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Thread: Observations From Jets Camp

  1. #1
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    Observations From Jets Camp

    Don't know if everyone has access to this stuff, but it's nice to hear a new voice on Jets camp....

    Updated: Aug. 16, 2006, 12:59 PM ET
    QB spot biggest question on offenseBy Len Pasquarelli
    ESPN.com
    Archive

    HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Here are five observations on the New York Jets, gleaned from the training camp practice of Aug. 15:

    1. The music at practice on Tuesday afternoon (see list to the right) was a lot louder than the Jets' offense figures to be during coach Eric Mangini's debut season. Mangini has his own resident CD-jockey and the guy cranks up the volume during certain segments of practice, although we haven't yet figured out the reasoning, or recovered from the din. The selection is incredibly varied, everything from YoungBloodZ to Young Jeezy & Akon to U2, and it's enough to make your ears bleed. Of course, if that was really the case, the Jets would not admit it, because they don't specify injuries. Heck, they probably don't admit that all of their players, as far as we could determine, have two ears. Anyway, at the risk of redundancy, there was a lot more rhythm emanating from the giant speakers on the sidelines than from the New York offense.
    It seems Mangini is egalitarian to a fault. He's got four quarterbacks on the roster -- Chad Pennington, Patrick Ramsey, Brooks Bollinger and rookie Kellen Clemens -- and they all get equal time with the first-unit offense on a rotating basis. Such an absence of preference is a noble thing, but at some point, someone (and the bet is that it will be Pennington) has to start getting the lion's share of the reps.

    It's difficult to tell how much Pennington has lost off his fastball after two rotator cuff surgeries, because the six-year veteran couldn't break a pane of glass from 10 feet away before noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews began carving up his right shoulder. But there were times Tuesday when the ball was in the air for what seemed a long time. Ramsey, one of our favorite people, still looks too tentative in his decision making. Clemens might be the guy for the long term, but not at the outset of the season.

    With the future of tailback Curtis Martin still up in the air, the running game is a huge question mark, and neither Derrick Blaylock nor Cedric Houston has ever been a full-time starter. As much as the Jets tried to trivialize it, the voided trade for Cleveland tailback Lee Suggs represented a setback of sorts. We're guessing the starting tailback will come in another deal.

    The wide receivers actually aren't too bad. Laveranues Coles still has some shake in him, even though he doesn't find the end zone nearly enough, with a career average of a touchdown every 16.6 receptions. For a player with as much run-after-catch potential as Coles has, he needs to score more. Despite opening camp in Mangini's doghouse, the rangy Justin McCareins is a good possession receiver. Veteran Tim Dwight understands the offense and third-year pro Jerricho Cotchery, who made two acrobatic grabs on Tuesday, is running with the first team and having a good camp.

    Still, it all comes down to the quarterback and, for now, the position remains a question mark.


    2. A friend and colleague suggested to us this week that we must have some kind of fetish for safeties, because we always seem to include an item about a player at the position in our observations. No, we just like watching good safeties, in part because we feel that even most of the premier players there are often underappreciated.
    On Tuesday afternoon, we saw a very good, young free safety in Jets second-year veteran Kerry Rhodes. And right about now, most of you are asking: Uh, who the heck is Kerry Rhodes? Fourth-round pick in the 2005 draft. Started all 16 games as a rookie. Finished with 100 tackles, one sack, one interception and five passes defensed.

    We'd like to tell you we came here fully cognizant of how good a player Rhodes is, and how much better he's going to get, but that would be a lie. Granted, we knew that he was a starter his entire rookie season, but it took New York Daily News crack beat writer Rich Cimini to point out some of Rhodes' strengths to us. Duly apprised, we watched the former Louisville standout, and came away mightily impressed. Rhodes is the kind of safety every team wants now. He can come down into the box and play the run, yet still has some cover skills, and he demonstrated some of his all-around effectiveness in the Tuesday practice.

    Mangini pointed out that in the previous day's practice the Jets worked some of their safeties at cornerback and some of their cornerbacks at safety as he continues his mix-and-match experimentation. There were a few instances on Tuesday when Rhodes lined up on the corner, both in one-on-one drills and in the "team" segments, and he didn't embarrass himself. Of his cornerback flirtation, Rhodes said: "It's camp, so it doesn't mean much yet, really. It's not a big deal yet." We've got a hunch, though, that Rhodes' nascent cover skills will be used more by the current staff.

