Florham Park, N.J.– All the wonderful familiar sounds of Jets football were back in play today. The sound of a football being rocketed into a receiver’s hands, players crashing full speed into blocking pads, Rex Ryan cracking wise and Mike Westhoff’s ear piercing, yet extremely rough, voice screaming at the special teams players.
There was talk of a certain new addition to the team (one Plaxico Burress), GM Mike Tannenbaum discussing the ongoing formation of the team and of course the coach making some bold (can anything he says really be considered bold anymore?) proclamations. It couldn’t possibly be any other way with these New York Jets.
The first day back did offer some changes from the norm. Players such as L.T., Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, Brandon Moore, Santonio Holmes and Burress were all stuck on the sidelines, unable to to participate in practice until August 4 due to the rules of the new CBA. The two-a-days are now a thing of the past as well, what you get instead is one practice and one walk-thru and Ryan didn’t waste any time telling us what he thought about the walk-thru practices.
“The walk-thru, I’m telling the fans right now, I don’t care if they’re open (to the public) or not, whatever you do, do not come to the walk-thru practices.” Ryan warned. “That’s about as boring as it gets. And you guys (the media) should never come again to the walk-thru thing. It is what it is, we’ll adjust.”
The practice took place in the afternoon and was a welcome sight by all. After all we have suffered through with the lockout it was great for everyone to see DB drills, 7-on-7’s and punt-fielding drills.
Sanchez looked crisp and sharp, with the exception of one terrible decision that turned into an easy pick six by David Harris. Scotty McKnight impressed making a couple of outstanding catches, showing off those tremendous hands we’ve all been hearing about. And it’s far too soon to tell what exactly should be expected from the kid, but the undrafted rookie out of South Alabama, Courtney Smith, sure looks the part of a productive NFL WR coming in at 6′-5″ and 230 pounds.
Still, as expected the highlights of the day all came from Rex Ryan’s mouth.
Does the never shy coach think this Jets team are the favorites to win the division?
“In my mind. I don’t know about everybody else’s.” Ryan said, “The first year I got in we were supposed to win six games or five games or four games. I don’t know what the experts say, I just know what I believe in my heart and that’s that this is going to be our year.
“Again, I think we have to find somebody out there to beat New England besides us, and I think that would help. Anybody out there that wants to sign up for it?” Ryan joked. “Are you good enough as a team to beat the New England Patriots. Forget about us, are you good enough to go out and beat the New England Patriots? I’m challenging the league.”
But after making his plea to the rest of the NFL to contribute a little something, something to the destruction of the Patriots Ryan turned the focus back on his team as he said he thinks, “this is the best roster we’ve had since we’ve been here.”
The statement drew some curious looks from many media members, but it’s clear the reason why Ryan feels so comfortable saying that is because of the growth he expects to see from his captain QB Mark Sanchez. Ryan informed the media a few days ago that Sanchez would be the captain and today Sanchez talked about how honored he was by the title.
“It was a tremendous honor.” Sanchez said, “That means the world to me. The best captain you could ever think of in New York is Derek Jeter. So to be named captain of your team is important, especially in this city, and that’s somebody (Jeter) you have to pattern your life after.”
News flash, if Sanchez has about a quarter of the success Jeter has had, he will become a legend of his own, especially to the Jet faithful. Re-signing Holmes and bringing in Burress is one way of making that a more achievable goal.
Ryan has often told the story of how and why he was so motivated to make the trade for Holmes last year, simply put Holmes kept beating him. Funny because Ryan tells a similar story in regards to Burress.
“It’s funny because I never saw the tape on Plaxico. So I said okay, ‘Let me see Plaxico,’ so I’m watching this tape, his point of attack tape, and I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness. Let’s go get this guy, are we crazy?'” Ryan said, “And we all know, he hasn’t played for a couple of years, but what I saw on tape, I had forgotten about two years and totally got burned a million times when I was in Baltimore when he was with the Giants and with the Steelers. So I remember it and it was ugly.”
And this explanation makes all the sense in the world to Holmes.
“I think everything that coach talks about, that’s what every player believes in. Every coach doesn’t give their team that feeling. I’m pretty sure the Baltimore Ravens can tell you the same thing, that he was the guy that drove them to win the Super Bowl.” Holmes said. “I was the guy that stopped them from winning another Super Bowl. That’s why he brought me along on this ride with him, because he knew what type of guys we had when it was time to play football, and he’s that type of coach.”
Yes, the lockout was hell, absolute torture in fact, but it’s over, which can only mean one thing. There’s an awfully confident football team practicing in Florham Park, New Jersey these days. Sanchez speaks with more authority, Holmes is still just as quick as ever to remind anyone who will listen that he is in fact a Super Bowl MVP. Burress is motivated to make up for lost time (and money) and Cromartie has a big chip on his shoulder.
Then there’s the coach everyone has come to love (or hate, either or, pick one there’s no middle ground here), for his boastful nature. Has the time off changed the coach? Is he ready to tone down his act or ready to make some more Super Bowl guarantees?
“I’ll stand by what I always say.” The coach said with complete confidence.
Ah yes, Rex Ryan refusing to back down from a guarantee, football is back indeed.
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