What We Learned from New York Jets Training Camp This Week

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What We Learned from New York Jets Training Camp This Week
The Star-Ledger-US PRESSWIRE

If you missed all of ESPN's coverage of the New York Jets training camp, you may be looking for answers on some of the biggest questions around the team. 

Here is a gathering of observations and analysis based on the reports of those who were in attendance for camp.

 

This is a New Rex Ryan

And, it has nothing to do with his weight loss.

Rex Ryan dumped the brash, bold robustness for a more quiet, controlled and in-control demeanor.

Jeremy Kerley not working his butt off in the offseason? Rex let him know about it. Publicly.

Not happy with Antonio Cromartie's comment about being the second-best receiver on the team during an interview on ESPN First Take? Rex let him know about it, too—also publicly—according to Kimberly A. Martin of Newsday.

Heck, even the President of the United States got a taste of the new Rex Ryan, in response to Barack Obama's comments that a two-quarterback system couldn't work in the NFL

All Rex had to say was:

"That's it" might be the two best words to describe the new Rex Ryan. And after years of putting more pressure on his team with his Super Bowl guarantees and his public comments about his opponents, perhaps, it's time to give this new look a try.

They haven't won a Super Bowl in the three years he was running his act before, so what does he have to lose by trying something new now?

 

Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE
Mixed Bag at Wide Receiver

The Jets offense has a difficult task every day going up against cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. 

But wide receiver Chaz Schilens has made some incredible catches in practice, and Rex Ryan has taken notice. Rex said, per the Jets' official website:

Mike Westhoff's not one to praise a lot but he came up to me and said, 'Hey, that 85, he can really help me.' Chaz is a physical guy and the best thing he does is when the pads come on—he's one of the top blockers as a receiver in the NFL, kind of like what Braylon Edwards did for us. And he's done a nice job catching the football. He made some deep catches and he's a big target that runs fast. Those are all positives.

The Jets are a bit banged up at the position right now, with injuries to Santonio Holmes, Chaz Schilens and Jeremy Kerley hampering their practice time according to Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger

Cromartie made a terrible call judging himself as the second-best wide receiver on the team, simply based on the message it sends to his teammates—a message which was received about as you'd expect it to be. Nonetheless, he may not have been too far from the truth. Maybe No. 4?

According to Vrentas of The Star-Ledger, Kerley has already earned the scorn of Ryan for a poor offseason program, and while Kerley is using those words as motivation, the Jets were counting on Kerley to develop into an option for their offense as a slot receiver.

Stephen Hill is an athletic receiver who remains a raw prospect but has gotten off to a fast start at camp and is just the kind of high-character guy the Jets could use on their roster. Lisa Zimmerman of CBS Sports talks about his work ethic:

One summer when Hill was about nine years old, he was tasked with moving a chicken from one coop to another. “You had to grab them and bring them over to the other side,” he recalled. “As I was chasing it, I jumped on a board and I slipped and I fell on a nail.

He suffered a serious cut to his left leg that required a visit to the hospital for some stitches. Hill's parents were already in town when the accident happened, preparing to take him home for football camp. “I was supposed to go to a Little League training camp. My dad was like 'What happened?' He looked at me and he said, ‘You know you gotta go to football, right?'"

After resting for three or four days, Hill said he returned to action. His work ethic, which Hill credits to those days of hard labor on the farm, is what stood out to the Jets when they were scouting Hill, their second-round pick in the draft this year.

If Cromartie really wants to be the second-best receiver on the roster, he'll have to beat out not only Schilens but also the hard-working Hill. 

 

Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE
Tebowmania Running Wild on New York

Because we couldn't make it through camp updates without mentioning his name at least once, we figured we might as well do our diligence and discuss the role of perhaps the biggest draw at Jets camp.

For the first time in camp, Tebow went live. As in, the Jets defense was allowed to hit him just like any other player despite his red non-contact jersey. File that one under "p" for probably never happened before. Per Jenny Vrentas of the Newark Star-Ledger:

Tebow scored three touchdowns in four chances, running the ball in twice and throwing once to tight end Josh Baker.

