carrying pads] doesn’t bother me. It’s not that bad. I feel like I’m paying my dues by doing that. It’s not like I have to buy the guys 27 pizzas.”
FANTASY ISLAND: Since trying out for the Vikings in 2009, Lanier Coleman played one year in the Arena Football League and was a coach at Cal, but the now 26-year-old defensive lineman is back trying to make the Jets’ roster.For Coleman, training camp life is the next step in a journey that began last fall when a co-worker convinced him to chase his NFL dream. Coleman was working as an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Cal when a fellow coach, Chris DiSanto, noticed something about Coleman.“It’s hard to be a coach and be around it if you think you should be out there,” said DiSanto, who now works for the Browns. “I always got the feeling that he really wanted to be out there and he believed he should be out there. I just tried to be a positive voice about going after that.”So DiSanto told Coleman he should give it a try. He pointed to Coleman’s size — 6-foot-4, 322 pounds — and his athleticism and said: “Why not you?”
Coleman was invited to Vikings minicamp in 2009 after he finished his college career at Louisiana-Lafayette. He did not make the team and spent a year in the Arena Football League before deciding to give up playing the sport to begin life as a strength coach.This spring, Coleman reached out to Jets defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, who had been with the Vikings for his tryout in 2009.“It was kind of nerve-wracking,” Coleman said. “I hadn’t talked to him for a while. I told him I’ve got a burning fire for this. I coach all these guys, who are pretty much the same age as me, on the weekends, doing what I want to do. I think I can do it again.”He had no football tape to show the Jets, so he emailed Dunbar videos of him doing freakish things in the weight room: 53-inch box jumps, 600-pound deadlifts, 405-pound power cleans.Dunbar got Coleman an invite to rookie minicamp in May. He impressed the Jets enough that they signed him, giving him a chance to compete in training camp.“I just was so happy for him that he set his mind way back in [last] September on this and he began to really believe in himself,” DiSanto said. “All the hard work, the running, the lifting, the taking care of himself, the phone call to coach Dunbar, it was all worth it.”
Now, Coleman is fighting to earn a roster spot.
“I think it was kind of sluggish at first, but I think he’s picking up things,” Dunbar said. “But when you hit people, you hit people. I think if you look at his body, he has a body built to hit people. It’s been a pleasant surprise to see some of the things he can do and progress from that first minicamp to now.”Coleman played just six snaps against the Lions in last week’s preseason opener. He probably will get a limited amount of time tonight against the Jaguars. His best hope probably is a spot on the practice squad, but Coleman is hoping his dream will continue.“I know that it’s going to be a very stressful and hectic stretch over the last couple of weeks, but I have the ultimate faith that I’m going to get better,” he said. “I know there are some things I need to polish off in my game. I really have faith that I have something the coaches want in this ball club. I have a lot to offer. I have a lot to improve on. I’ve had some setbacks, but I’m working to improve.”
Jaiquawn Jarrett came out of the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, and attended Fort Hamilton High School. He moved to Philadelphia for a few years, playing for Temple and the Eagles -- a second-round pick in 2011. Now he's back in New York, a Brooklyn kid whose wait-till-next-year story is happening this year.Jarrett is expected to start at free safety Saturday night for the Jets at MetLife Stadium. If he plays well against the Jaguars, he can nail down the starting job, beating out Antonio Allen. Jarrett was considered a long-shot candidate at the start of training camp, but he has impressed the coaches with his studious approach -- that, and he hit everything that moved last week against the Lions.
"The kid is hungry," secondary coach Tim McDonald said.
Jarrett was cut by the Eagles in the middle of his second season -- a stunning move. Teams don't cut high draft picks, not in their second season. Jarrett is one of only two second-round picks from 2011 not with his original team. The Jets invited him for a workout and signed him last New Year's Eve to a reserve-future contract -- the last act of the Mike Tannenbaum administration. "There could be a thousand things I could say that went wrong [in Philadelphia]," said Jarrett, declining to name any of them.Did the Eagles make a mistake or are the Jets so desperate for safety help that they're overrating his skills? Here's the take of one AFC scout: "He's an over-drafted player. I don't see a starter in my eyes, but he may have to be there. He's physical and will support the run, and he can be heady, but he's not the guy that will add range, ball hawking or speed to your back end."
The Jets believe they found something. Rex Ryan was so thrilled with Jarrett that he promoted him, on the spot, immediately after last week's game in Detroit.But, still, a former second-round pick on the street? Makes you wonder. "It happens every now and then," McDonald said. "Atmosphere ... attitude ... circumstances. I know one thing about the kid: The kid's got character, so it wasn't anything that had anything to do with his character. I'm excited about him. I think we got ourselves a pretty solid football player."
Quinton Coples suffered a hairline fracture in his right ankle and will miss three to four weeks, ESPNNewYork.com reported Saturday night. The good news is, he won't need surgery, according to a source. The impact of his absence:
1. Out two games ? Based on the timetable, Coples probably will miss the first two regular-season games -- the opener against the Bucs and, four days later, the Thursday night game in New England.
2. Stunting progress: Coples is learning a new position -- outside linebacker -- and will lose valuable practice time. It was clear, in the first two games, that he's still not comfortable on the edge in a two-point stance. At times, he takes wrong angles and fails to set the edge. He's still get familiar with the concept of playing in space. Make no mistake, this injury is a big setback in his development.
3. Replacement plan: Fortunately for the Jets, they have an experienced backup, Antwan Barnes. The problem is, Barnes, who plays in the sub packages, could be overworked as an every-down player. Other outside 'backers such as Garrett McIntyre and Ricky Sapp could be part of the replacement plan.
