Florham Park, N.J.-On Monday the Jets players talked about how important it was that they put Sunday’s loss to the Packer’s behind them and turned the page to focus their attention to Detroit. At today’s practice it was clear that, that’s exactly what the Jets are doing.
As the media walked towards the practice field this morning, Eminem’s “Welcome to Detroit City,” blasted through the speakers as the players were stretching. The timing was perfect the song was half way through by the time the media was in earshot, but the message was clear, the Jets focus is on going into Detroit and completing their mission.
Not surprisingly the next song that came ringing through the air was another Eminem song, “Lose Yourself,” you know the song with the hook so catchy even people who hate rap and or Eminem admit to loving.
This time last week the music played signified a much different energy, last week the players seemed relaxed and worry free as they were half-dancing through their stretches. Today, as “Lose Yourself,” played there was no dancing or head nodding, just looks of focus and determination.
As the music cut off and the air horn blew the players broke from their stretches and immediately entered practice mode. There was a little more serious work put into today’s 30 minute media portion of practice than usual, with the receivers seeming to be the biggest focus of extra work.
This was no accident, receivers stay late after practice all the time to get in extra work, especially after a bad game. Sometimes they stay late, because the quarterback needs the extra work, sometimes it’s because they had an insanely high amount of drops in their last game, sometimes it’s both.
But to see them focus on it, positioning the receiving unit directly in front of where the media was standing, was clearly to have us let you fans know that they simply will not tolerate that many drops and they are going to make sure they work to clean up those specific mistakes.
Obviously the team is focused on cleaning up any and all mistakes, but this organization is smart enough to know the drops are a) the most glaring problem that people around the league saw effect the Jets last Sunday and b) that this is the one area that they can trot out onto the practice field and show us ‘hey look we are really working hard on trying to fix this.’
The receivers would sidestep for around five yards, then cut and turn their body as coaches rocketed passes that were almost always just slightly leading the receivers. Throughout their careers both Cotchery and Holmes have established a reputation for being extremely sure-handed receivers, but one would never know that watching the way they played on Sunday.
Sanchez needs to be able to trust that his receivers will catch the ball when he throws it right to them, or even just slightly off-target and based off the past of these two receivers it’s a problem that should soon disappear.
Holmes has had uncharacteristic drops and fumbles all season (and preseason), and it’s obvious he and Sanchez are both a little off with their attempts to incorporate him into this offense. Cotchery’s drops on Sunday were so abnormal and bothered him so much that immediately after the game he said he never wanted to play another game on Halloween again. Both he and Jets fan hope that was a Jericho Cotchery they will never see again.
Only one pass was dropped during this drill and it’s not even fair to call it a drop as the ball was zipped towards Braylon Edwards’ shoes, but Holmes did bobble one pass that probably would have been knocked out of his hands if a defender was there.
As the receivers were doing this the quarterbacks were off on the opposite field, getting their own work in. The quarterbacks would take turns dropping back and immediately step up in the pocket and fire the ball to one fixed spot on the field, over and over again. Sanchez’s throws looked clean and crisp and he seemed to do everything with a little more intensity than normal today. Even later as he was doing simple handoff drills he would sprint out of the backfield and head down field as if he was going to take out the imaginary defenders lined up in thin-air.
After the first set of drills the receivers positioned themselves next to each other and would run towards a ball being thrown at the receiver on the right side, with the receiver on the left side there to try and knock the ball out of the receivers hands. Holmes was the most active in trying to disrupt the passes, but still the receivers on the right came up with every ball thrown their way.
Of course they would, it’s only practice your thinking right?
True, things tend to work much easier in practice than the game, but still it’s a good sign that the Jets are going out of their way to let us know they are working hard on the fundamentals, because talent isn’t the reason they lost on Sunday. They lost because of a lack of fundamentals, namely penalties, drops and those two “interceptions.”
The outcome of the Packers game is a distant memory now, but what caused the outcome is still fresh on everyone’s mind. The Jets simply can’t beat themselves like they did last Sunday and they know the Lions team they are facing on Sunday is far from the laughing stock of the league they have been for so long.
With a perhaps underrated, but definitely dangerously frisky, Lions team facing them in Detroit this week the Jets know they have a tough task on their hands. But if today’s practice was an indication, then one thing you can expect is a much sharper and more focused Jets team from now until Sunday than the casual, relaxed team that we saw all last week.
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