While the mood has been jovial at Jets minicamp, a war of words is brewing in the AFC East. (JetsInsider.com Photo)
For the past three seasons Jets players and coaches have kept their thoughts to themselves by not giving any “bulletin board” material to other teams in the NFL. Under former tight-lipped head coach Eric Mangini, players and coaches watched how they answered questions from the local media.
But now Mangini is gone. His replacement Rex Ryan has already shown the characteristics of last year’s team are gone as well. So far this mini-camp he is helping the Jets create a new identity for the 2009 season.
“It is fun to ruffle some feathers. I have no problem doing that,” said Ryan. “I’m confident in my football team. I’m confident in myself. I’m confident in our players, coaches and this entire organization.”
“If that is motivation, if that’s going to give them an edge or something like that, if they need that, that’s fine. They’re going to get 100 percent of what we have so we’ll see if that’s good enough or not,” added Ryan.
Already in Ryan’s brief tenure as head coach he has gotten into a war of words with Dolphins LB Channing Crowder. Nearly a week ago he told WFAN’s Mike Francesa that he “never came here to kiss Bill Belichick’s [Super Bowl] rings.” And during his introductory press conference, he told reporters that the Jets will soon be visiting President Barack Obama at the White House.
While some Jets fans may want Ryan to wait and play a regular season game before he opens his mouth again, his players like what he has to say and understand why he is saying what he is.
“I like the swagger Coach Ryan has brought to the team and to the organization. I could really care less. They could call us cocky or arrogant or whatever; who cares, let’s just go out there and win and that speaks the loudest,” said QB Kellen Clemens.
“We just have to create our own identity in the locker room. I think that we are going about it the right way. There really is not much that we need to say about it. It’s just kind of Coach Ryan’s style,” added rookie QB Mark Sanchez.
As mandatory mini-camp wraps up tomorrow morning at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center with one practice, Ryan has gotten the message through to his team on the kind of identity he wants them to have.
“We are going to come here and compete. The game isn’t played on paper. The game is played on the field. We are going to have the opportunity to line up and compete,” said LB Bart Scott, who played under Ryan in Baltimore. “We are not going to submit to anybody. We are not going to bow down for anybody and we are not afraid to compete against anybody.”
SANCHEZ SIGNS: The Jets and QB Mark Sanchez have come to an agreement on a multi-year contract, according to team. Initial reports say the deal is for five years, $50 million, with $28 million in guaranteed money.
"I'm still pinching myself," said Sanchez. "One to be a Jet and two to have this generous contract by the Jets. It's a huge weight lifted off my shoulders and now I can show it's all about football. Signing this deal does not mean Bart Scott is not coming after me tomorrow."
Ryan Fires Back at Crowder
The war of words between Jets head coach Rex Ryan and Dolphins LB Channing Crowder continued Wednesday afternoon. Early Wednesday, Crowder responded to comments made by Ryan. The fifth-year linebacker from Florida told Jeff Darlington of the Miami Herald that his dad or uncle can take care of Ryan.
“''Oh, Lord have mercy. What's wrong with him? Now he's talking about preparation? We play them twice this year. If he wants to be prepared, shouldn't he know the starting middle linebackers of his division rival?'' Crowder said to the Miami Herald. “He says he'd take care of me if he was younger?' I'd have beat the hell out of that big old joker. Or if he really wants to get retro, my daddy or my uncle could have handled him.”
After learning about what Crowder said, Ryan fired right back in the beginning of his 15 minute press conference with reporters.
“Let's see if he can top this one,” Ryan said. “I've walked pass tougher guys going to a fight than Channing Crowder.”
“Trust me, he can send himself and his father after me. I don’t think I’ve ever lost a fight, so we’ll see. And I’m going to get some tats and stuff like that, so I’ll be ready for him,” added Ryan.
Sanchez Feeling Like He Belongs
It felt like Mark Sanchez had been in the NFL for years on Wednesday. The rookie quarterback began his session with media by joking around like seasoned veteran with reporters before LB Bart Scott put him back in his place by poking fun at his recent appearance on the cover of GQ.
Another reason why Sanchez looked like experienced quarterback is because of the way he played on the field. After a really fine opening day to mini-camp, he followed it up with another quality performance as he worked mostly with the second team. Sanchez demonstrated why the Jets traded up to five to select the quarterback from Southern California, as showed good arm strength and at times pinpoint accuracy. Before Jets fans appoint him the next Joe Namath, Sanchez believes that Thursday’s practice is the most important of them all as he feels it’s important to leave mini-camp on a positive note.
As for Ryan’s thoughts on his performance, “Both the quarterbacks had their moments today, good and bad.”
Gholston Proving His Worth
One player who will have many eyes following him this training camp is second-year linebacker and former Ohio State Buckeye Vernon Gholston. Gholston, who taken with the sixth overall pick last year, only recorded 13 tackles in his rookie year and did not have a sack. Because of the way Ohio State semesters are scheduled, Gholston got late start to learning the defense last year.
But now with a full year in the NFL under his belt, Gholston seems ready to live up to the expectations that were put on him last year. Gholston noted some reasons why he is optimistic for better results this season. Along with shifting back to his college jersey number (50), Gholston said he feels more prepared to play under new head coach Rex Ryan. Since Gholston has been here as long as Ryan has, he feels comfortable with the defensive schemes, terminology and understands where needs to be at all times.
Early this morning the Jets re-signed P Reggie Hodges, who released a little more than a month ago. Hodges appeared in 12 games in 2008. He compiled a 42.8 average on 44 punts, with a 35.5 net average and 23 punts inside-the-20 yard-line. To make room for Hodges the Jets waived P Eric Wilbur.
Morning Practice Notes
The Jets offense spent most of the morning practice running plays from their “Wildcat” part of the playbook. Ryan says because of the personnel on the roster (RB Leon Washington and WR/QB Brad Smith) it is quite possible that the Jets will the “Wildcat” formation on a regular basis…DB Eric Smith drew praise from Ryan for his performance. Smith had three interceptions during day one of mini-camp.
“I think that was pretty darn impressive. He’s really taken off for us. He’s really improving,” said Ryan about Smith. “Here’s a veteran player who came in, I don’t know if he was a little disgruntled where he was initially on the depth chart, but he just keeps getting better.”
Upcoming for the Jets will be a rookie OTA (Organized Team Activities), which will take place next week. The Jets will have time off before head off to SUNY Cortland for Rex Ryan’s first training camp as Jets head coach.
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