4. Inside job: The Jets will miss Coples' ability as an interior rusher. When they go to a four-man line in nickel, he lines up inside with Muhammad Wilkerson, forming an athletic inside tandem. This could be a factor against the Patriots, because you have to figure the Jets will be in nickel much of the game, facing Tom Brady & Co.
Through the four years of Rex Ryan’s reign, a lot of things have changed. Coaching changes around him have been made, players have come and gone…etc. However, one thing has always been a hallmark of his era, tough defense. During last night’s game, the team did have flashes of Rex Ryan defense. However, there was a point in the game when the Jets’ defense looked about as pedestrian as it has looked in 4+ years. Why?
The hurry up offense.
After the Jets opened the game with a solid drive to take a 7-0 lead, the Jaguars came back with a drive of their own. Running the hurry up, the Jaguars ran 7 plays to travel 80 yards, tying the game at 7-7 in only 2:50 seconds. Jacksonville kept the Jets off-balance with a drive consisting of 4 passes and three runs, culminating with a td pass from Gabbert to Reisner from five yards out.
The question that arises is this: Did Jacksonville show the league how to best the New York Jets’ defense ?
I mean, we all know that the hurry up is bound to give the offense an advantage. They know what play is coming, so they are ready to move at a quick pace. They can take control over the defense, by controlling the pace of the play. The defense has to hurry to the line, and does more reacting to the offense, rather than having the ability to be objective. The defense can’t substitute, and is stuck with the players that are on the field, so that will lead to mistakes, blown coverages, missed tackles due to fatigue…etc.
There are a couple of reasons, however, as to why this is particularly worrisome. The first is the fact that the Jets defense is younger than it used to be. This group consists of Quinton Coples, Sheldon Richardson, Mo Wilkerson, Dee Milliner, Demario Davis, and more. What does this group have in common? Youth. This group has many rookies and guys in their second years. It takes time to learn the speed of our game in the NFL, but these young players should have more energy and stamina. They have to be able to move ahead through it.
Secondly, they see the hurry up offense a lot. Specifically, they see it twice per year when they face the New England Patriots. They run it constantly against us. You would think the team would look better against it by now. Instead, Jacksonville went right down the field for the tying score.
Is this something we should be concerned about? Is the Jets’ defense tiring too fast? Is the rest of the league going to use this and take it to the Jets when they do ?
If Saturday night is any indication, Rex Ryan might not want to watch the Jets defense either this season.
Ryan’s beloved defense looked terrible Saturday night in the Jets’ 37-13 victory over the Jaguars. With all the attention focused on who will play quarterback, other positions on this team are getting less scrutiny. The defense has almost been treated like a given, but Saturday showed that unit has plenty of work to do.
“I don’t understand it,” Ryan said of the defense’s lack of intensity. “Clearly, our focus has been good in practice and things like that. It just seemed like, for whatever reason, it wasn’t there [tonight]. Poor tackling was a great indication of it. I was a little upset with some of the mistakes we made.”
CAN’T STOP ’EM: Jaguars tight end Allen Reisner gets away from the tackle of linebacker DeMario Davis for a touchdown during the Jets’ 37-13 preseason victory over Jacksonville on Saturday.
Blaine Gabbert led the Jaguars offense right through the Jets on the first two drives, resulting in 10 points. Take that in for a minute — Blaine Gabbert, one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL, carved up Ryan’s defense. Yes, it’s only preseason, but the Jets showed some worrisome signs.
The Jaguars used a hurry-up offense that kept the Jets on their heels and had them looking confused in coverage.
“We just couldn’t get off the field,” linebacker Calvin Pace said. “I thought we played better toward halftime, but if that was a [regular-season] game, that will get you beat. Again, this is a learning experience. Like I said, you live and you learn and you go get better. It’s never as good as you think it is, it’s never as bad. So, just keep it moving and try to get better.”
The Jaguars moved the ball 80 yards in seven plays on their first drive, ending with a Gabbert touchdown to tight end Allen Reisner. The entire series the Jets struggled in coverage and looked off balance when the Jaguars hurried to the line.
Then, there was the tackling. The Jaguars threw a few short passes to running backs and wideouts that resulted in big gains because the Jets simply could not tackle.
Linebacker David Harris played one of the worst games of his pro career, missing tackles, running behind in coverage and getting flagged for a late hit. But Harris was not the lone culprit. Pace, Quinton Coples and even Antonio Cromartie all missed tackles.
“We’ve just got to be better,” Pace said. “Our tackling was horrible. We’ve got to get back to the drawing board on Monday and get ready for the Giants [on Saturday].”
Rookie cornerback Dee Milliner had a rough night, and that has to be a major concern for Ryan. The Jets threw Milliner into the fire as soon as he reported for training camp, putting him in with the starters. He did not look ready against the Jaguars.
Ace Sanders caught a 35-yard pass against Millner on the first offensive snap for Jacksonville. Then Justin Blackmon repeatedly used the cushion Milliner gave him to get open.
“I didn’t like the way we competed and challenged on the outside — not so much Cromartie, but from Dee,” Ryan said. “When we call on him, I want him to get up there. Let’s go. Let’s play. We were off [the line of scrimmage] a little too much.”
You can bet Milliner and the rest of the Jets defenders will get an earful from Ryan this week. Eli Manning is waiting for them this weekend.
Last week, head coach Rex Ryan said he liked the way that the first-team defense stepped up and challenged the Lions’ offense.
Saturday night, his excitement for the defensive "ones" turned to confusion and disappointment.
“Our defensive intensity in the first half I thought was not to Jets standards,” the fifth-year head coach said.
“I don’t understand it," said Ryan, noting the unit’s missed tackles as one of the key issues. “Clearly, our focus has been good in practice and things like that. It just seemed like, for whatever reason, it wasn’t there.”