    If the Jets can get third-year veteran Erik Coleman back on the field after his recent appendectomy, the safety position might be one of this team's strengths. Coleman has started all 32 games over the past two seasons, and like Rhodes, is a very solid player.

    In fact, generally, the New York secondary might not be too bad. There is some depth at cornerback, with Justin Miller, Andre Dyson, David Barrett and Ray Mickens. For now, Miller and Dyson are the starters, but the former needs to hone the mental side of his game and the latter has always been pretty fragile, basically an injury waiting to happen. Barrett, a former starter, just returned to practice after an injury, and could still make a move on a starting berth.


    3. There are always going to be some rough edges when a team transitions to a 3-4 defense, particularly when said team doesn't possess the requisite two-gap talent on hand to play the front. So the Jets are going through some traditional growing pains as they evolve into the alignment that Mangini prefers. That's especially the case on the defensive line, where the Jets really don't have a prototype nose tackle to serve as sacrificial lamb, occupy blockers and clog things up versus the run.
    Little wonder that the agent for veteran tackle Grady Jackson, still looking for work and increasingly anxious to get into somebody's camp, told ESPN.com his client will be here later this week for a physical exam. Jackson isn't a true 3-4 nose tackle, either, but at least he's a space eater who could help inside. Assuming, of course, he's in shape. Someone might want to warn Jackson that he'll have to pass a Bill Belichick-type conditioning test before Mangini will allow him onto the field. Then again, the Jets need a wide-body so badly, Mangini may just waive the test and deem Big Grady ready to roll.

    Former first-round pick Dewayne Robertson, who opened camp as the nose tackle, on Tuesday worked almost exclusively at right end. Kimo von Oelhoffen, who has played inside in the past but was mostly used at end during his six-year stint in Pittsburgh, moved inside to the nose tackle slot. At 299 pounds, the 13th-year veteran isn't as big as you'd like in a 3-4 nose tackle, and at 35 years of age, he might not be able to sustain the constant pounding. But von Oelhoffen knows how to use his hands, can still get into blockers' bodies, and might be able to hold up for a while. He's probably a better bet than Robertson, who is better suited to playing the "under" tackle position in a 4-3 front.

    Left end Shaun Ellis plays a little bigger at times than the 295 pounds at which he is listed, and the Jets are going to need him to anchor the strong side against the run. In addition to some ill-fitting components, New York simply doesn't have a lot of experienced bodies on the defensive line. The No. 4 lineman right now might be Dave Ball, who has played in eight games in two seasons, and has just four tackles.


    4. The Jets' defensive front might not be the only line under reconstruction. The offensive line figures to have two rookies in the lineup on Opening Day: left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold, the club's twin selections in the first round of this year's draft. Neither appeared overwhelmed on Tuesday, although one practice is a short time frame in which to render a judgement, and both survived the Jets' preseason opener relatively unscathed. Both were the draft's premier blockers at their respective positions, and credit Mangini and general manager Mike Tannenbaum for resisting the temptation to snatch up skill-position performers with the first-round choices.
    Mangold didn't quite look like the road grader we expected him to be, but he seems to be a stout enough anchor in the middle, and a smart kid. Ferguson has the kind of overall length teams want at left tackle, he showed good feet in the drills in which we tried to pay particular attention to him, and is said to be a kid driven to excel. The former Virginia star seems to set up a little to the outside and might have some time recovering against an inside move. Ferguson is a sharp kid, though, and New York should be set at the critical left tackle spot for the next 10-12 seasons.

    Notable on Tuesday is that it appeared incumbent right tackle Adrian Jones, who started all 16 games in 2005, was working mostly with the No. 2 unit at left tackle. His spot with the starting unit was filled by eight-year veteran Anthony Clement, who was signed as a free agent in the spring, and whose resume includes 75 starts. The guards, Pete Kendall (left) and Brandon Moore (right) are solid. But the Jets are woefully thin on the line, and lack experienced backups. They may be scouring the waiver wire at roster cutdown time, trying to find some warm bodies.

