Jets fans were greeted Saturday afternoon with overcast skies and the threat of thunder and lightning, but it didn’t stop Gang Green from taking the field in its annual Green and White scrimmage open to the public. In the end, it was the Green team, quarterbacked by Chad Pennington the 10-7 winners, celebrating at the big blue H on the 50-yard line of Hofstra’s James Shuart Stadium.
Kellen Clemens—starting for the White team—had a chance to be a hero in the 4th quarter but his chance was squandered as White failed to get out of a 4th and 20 from its own 15-yardline. Pennington took a knee for Green to close it out.
“Had a chance in the 4th quarter to come back and at least tie it up, but we had some penalties and some offensive miscues. All in all there’s definitely some positives to build on and we’ll go forward from here,” said Clemens.
The Green team went up 7-0 in the second quarter when Pennington lobbed a 27-yard touchdown pass to WR Jerricho Cotchery on a straight go-route. The touchdown came right after two severe weather warnings from the PA announcer.
For Cotchery, it wasn’t nearly as easy as simply catching the ball.
“During that play, there were a lot of techniques I could’ve used. On that one it had to be late hands. When you go up for the ball and you have it in yours hands, Justin [Miller] does a great job spottin the ball and gettin it out of there so I just wanted to wait till the last second to let the ball get to my hands. It worked on that play,” Cotchery said.
Halftime came prematurely after the officials cleared the field on account of the thunder and lightning in the area with 5:27 left in the second quarter. The delay lasted 26 minutes, and the third quarter commenced when the players re-took the field.
Kellen Clemens threw his first touchdown to TE Dustin Keller in the 4th quarter. The 57-yard strike made the game 10-7 and went a long way to making the argument that Clemens had a “better” day than Pennington.
“The touchdown to Keller was nice. It showcased his abilities a little bit,” Clemens said of his pass to the rookie tight end, who had his left ankle wrapped with ice after the scrimmage.
“I feel good, but I’m really not at liberty to speak about injuries,” Keller said.
Play was neither sharp nor sloppy, however the field was a bit slippery and both teams were somewhat penalty prone throughout the scrimmage.
“I’m never happy with penalties. We talk about it with players and we track it at practice. They kill drives or extend drives and they’re completely in our control. A lot of them are snap counts, a lot of them are based on poor technique, a lot of them are decisions. They affect the game so dramatically,” Mangini said.
On paper, the quarterbacks were close in comparison. Clemens was 8-for-22 with 137 yards and a touchdown. Pennington was 8-for-14 with 115 yards and a touchdown. Both of their top receivers performed equally, as Dustin Keller had 4 catches for 79 yards from Clemens and Cotchery had 4 catches for 71 yards from Pennington. Both reached the end zone.
For the team as a whole, it was the experience that Mangini valued.
“It’s to get everybody into the mode that we’re going to be moving into very quickly. Going through the pre-game mechanics, the pre-game locker room routine and how that works; going through the sideline routine, substitutions, the box communications on the sideline. All the things you can’t get at practice, and there are a lot of new guys and a lot of young guys and have them experience that prior to us actually playing another opponent. It’s a fun way to practice and get a lot of work done,” Mangini said.
P Ben Graham was rumored to have made James Shuart Stadium history with his booming, 86 yard punt. The record for the longest NFL punt in history is 98 yards, ironically by former Jets punter Steve O'Neal in 1969 against the Denver Broncos.
As he took to the microphone in the visiting team’s locker room of Hofstra’s stadium after the scrimmage, Coach Mangini was asked how it feels to be 1-0 by a reporter.
“Very rewarding. There’s a lot of hard work into that plan,” Mangini said with a laugh.
Manigini said at his postgame press conference that the reward for the winners was originally to be a curfew off for tonight. Both teams, however, have the night off, something Kellen Clemens enthusiastically referred to as “super.”
“Those of us on the White squad aren’t complaining one bit,” Clemens added with a smile.
“There’s a little controversy post-game on that, because the team that wins has curfew off tonight and there are some things scheduled for tomorrow, a little extra workout and some mandatory things, and Green would have all of them off until the squad meeting. I thought White did a good job and I thought the tempo was good and I liked a lot of things so both sides curfew off tonight, which was extremely controversial, but White still has the mandatory things. The group as a whole did what I was looking for them to do in terms of tempo and effort,” Mangini said.
Game on 1050 ESPN Radio
Confirming that it's a dead afternoon in NY sports, 1050AM ESPN radio broadcast the game.
Although on the Green roster, RB Jesse Chatman and WR Laveranues Coles were not suited up. TE Chris Baker and LB Jason Trusnik were listed on the Green roster and also were not in uniform, as they remain on the PUP list.
Although the official schedule for the coming week has not been distributed, it's believed that the team will have tomorrow off then return to the practice field for two sessons on Monday. The first pre-season game is next Thursday in Cleveland.
GREEN AND WHITE PRACTICE PHOTO GALLERY: For over 100 exclusive Jets Insider.com Green and White Practice photos