First Half: "Horrible" Tackling
The defense allowed 231 yards in the first half — 59 on the ground and 172 through the air. Nine different Jacksonville receivers caught a pass in the first two quarters of play.
Veteran LB Calvin Pace said he wasn’t prepared for the Jaguars’ up-tempo offense, but he gave no excuses.
“As a professional, you’ve got to be ready at all times,” the 11th-year LB said. “Our tackling was horrible.”
CB Antonio Cromartie knows that the team’s struggling to deal with the fast-paced offense in Saturday night’s preseason game is really a blessing in disguise.
“We were kind of glad we got a look at it,” the two-time Pro Bowl corner said. “It had us on our toes a little bit. You know it's preparing us for when we play New England with the hurryup offense.”
Ryan was not pleased with the play of his first-round rookie in the secondary, Dee Milliner.
“When we call on him, I want him to get up there,” Rex said. “Let’s go. Let’s play.”
“It’s the second preseason game for him,” Cro said of Dee, “and we expect more from him than we saw tonight. That’s something that he needs to learn from and he has to come out with a great attitude and get ready for the next week when we get ready to play guys like Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz.”
Second Half: "Outstanding" Intensity
The starters did end on a positive note, though. They came out onto the field to start the third quarter and forced their only three-and-out of the game, and that stop set the tone for the backups in the second half.
Despite a plethora of not-so-goods from the first-half defense, Ryan called the second group’s intensity “outstanding.”
“I loved the way we came out in the second half with the twos and that temperament that we carried onto the field,” Rex said. “They certainly were ready to play and they did a tremendous job.”
Down 13-10 at halftime, the twos and threes pitched a shutout in the third and fourth quarters and perhaps lit a spark in the offense as well, as the Green & White outscored the Jaguars 27-0 in the second half.
In fact, the Jets defense actually outscored the Jaguars offense in the second half as CB Mike Edwards recovered a fumble for a touchdown, falling on a high snap into the end zone with 2:44 left on the clock, capping our 37-13 victory.
“Coach Ryan basically challenged us to come out with a better intensity,” CB Darrin Walls said. “I think all the younger guys used that as motivation and took that as an opportunity to capitalize on.”
Walls had back-to-back plays, on second and third down, on which the Jaguars decided to throw to his guy. Both times he got his hands on the ball and forced incompletions.
“I got there so quick that I wasn’t expecting the ball to be in my hands,” Walls said of the first play. “It kind of surprised me a little bit.”
Leger Douzable was playing left end on a play when Jacksonville QB Chad Henne tried to hook up with WR Denard Robinson on a throw to the right sideline. Douzable wasn’t having any of that, as he stuck out his big left mitt and knocked the ball down.
“My mindset when I hit the ball was to try to bounce it up and catch it,” he said, “but it came off my hands too hot.”
While Douzable and Walls were unable to come away with turnovers, LB Danny Lansanah had the team’s lone interception on the night.
“Danny played a hell of a game,” Douzable said.
“We had fire zone pressure,” Lansanah said of the play that led to his interception of Henne, “and I’m taught to drop and replace the pressure, and that’s what I did. Just sit back and read the quarterback’s eyes, and he threw it and I caught it.”
The linebacker wasn’t too surprised he caught the ball, saying interceptions are “kind of like my specialty.”
While Lansanah had the team’s lone pick, fellow LB Ricky Sapp accounted for the Green & White’s only sack in the game, calling it a “blessing” just to get an opportunity to make a play.
“We came out here together,” Sapp said of the second-team D, “and had an attitude that we weren’t going to get scored on.”
he Jets' Plan to Replace Quinton Coples: Warm Bodies
Jets Hybrid Defender Coples Breaks His Ankle and Is Out Indefinitely
Antwan Barnes has been around the NFL long enough to know what everyone was going to say to Quinton Coples on Saturday night. Coples, a defensive end and linebacker for the Jets, had fractured his right ankle in the team's 37-13 preseason victory over Jacksonville, and in the locker room after the game, Barnes figured Coples's teammates would pat him on the shoulder and tell him to keep his head up.
"I made a joke when I first saw him," Barnes said. "I told him he was babying the injury."
That is about as much levity as the Jets will allow themselves in this situation. A first-round draft pick in 2012, Coples led the Jets with 5.5 quarterback sacks last season, and coach Rex Ryan had planned to use him in a special role as a combination end/linebacker this season to take advantage of Coples's speed relative to his size (6-foot-6, 290 pounds). Instead, after the team practiced Monday, Ryan reaffirmed what a team spokesman had said the day before: that Coples will undergo a "medical procedure" Tuesday and be out indefinitely.Jets defensive end Quinton Coples is out with a fractured right ankle.Assuming Coples heals in time to play again before the end of the regular season, Ryan said, he will return to that hybrid position. Until then, the Jets will have backup Garrett McIntyre move into the starting lineup as their strongside linebacker, and Barnes—whom the Jets signed in the off-season as a third-down pass-rusher—will see more action on first- and second-down plays.
"That is for emergencies," Barnes said, "and this is an emergency situation."
If nothing else, Barnes—who at 6-foot-1 and 251 pounds gives away five inches and 39 pounds to Coples—is well-versed in Ryan's defensive schemes and strategies, having played under him for two years with the Baltimore Ravens.
"I'm pretty much in shape for it," he said. "It's all about going out there and doing it. I know Rex wanted to save me for third downs, but in this type of situation, you've got to step it up, plug yourself in and play."McIntyre, who is 28 and isn't much bigger (6-foot-3, 255) than Barnes, is perhaps a more interesting case. It's all but impossible to travel a more circuitous journey to the NFL than he did. A non-scholarship defensive end at Fresno State, he led the Bulldogs with seven sacks in 2005. He went undrafted in 2006, and three NFL teams—Seattle, Arizona and Tennessee—signed and cut him during a four-month span.