His final score was on the kind of Wildcat-type play the Jets have been alluding to since boldly trading for Tebow in March. Tebow took the shotgun snap, faked a handoff to Joe McKnight, who was in full motion in the backfield. Tebow kept the ball and barged into the end zone on a power play.

One Jets writer, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, documented that Tebow scored three touchdowns in Thursday's goal-line session—two rushing and one passing.

Those who watched ESPN's coverage of Jets camp know that they didn't exactly show their hand in terms of Tebow's packages, but there were opportunities for him to throw the ball, and the media took stock.

Courtesy Manish Mehta, @MMehtaNYDN
Boy, did they take stock. According to these stats from Mehta, Sanchez is completing 52.2 percent of his passes with Tim Tebow completing exactly 50 percent of his throws.

He also lined up as the personal punt protector on special teams, as had been widely reported before the Jets even took the field. But for 14 consecutive punts on Thursday, Tebow didn't line up there according to a tweet by Mehta of the New York Daily News.

As usual, we will keep you up on the non-competition at the quarterback position as that non-competition unfolds.

Rich Barnes-US PRESSWIRE
Ground-And-Pound In Full Effect, Along with Changes for Shonn Greene

The Jets made moves to try to get back to the ground-and-pound mentality that had brought them so close to the Super Bowl in Rex Ryan's first two years as head coach. 

To do that, they brought in former Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano to be the new offensive coordinator.

The Jets ran the ball 22 times straight to start their first padded session of training camp.

Stats courtesy Pro Football Reference.
Sparano loved to run the ball, and the Dolphins usually did it pretty well under his watch. Even Rex was impressed with the results. 

"Just the fact that, 'Hey, this is who we are,' we’re going to run it and run it and find a way to get it done running the football," Ryan said, according to Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger. "Once we do, we establish that run, or the mentality of, 'Hey, here they come again,' that’s only going to help our passing game."

The entire team will play better if the Jets stick to running the ball. They gave up the second-most turnovers of any team in the NFL last year, with quarterback Mark Sanchez leading the league in individual turnovers.

While some of those may not have been entirely his fault—tipped balls, fumbles because of the changing centers, poor blocking resulting in strip sacks—it's an indication that perhaps the Jets would be better off playing a more fundamentally "safe" style of offensive football. Aside from that, turnovers have been a big emphasis with Sparano since he arrived.

Going deeper into the run-heavy offense the Jets will run, though, we have also learned that Shonn Greene could have a reduced role in the offense. Namely, he'll come off the field on third downs, according to Vrentas of The Star-Ledger:

Greene has experience as a third-down back, but Lynn said he would prefer to rest him on that down. He’d like to use either Powell or Joe McKnight in that role, but is waiting to see who emerges during training camp.

"That job is wide open," Lynn said. "I'm trying to develop one right now. We'd like for one of the young guys to come out of this camp ready to go on third down."

This lines up with a lot of what we have read about Greene this offseason. He lacks explosiveness, and he leaves yards on the field (per Evan Silva of Rotoworld). Even if Greene is the bell-cow for the offense, it looks like the Jets are leaving their options open when it comes to the third-down responsibilities.

 

Chris Chambers/Getty Images

Wayne Hunter—Right Tackle? Or Wrong Tackle?

So, Jeff Otah didn't pass his physical, as we're all well aware at this point, but the fact that the Jets even tried to bring in a big-name offensive tackle like Otah tells you how confident they are in their right tackle spot.

Should the Jets continue shopping for right tackles?

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They have reason to have doubts, after Hunter ranked as one of Pro Football Focus' worst right tackles in the league, giving up 11 sacks along the way. There's no question he's the weak link on the offensive line, and without Otah in the fold to back him up, the Jets are keeping their fingers crossed that last year was a one-time deal and not a new standard of performance.

So, admittedly, this isn't something we've learned fully just yet. We'll learn over the course of the season, but for now, it's safe to say the Jets aren't 100 percent confident in their situation along the line.

 

Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates.

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