    5. We preface the final observation with this disclaimer: The term "breakout year" is always a relative one, and contingent upon what a player has done in the past. OK, now with that out of the way, the prediction here is that six-year veteran linebacker Matt Chatham will have a breakout year (of sorts) in 2006.
    New coaches are always wise to bring along a player or two from their former team, and Mangini was smart to have the Jets sign Chatham in free agency this spring. How come? Because even though Chatham was never more than a special teams plugger in New England, with just four starts in 66 appearances, he knows the defense that Mangini and coordinator Bob Sutton have installed here. And for the first time in his career, Chatham, who has 96 tackles and two sacks from scrimmage, is going to have the opportunity to be a full-time starter. He'll line up at weakside linebacker, and while not an especially fluid athlete, he has good instincts and decent combo rush-drop skills.

    Chatham looked pretty active in both disciplines Tuesday, and almost as key, he'll get people in the right spots. It will be hard to take Chatham off special teams, given that he's got 71 career tackles in that area, but he might be too critical to the New York defense to risk on the kicking units.




    Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click here .

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    5. We preface the final observation with this disclaimer: The term "breakout year" is always a relative one, and contingent upon what a player has done in the past. OK, now with that out of the way, the prediction here is that six-year veteran linebacker Matt Chatham will have a breakout year (of sorts) in 2006.
    New coaches are always wise to bring along a player or two from their former team, and Mangini was smart to have the Jets sign Chatham in free agency this spring. How come? Because even though Chatham was never more than a special teams plugger in New England, with just four starts in 66 appearances, he knows the defense that Mangini and coordinator Bob Sutton have installed here. And for the first time in his career, Chatham, who has 96 tackles and two sacks from scrimmage, is going to have the opportunity to be a full-time starter. He'll line up at weakside linebacker, and while not an especially fluid athlete, he has good instincts and decent combo rush-drop skills.

    Chatham looked pretty active in both disciplines Tuesday, and almost as key, he'll get people in the right spots. It will be hard to take Chatham off special teams, given that he's got 71 career tackles in that area, but he might be too critical to the New York defense to risk on the kicking units.
    I'm definitely rooting for Chatham to make a run for a starting position, or at least get some significant playing time on defense. Haven't heard much about him in camp reports yet, so this is good to hear.

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    THanks, good read.

    I like how Cimmini kissed some @$$ to get his name posted on ESPN. Well, looks like the Jets' best little secret (not that bad of a secondary) will be known now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gas2No99
    THanks, good read.

    I like how Cimmini kissed some @$$ to get his name posted on ESPN. Well, looks like the Jets' best little secret (not that bad of a secondary) will be known now.
    So, if a colleague tells another colleague to watch a certain player, that means he's a kiss a$$?

    Guess what, doctors, lawyers, plumbers, mechanics all talk with their peers about aspects of their business. Same thing happening with Cimini and Pasquarelli. In fact, Pasquarelli probably gave Cimini a tip.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Buzzsaw
    I'm definitely rooting for Chatham to make a run for a starting position, or at least get some significant playing time on defense. Haven't heard much about him in camp reports yet, so this is good to hear.
    That's what jumped out at me too. Chatham a lock at MLB? I figured him as part of a rotation, but i still was under the impression it was Hobson/Vilma/Barton/B-Thomas.

    Also, the O-line isn't in the worst shape depth-wise. Teague hopefully will be back in September plus we have Clement as a backup tackle. That's 7 experienced or highly touted lineman. I don't think you can expect to have 9 experienced, competent lineman on your team. There simply aren't enough to go around. Yes, we are depending heavily on rookies, but when you draft a lineman in the first round, the dude's gotta start.

  6. #6
    I also saw Westhoff gesture to someone about the loud music..he was on the other side of the field from the offense ( which is where Mangini was) ...he was looking at someone on the sidelines and then pointed to his ear and waved his hand in disgust.....obviously not thrilled with the music....don't know how he and Mangini are getting along but he was clearly pissed......

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    They explained the loud music during Mangini TC interview. When teams go stadiums where it is so loud you can't hear yourself think, the music helps prepare the players for those situations.

  8. #8
    Obviosuly that's the reason...but Westoff definitely wasn't happy...I guess he doesn't think that really helps....it just looked like an older coach (Westoff) was perhaps questioning the young HC...remember, Westoff interviewed for the HC job...just wonder if there is any friction between the two.....

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