"I didn't want to get a regular job right away," he said. "I knew I had some football in the tank."
In 2008, McIntyre signed with the San Jose Sabercats of the Arena Football League, then spent a year in the Canadian Football League with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. During his first practice with the Tiger-Cats, he said, he learned that in the CFL an offense gets just three downs to work with—not the four of American football.
"I had no idea," he said. "It was kind of a reality check."
The Jets signed him in January 2011, and he's played linebacker and special teams for them since, recording 3½ sacks last season. "In this game, you have to be able to adjust, and you have to be able to learn quickly," he said. "If you don't learn from your mistakes or a coach tells you that you can do something and you don't adjust quickly, you don't play for very long."
For a moment, New Rex disappeared and Old Rex returned.
Displaying vintage bravado, circa 2009-2010, Rex Ryan predicted Tuesday the New York Jets will finish with a top-five ranking in total defense. "We will be," he said. "Right now, we're not there. Obviously, we have to make some improvements, especially after this past week. But I'm certainly confident that we'll be where we always are -- or better."Ryan has a sterling track record as a defensive coach, but it still takes chutzpah to predict a top-five finish, considering the challenges. Remember, they traded CB Darrelle Revis, one of the top defensive players in the league, when healthy. They have seven new starters, including two rookies. They lost rush linebacker Quinton Coples (fractured ankle) for at least a month. And, oh, yes, they got shredded last week by the underwhelming Blaine Gabbert.But the defense, perhaps feeding off Ryan, is supremely confident. DE Muhammad Wilkerson said they have the potential to be the league's top-rated unit, a sentiment expressed recently by LB DeMario Davis. Wilkerson said Davis, one of the young leaders, stood up at a defensive meeting in Cortland and claimed they have No. 1 potential if they follow three simple fundamentals on a consistent basis:
Line up correctly. Know your assignments. Do your job.
"Last year, we finished eighth and had some bad games," Wilkerson said. "We weren't communicating well and we let people run the ball on us. If we do those three things, I don't see why we couldn't be No. 1."Davis said he derives much of his confidence from Ryan, whom he described as "a genius. He's a defensive guru."Yes, it's true, the Jets finished eighth in total defense a year ago, but they also ended 20th in points allowed for the second straight season. Under Ryan, the Jets have finished first, third, fifth and eighth in total defense, fattening up last year's stats on a bunch of horrible opponents at the end of the season. In the offseason, new GM John Idzik took a wrecking ball to the unit, letting some good players walk out the door, namely LaRon Landry and Mike DeVito.But Davis is right: Ryan is a terrific defensive mind, and he's running the defense once again on a day-to-day, hour-to-hour basis.
"We have a lot of good players," Ryan said. "There’s going to be a lot of new faces in there, but I guess, you put that decal on the side of your helmet, it says ‘New York Jets,' so you have to be special. You have to understand there are expectations that come along with it. I expect our guys to play extremely well."
With Quinton Coples slated for a medical procedure on his ankle Tuesday, the New York Jets are shuffling the depth chart in anticipation of their preseason game against the New York Giants on Saturday night.Ryan did not have any further details, but reiterated that Coples would be out indefinitely. Although Antwan Barnes is listed under Coples on the depth chart at outside linebacker, Ryan announced that Garrett McIntyre would take over Coples’ job for the time being.“He challenges guys,” Ryan said. “In the game, we had a corner cover a running back and Garrett had to cover the wideout in the slot. [He] never flinched, just got the job done, even though that wasn’t an ideal situation for us. Garrett’s just a guy [who’s] smart, knows the defense, we can plug him in a lot of different spots and he does a tremendous job. “
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound McIntyre had 3.5 sacks for the Jets in 2012, with 35 combined and 24 solo tackles. It’s a big leap for McIntyre, who at age 29 kept his football dreams alive after college playing in the Arena Football League and in Canada.“Unfortunately, Q went down,” McIntyre said. “My job is to be able to play both OLB positions, our Sam and our rush. So Q went down, the next guy’s got to step up.”Barnes (6-1, 251) will be brought in to rush the passer.
“I started when I was in San Diego,” Barnes said. “I started seven games, so I’m pretty much used to it. It’s all about going out there and doing it.”Damon Harrison, who has been filling in for defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis as he rehabs his injured back, said that Ryan likes to have all the defensive players familiar with all the other roles in their vicinity.“That’s just something that he stresses for everybody,” Harrison said, “to know what everyone else is doing on a particular play so just in case something like that does happen, anybody can fill in for everyone.”
McIntyre and Barnes said they had seen Coples in and around the facility getting treatment and that he seems to be doing well.“He’s in good spirits,” McIntyre said. “He’ll be all right, he’s going to be back quick.”
NY Jets’ Kyle Wilson corners market on versatility
Three years after the Jets drafted the former Boise State star in the first round, Wilson has reinvented himself to become a pivotal piece to a complex defensive puzzle.
Kyle Wilson is a utility guy who can play as many as four different positions on four consecutive plays.Kyle Wilson has blended into the background. His wild dreadlocks are gone. He doesn’t say much in the locker room.
Everything is perfect.
Three years after the Jets drafted the former Boise State star in the first round, Wilson has reinvented himself to become a pivotal piece to a complex defensive puzzle.Wilson is a man without a defined position, an amoeba in a scheme with perpetual moving parts. He is Rex Ryan’s own personal Jose Oquendo, a utility guy who can play as many as four different positions on four consecutive plays.
“Basically,” Wilson said with a laugh, “I just got to know everything.”
Wilson’s career arc has turned him into a human pinball, bouncing from inside to outside of defensive alignments. His listing as a second-string cornerback on the team’s official depth chart belies his true value to Ryan’s defense.Wilson will play outside cornerback, slot cornerback, safety in the base defense and safety in Ryan’s Big Nickel (three-safety) packages this season.Critics that suggest Wilson is a first-round disappointment are misguided. He may not be the shutdown outside cornerback that some may have hoped for, but his versatility has been invaluable for Ryan, whose defensive creativity is predicated on players who can do many jobs.Wilson won’t receive top billing on a defense that includes Pro Bowler Antonio Cromartie and rising star Mo Wilkerson, but Ryan realizes his importance in the system.“You can’t really put a finger on what I’m specifically doing,” Wilson said. “I strive to be the best at whatever (spot) I’m in. I expect to be making plays like anybody else.”Wilson’s varied skill set and willingness to be a jack-of-all-trades will be essential if Ryan has a chance of delivering on his recent promise that the Jets will have a top -five defense.
Ryan, defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman and defensive backs coach Tim McDonald have challenged Wilson to absorb a multifaceted role. McDonald, a former perennial Pro Bowl safety, has a simple yet powerful teaching point for his pupil: Be good at your role. See it as one position. Be good at that position and good things will happen.Wilson has embraced that philosophy, constantly asking McDonald questions after practice or in meetings to clarify rules to polish his play. The fourth-year player routinely receives high grades from coaches in those varied roles.“That position is not for everybody,” McDonald said. “Kyle’s a sharp guy. He can handle a lot. If we’re not getting him to stress himself, then we’re not getting the most out of him and he’s not getting the most out of himself. So the key is to give him what he can handle. We wouldn’t give him that if he couldn’t handle it. So you can say it’s more difficult. Maybe it’s more difficult for another guy. It’s not more difficult for Kyle.”Wilson’s biggest challenge has been learning to compartmentalize within the larger defensive framework. Each play is different because of his ever-changing vantage point.“You just got to know to expect different things and see them from different angles,” Wilson said. “It’s challenging. But it’s something that I embrace. I like the role.”
Of course, he envisioned a very different role as the Jets’ top pick in 2010.
A crowded defensive backfield with Cromartie and Darrelle Revis moved Wilson to nickel cornerback. He adjusted to not having the boundaries as an ally. He moved back outside for the final 13 games last season when Revis suffered a season-ending knee injury. He also played some safety.Dee Milliner’s arrival bumped Wilson back inside. Ryan & Co. added regular safety responsibilities to Wilson’s plate in the offseason. His tackling prowess — he missed only five tackles last season, according to Pro Football Focus — is another hidden element of his game.“He’s willing to do all the work,” Cromartie said. “Can he play the outside? Yes. Where is he better at? I love him when he’s inside because he can do a lot of great things when he’s in the slot.”He does the unglamorous things, the dirty jobs that few people outside of the team notice. He doesn’t make excuses.“I love his attitude,” McDonald said. “Being a first-round draft pick, it may have been hard for him to understand where he fit, where he was going, what was happening. He knows what his role is now. Instead of worrying about where he’s playing at, he’s learned those roles and taken the bull by the horn.”
Wilson is happy, relaxed and as important as he’s ever been. Buoyed by a strong work ethic, he recast himself.
With Quinton Coples out for an indefinite amount of time, Garrett McIntyre has the green light to get upfield. He will start at the Rush ‘backer spot Saturday night for the Green & White and McIntyre’s primary charge will be to put Eli Manning on his backside.
“I guess to make it simple, the SAM backer (strongside linebacker) has a little bit more coverage stuff where the Rush is a little bit more going to get the quarterback kind of like it says,” he told me on “Jets Talk LIVE” this week. “Rush — go rush the quarterback. A little bit more on the line, kind of hand in the dirt defensive end where the SAM is kind of a stand-up maybe more coverage than going forward.”
Last season, McIntyre set career-highs with 3.5 sacks and 39 tackles in 16 games. The 6’3”, 255-pounder worked on his game in the offseason in an effort to become more versatile. While McIntyre will be asked to attack the passer more often than not, occasional coverage duties are required.
“Being able to transition in my drops with my hips and stuff, just running that way and doing a lot of dropping stuff,” he said. “I’ve always been like a natural defensive end so the whole dropping stuff is kind of a new concept, but I’ve got better as the years have gone on. I guess knowing the defense too, knowing it like the back of my hand so I can play many different things.”
McIntyre’s perspective changed in a big way just a few months ago when his wife, August, gave birth to twin girls.
“That’s my life. Those are my beauties,” he said of little Summer and Harper. “They’re just over three months now, twin girls. This year, they were born during OTAs and I had to shoot back to California real quick to see the birth of my children. They’re the reason I work every day — they are my life.”
The girls are McIntyre’s little blessings. He laughed when I asked about his reaction when August told him twins were on the way.
“Oh Man. I was stunned at first. It happened so fast,” he said. “My wife came home and told me. She had this look in her eyes and I could tell that either something was really wrong or something was really out of the ordinary. She told me to sit down and she told me. I’m always one to just roll with the punches.”
Taking the longest of roads to the NFL, McIntyre refused to get knocked out along the way. He played two seasons of Arena ball with the San Jose Sabercats from 2007-’08, racking up six sacks. Then he moved northeast to Canada and the Fresno State product collected nine sacks and 51 tackles with the Hamilton Tiger-cats from 2009-’10. Then he got his break back in the NFL when he inked a free agent deal with the Jets on Feb. 9, 2011.
“In the offseason, you don’t have OTAs and stuff,” he said of playing in the Arena and Canadian leagues. “So it’s pretty much six months on, six months off. You can kind of do what you want, so I poured foundations one year up in Tahoe where I’m from with my Dad. I got into personal training and I was doing that for a couple offseasons, so you have to work in the offseason.”
When McIntyre flashed in his first preseason with the Jets, Rex Ryan referred to the defender with a high motor as “Canada.” But the veteran OLB has earned his place in the NFL and on the Jets, so he goes by something simpler nowadays.
“He calls me Garrett,” said McIntyre of Rex Ryan. “He calls me by my name.”
The New York Jets' offense had it rough, but the defense provided a few reasons for optimism in Saturday night's preseason win.
1. Forget it: The Jets gave up an 84-yard touchdown run to Giants RB David Wilson on the team's first play from scrimmage. It was costly and set a horrible tone, but it was the last big play the Jets allowed. For the rest of the first half, the defense held Eli Manning and the Giants' first-team offense to only a field goal.
2. Damon Harrison and depth: The defensive end, filling in for Kenrick Ellis (back), led the defense with seven tackles. He and Garrett McIntyre, who was in for Quinton Coples (ankle), showed that the defense could have some depth along the line and OLB spots.
3. Sack Exchange: Three Jets recorded sacks, including rookie defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson. His addition to the defensive line looks to make it a formidable front when Ellis returns along with Muhammad Wilkerson. The other two sacks were courtesy of Tevita Finau and Leger Douzable.
On the first play of the night for Eli Manning and the Giants offense,RB David Wilson took a handoff and ran to the left.Thirteen seconds later,he was crossing into the end zone for an 84-yard touchdown run.Just like that,we were in the hole,down 7-0But the defense threw the shovels down and stopped digging any deeper, eventually leading the Jets to their 24-21 overtime triumph at MetLife Stadium.
Two men clogging up the middle — Damon “Snacks” Harrison and Sheldon Richardson — were major contributors in tonight’s defensive effort. While Richardson was eventually projected to be a key contributor along the D-line after the Jets selected him with the 13th overall pick of April’s draft, Harrison has been thrown into a starting role for the second consecutive week as DT Kenrick Ellis continues to rest with a back injury.“Consistency is something that I’ve been trying to work on,” Harrison said. “I’ve been having some up-and-down weeks. For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t worried about much. Tonight I just let it go.”Richardson entered the Week 3 MetLife Trophy battle with a team-high 14 tackles. The next-closest Jet, Dawan Landry, came in with eight. Snacks’ five tackles, meanwhile, trailed only Sheldon among Green & White defensive linemen.Harrison continued to take advantage of his increased opportunities with a pair of key plays in each of the first two quarters, while the rookie out of Missouri showed once again why we were so excited to obtain him with our second pick of the first round.
On the Giants’ second drive of the night, Harrison powered his way into the backfield and stopped Wilson in his tracks before a teammate helped finish the play for a 2-yard loss. Two drives later, Demario Davis’ blitz pressured Eli Manning on a screen pass to the running back, leading to a tackle for loss on the play for the second-year man out of William Penn.In the second quarter, Snacks came up with two third-down stops of RB Andre Brown. The first tackle for no gain forced a Giants punt.“It was good penetration by Muhammad [Wilkerson] and Sheldon on the play,” he explained, “which forced it to come back in the middle and it just so happened I was in the right place at the right time.”His second tackle of Brown at the line was at a crucial moment in the game. On third-and-goal from the 2-yard line, the Giants' fifth-year RB tried to carry the ball up the middle for the score, but Harrison wasn’t having any of it and stuffed him for no gain. The G-Men failed to come away with any points after a fourth-down incompletion.
“Everybody just did a good job of hunkering down and forcing him to come back to me, and I was just the cleanup guy," Harrison said.
Not to be outdone, Sheldon Richardson beefed up his own preseason highlight reel with a pair of impressive plays. He recorded his first NFL sack, a 7-yard loss of Manning that contributed to a three-and-out by the Big Blue in the first quarter. In the second quarter, the 6’3”, 294-pound defensive lineman showed off his athleticism again, this time running toward Manning with his hands up and forcing an incompletion by the two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback.The two young DTs combined for ten tackles in the first half of tonight’s New York-New York matchup. According to pressbox statistics, Harrison's seven tackles and Richardson’s two QB hits were both team highs.
Injured Jets rookie cornerback Dee Milliner (calf) expects to play in the season opener on Sept. 8 against Tampa Bay. He will not play in Thursday's preseason finale against Philadelphia."I'm going to do what my trainers tell me to do," Milliner said after sitting out Tuesday's practice. "Try to progress on it and be aggressive in my rehab." Milliner described his injury as calf tightness and said he hasn't been practicing because the team wants to prevent the injury from getting worse. He had been dealing with the tightness in his left calf, but it flared up last week and started bothering him more than usual. He missed all of last week's practices.
The No. 9 pick in this year's draft already has missed time this year due to a contract holdout, and he missed OTAs and minicamp due to a March 12 surgery he underwent to repair a torn labrum.
Milliner has already had five surgeries.
"I've been rehabbing every day, being aggressive with it, rehabbing, doing everything," Milliner said of his calf tightness. "It's been doing great."
Milliner is projected to be one of the team's starting cornerbacks, opposite Antonio Cromartie, but due to this injury, he will enter the regular season having played in just two preseason games. He also missed last Saturday's overtime win against the Giants.In the last game he played against Jacksonville on Aug. 17, he drew some criticism from head coach Rex Ryan for being too soft in his coverage. The Jets like to employ a tight coverage scheme, and it was a staple of former Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, who Milliner will be replacing on the outside. "I didn't like the way we competed and challenged on the outside -- not so much Cromartie, but from Dee," Ryan said on Aug. 17.
"When we call on him, I want him to get up there. Let's go. Let's play."Milliner doesn't believe missing this time has set him back, but acknowledged that getting those extra reps would help. He said it's "very disappointing" to miss a pair of preseason games, as Milliner wants to be out there with his teammates and get into the flow of things. "Very much looking to get back on the field," Milliner said. "Had a couple of bad hiccups, bad plays here and there. Looking forward to getting back on the field and redeeming myself."The cornerback appreciated that Ryan called him out after the Jacksonville game. Cromartie, who is also injured and won't play Thursday, also gave the rookie a pep talk after Milliner allowed a pair of completions against the Jaguars.
"Like [Ryan] said, I do need to be more aggressive. That's part of him being a coach. I'm glad he criticized my game because as a coach I like that," Milliner said of Ryan. "I could have been more aggressive, though, at times."
Interesting night for a couple of Jets cornerbacks.
Rookie Dee Milliner, who didn't play in the Jets' 27-20 victory over the Eagles, was seen leaving MetLife Stadium in a walking boot. The top pick has been dealing with a calf injury for a couple of weeks, but this was the first time he was seen in a boot -- hardly the picture you want to see 10 days before the season opener.
Another interesting scene: Nickel CB Kyle Wilson, working with the starters in Milliner's place, started and played much of the first half. Rex Ryan rested nearly every starter and key reserve, so it was a surprise to see Wilson so involved in the final preseason game.
Teams often have a hidden agenda when giving a veteran significant playing time in the finale, perhaps showcasing him for a trade.
"We want to get Kyle some returns," Rex Ryan said. "That was the main thing because he's our backup kickoff returner and punt returner. You don't want to throw him out there just to do that specifically, so we put him out there on the corner and let him have at it."
Wilson didn't return any kickoffs; he had one punt return for six yards. The Jets' top cornerback, Antonio Cromartie, got the night off.
Jason's horror show: The Jets' pass protection in the first half was brutal, to use one of Ryan's favorite words, largely because veteran LT Jason Smith was a human turnstile. Unofficially, Smith allowed three of the seven sacks. The Jets, looking for a backup swing tackle, re-signed him last week, thinking he'd be a veteran presence. Now they may have to look elsewhere.
Afterward, Smith "respectfully" declined to comment.
With the starters resting, the Jets' line, from left to right, was Smith, rookie Brian Winters, Caleb Schlauderaff, Vladimir Ducasse and Oday Aboushi. Smith didn't play the second half and the Jets didn't allow a sack. Coincidence?
One and done: Newly signed QB Graham Harrell, who arrived Wednesday, played a grand total of one snap -- a kneel-down at the end of the game. The Jets have five quarterbacks on the roster. Ryan didn't rule out the possibility of keeping four. Greg McElroy, who aggravated a knee injury in practice, didn't play.
The quarterback competition draws all the attention around the Jets, but the tightest competition might be at safety.
Antonio Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett have fought all summer for the starting job and it remains unclear who will get the nod after the team completed its preseason last night with a 27-20 win over the Eagles.
“I think it’s maybe a little too close to call. We’ll see,” coach Rex Ryan said. “Certainly we’ll evaluate it all on tape. We know we’ve got a couple of good football players there. Both guys had their moments today as well.”
Jarrett got the start against the team that drafted him in the second round of the 2011 Draft. He finished with six tackles in the game. Allen, a seventh-round pick in 2012 by the Jets, had four tackles but also had an interception of Eagles quarterback Matt Barkley that he returned for a touchdown.
Paul J. Bereswill (2)
SAFETY FIRST: Antonio Allen returns an interception for a touchdown during the fourth quarter of the Jets’ 27-20 win over the Eagles in their preseason finale. Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett (inset) are battling for the starting safety spot, but still teamed up to make a tackle on Jeff Maehl.
“I think I competed pretty well,” Allen said. “ J.J., he came out there tonight and he had a nice game. I did all right. I had the pick in the end but I still played all right. There’s still things I need to clean up.”
Allen said he does not know when the coaches will tell them who the starter against the Buccaneers will be when the regular season opens but he expects both of them to play in three-safety looks anyway.
* The Jets rested almost all of the players who will see a lot of playing time in the first game of the regular season. The only exceptions were guys competing for starting spots at guard and safety ... and Kyle Wilson.
The cornerback played the entire first quarter on defense and returned kicks.
“We really wanted to get Kyle some returns,” Ryan said. “I think that was the main thing because he is our backup kick returner and punt returner. We wanted to get him some returns. With that being said, you don’t want to just throw him out there just to do that so we put him out there on the corner and let him have at it.”
* With RB Mike Goodson suspended for the first four games, the Jets need a third tailback. They may have found their man in Kahlil Bell, who rushed for two touchdowns in the game.
* WR Mohamed Massaquoi left the game in the first half and had a full wrap around his torso.
* QB Graham Harrell, signed by the Jets on Wednesday, played one snap — a kneel-down to end the game..
The sling still hangs in Leger Douzable's locker, a constant reminder of how quickly life can complicate a simple love of football.
His promising start with the Titans last season ended prematurely when he tore a pectoral muscle during their third preseason game. But in time, the injury gave him perspective.
"When something's taken away from you, you respect it more," the Jets defensive lineman said. "You don't take it for granted."
His NFL journey has taken him to more teams than he ever could have imagined: Minnesota, St. Louis, Detroit, Jacksonville, Tennessee -- even a brief stint with the Giants from 2008-09. But with looming roster cuts, Douzable, 27, wasn't sure if he'd be saying goodbye to Florham Park as well.
"You're never safe," he said after the Jets' 24-21 win over the Eagles Thursday night.
But Douzable is safe. At least for now.
The sixth-year veteran, who went undrafted in 2008, has impressed the Jets' coaching staff with his physical play. And he's looking forward to being "the old man" on the Jets' young, athletic defensive line this season.
"I feel like every system is made for a player. And I think this is the system that I've been waiting for to be in," he said, highlighting the Jets' ability to confuse offenses by lining up defensive players all over the field.
That's why Douzable -- like coach Rex Ryan -- believes the Jets' defense will finish in the top five. "No doubt at all," he said. " . . . It's going to be hard for people to stop us."
Unlike the 22 players who were cut Saturday by the Jets, Douzable will return to the practice facility on Monday. And there, waiting for him in his locker, will be his sling.
"I keep it just to remind me every single day that any play can be your last," he said. "I think about that every time I see it."
Nick Bellore knows that versatility is a key to his game, whatever that game may be.
On the field, his position is inside linebacker but his role has been to do everything he can on special teams while waiting for his turn on defense. He did just that his first two seasons with the Jets, leading our special teams in kick-coverage tackles both years, 48 total.
If his reps this preseason are any indication, he could be in line for more defensive work as the immediate backup to inside starters David Harris and Demario Davis. In the just concluded preseason, Bellore logged 142 plays on defense, fifth-most on the unit, and 191 plays including specials, sixth-most on the team, and his unofficial total of 15 preseason tackles tied with Josh Bush for the Jets lead.
Despite all that, Bellore knows which side of the ball his bread is buttered, even under new special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica.
"We took what Mike Westhoff taught us and then we put some new twists on it," he said with a tip of his hat to the retired coach. "And I think it's going to be really good. It's hard to build any continuity on special teams because it's such a transient league, but we've been able to keep some of the same guys around, which I think will really pay dividends in the long run."
The multiple roles for him and his specials teammates has him pumped for the start of the season, which of course comes Sunday at MetLife Stadium in the Jets' season opener against the Buccaneers.
"I'm excited about it. We can do a lot of cool stuff, moving guys around because they know how to play multiple spots," he said. "I'm playing some different positions myself and there are a lot of guys who are moving around quite a bit."
Bellore's TV gig, which will begin even sooner than his 2013 season, has taken a similar path to his pro playing career. For the second straight year, he'll serve as a co-host of Jets Huddle, our Saturday night show that will kick off this year on Saturday at 11:35 p.m. ET on WCBS Channel 2. And he's starting to get comfy with a microphone in hand.
"It's fun to work on it because it's something that's a little out of my comfort zone. I'm always 'Oh, gosh, this is kind of tough,' " he said. "But it gets easier every episode, and it's fun for me. You get to learn some things about the guys that I probably wouldn't have if I wasn't in that position. I just hope it really helps the fans get an inside look into what we're all about, and not just on the field."
Bellore's cohost this season will be Austin Howard, and we'll chat up the Jets' big right tackle next week before his Jets Huddle debut. This week, Nick, the now veteran broadcaster, says he'll be interviewing rookie DT Sheldon Richardson, which could be a hoot, knowing how playful the St. Louisan can be.
As Bellore details his plans for this season's debut show, he's leaning hard to starboard off the stool in front of his locker as a horde of reporters descends to talk to his new next-door neighbor, QB Geno Smith.
"I may have to request a new locker," he told me. "Geno's a good guy, but when this time comes around, it gets a little congested."
He was only kidding. If Smith can help Bellore and their teammates get wins on the field and can make a guest appearance "on set" in the Jets' Atlantic Health Training Center locker room, the ensuing congestion will be well worth it.
There may come a point Sunday when Dee Milliner, the Jets’ rookie cornerback, eyes No. 24 on the opposing team with envy. Coach Rex Ryan said the Jets would be reluctant to throw toward Darrelle Revis, even if the three-time All-Pro cornerback, traded from the Jets to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in April, hasn’t played in nearly a year.
Despite a long recovery from a torn knee ligament, Revis commands immense respect. The Jets feel Milliner, the No. 9 pick in this year’s draft, can one day be viewed with such esteem. For now, though, there is a different expectation.
"Are we expecting them to throw balls his way? We sure are." Dennis Thurman, the Jets defensive coordinator said. "We’re expecting him to make his share of plays as well."
Expectations in the NFL, Thurman said, provide a scale by which players can be judged, and inform game plans, as well.
"If you’re not successful, they’re going to come back at you until you are successful," Thurman said. "That’s the nature of the beast in this league. We’ll see if he’s up for the task. If he is, he’ll go out there and perform. That’s what we expect him to do."
Despite missing the Jets’ final two preseason games with an Achilles injury, Milliner will start Sunday. He has practiced fully this week.
• Quinton Coples, the Jets’ top draft pick last year, rode an exercise bike at practice yesterday. He is recovering from a fractured right ankle, an injury suffered Aug. 17 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, just his second start after converting from defensive end to outside linebacker in the Jets’ 3-4 system.
"The difficult thing for him is that he was beginning to get it," Thurman said of Coples’ adjustment. "He was beginning to perform at a level that he knew he could perform at and we also knew he could perform at."
In addition to Coples, QB Mark Sanchez (shoulder) and WR Santonio Holmes (foot) did not practice. Sanchez won’t play Sunday but Holmes remains a gametime decision.
• Ben Kotwica, the special teams coach, said he is confident the kickoff return unit will excel this season despite the departure of Joe McKnight, who was cut last month.
In 2011, McKnight led the NFL with 31.6 yards per return. Last season, McKnight placed third.
Kotwica said Clyde Gates and Kyle Wilson are poised to have success in the kick return role. A successful kickoff return unit, Kotwica added, is based on scheme and strong blockers as much as the returner.
The Jets have returned a kickoff for a touchdown in each of the last 11 seasons.
• Nick Folk, the Jets placekicker, and Rob Malone, the punter, each definitively won position competitions during the preseason, Kotwica said.
Folk fended off Billy Cundiff and Dan Carpenter in camp. Both players are on NFL rosters headed into Week 1.
Malone, Kotwica said, has been kicking the ball as well as he ever has since joining the Jets. Kotwica credited Louie Aguiar, an assistant during training camp, with working to "harness" Malone’s technique.