Tomorrow night, the Eagles will play in their final preseason game against the New York Jets (yay!). I had the chance to speak with David Wyatt over at Gang Green Nation to learn a little bit more about the team.
I’d like to thank David for taking the time to answer some questions for me, and I hope everyone else enjoys!
BirdsFan.com: What are your impressions of the Jets from what you have seen this preseason so far? Are they as good as everyone thinks they can be?
GangGreenNation.com: You can’t put too much emphasis on pre-season football but I don’t think outsiders would have seen what they wanted to see from the Jets. I’m not too worried about the performance, but panelists are already questioning the Super Bowl credentials of the team weeks after building them up, so I think that says it all as to our performance in the pre-season.
We’ve looked good on defense as you would expect, and relatively poor on offense. The run game looks like it’ll be a strength again, but Sanchez is still giving people nightmares, I’ll wait until the regular season to see whether he has improved, but if we are just going on pre-season performances, it doesn’t look like he has.
BF: What are your thoughts on the Darrelle Revis situation and what is the general feeling Jets fans have towards him right now? Any possibility of him not being a Jet in 2010?
GGN: My personal feeling is that he is being extremely selfish holding out on his teammates. He’s showing that he cares more about the money than the championship possibility. I think he’s getting some bad advice from his agents. He got a lot of upfront money for a rookie coming into the league, and we can’t forget that he held out for his rookie deal.
The team approached him because they felt he should earn more than the $1 mill, which is obvious. However some of the numbers being quoted are ridiculous. He wants $160 mill over 10 years with upwards of $60 mill guaranteed, but the Jets are only willing to give him $120 million with an unknown amount of guarantees.
His reputation has taken a massive hit over this process. Many people are now saying that although they want him back, they will never view him in the same light (I’m one of them). The more days that pass, the more fans he loses. Right now, I would say there are less than 20% of the fan base that is firmly behind him. The worse case scenario is he sits out the 2010 season. He won’t be with any other team, but he may not be with the Jets either.
BF: Personally, I’m loving this season of Hard Knocks. What are your thoughts on the show? Is anything misconstrued on film?
GGN: I think it definitely has it’s positive points, but the negatives are clear to see. There was the distraction of the swearing incident. Also, in my personal opinion, Hard Knocks is going a long way in forming a negative atmospheres around certain players, more specifically Joe McKnight.
Hard Knocks put together an episode to show him in a certain light and many fans took that and ran with it as a concrete assessment. Add that to his early struggles, and people have mentioned cutting him. Hard Knocks made people forget that he is a fourth round pick and needs time, and showed him only in a negative light. They chopped together a sequence of only poor touches, and as I follow the training sessions closely, he has been hot and cold, but he has been hot at times. They cut that out because it didn’t fit in with what they wanted to get across.
That’s the negative. Overall, it’s been great to see the workings of the club: some of the interviews, some of the practices, the fun that’s had, but also all the seriousness of post game and tape breakdown. It shows the brutal side of the game with Basped getting cut in the first episode due to knee problems.
It’s a great show, but I think it’s important that fans understand that Hard Knocks has an agenda to create stories, some positive and some negative. Don’t take it as gospel and definitely don’t form concrete opinions based on it.
BF: We’re going to see a lot of play out of the backups in this game. Where are the best roster battles taking place and who’s involved?
GGN: There are still some places up for grabs but in comparison to a lot of teams there are not a lot. There is still the battle for the #3 QB spot with O’Connell and Kellen Clemens battling it out. Running back wise we still have fan favorite (to some) Danny Woodhead battling mainly with Chauncey Washington. The wide receiver position isn’t completely locked up, David Clowney is still fighting for his position in my mind, being pushed by Larry Taylor who contributes on special teams.
Other than that I can’t think of too many, I think a lot of people will be looking for Vernon Gholston who has finally started to make improvements. He’ll run with the 2nd team for some of the game this weekend I would imagine.
BF: Which rookie draft picks look the best and which of them will actually make the 53-man roster?
GGN: We only had 4 rookie draft picks this year, so I expect all of them to make the roster. As for who looks the best, it’s between our round one selection Kyle Wilson and our fifth round selection John Conner.
Wilson has been running with the first team in Revis’ absence and he has been really impressive for a rookie. He gets daily praise from the coaching staff. He was born to play in an aggressive man-to-man scheme like the one we run. His coverage is fantastic, his closing speed is excellent and he is as physical as they come. He actually reminds me a lot like Revis in his first rookie camp. Not saying he’ll turn into Revis, but that is his kind of potential.
John Conner is a full back that loves contact, he goes in 100% and blows up anyone who meets him in he hole. He works hard and he has a great mentor in 2010 in Tony Richardson. We’ll carry two FB’s this year, and I expect Conner to see some time behind T-Rich. He is most definitely looking like one for the future.
Our other rookies, Joe McKnight, a fourth round pick out of USC and our second round selection, Vladimir Ducasse, an offensive lineman from UMASS are having growing pains. McKnight is struggling with his conditioning and hasn’t made an impact in the run game yet, but has had two nice punt returns. I expect him to make a difference in the punt return game this year, and then in the running game in 2011 onwards. We don’t need him to break out in 2010 with Greene and LT, and it’s unfair to expect him to.
Ducasse was in a battle for the LG spot vacated by the trade of Faneca. His technique is sloppy and he was beaten out by Matt Slausen, the second-year player out of Nebraska. Ducasse needs time just like McKnight, he is a powerful guy, but he just needs to work with the offensive line coach Bill Callahan. I have faith that all four of our rookies will turn out to be good selections.
BF: Are there any players you’ve had high hopes for this season who have disappointed in Training Camp and the preseason?
GGN: The only one that I can think of is Mark Sanchez. We heard how he had gotten better, much better, during the offseason. Unfortunately, this pre-season, we haven’t seen any of that. He is still locking on to receivers, he is still going with his first read. He’s still throwing picks, and he’s still not moving the offense like we wished he would.
It is still pre-season and we know he has the talent because we saw it in the 2009 pre-season. I’ll reserve judgment until he has the full play-book at his disposal opening night. I’m slightly worried by his seemingly lack of improvement in the problem areas that saw him throw a lot of picks in 2009.
BF: The Jets seem to have really high hopes for Mark Sanchez in 2010, but I’m not sold on his ability. Will Sanchez ever be more than just one of those ‘game managing’ type quarterbacks?
GGN: That’s the golden question. To be completely honest with you, I have absolutely no idea. He has a lot of talent, he can make all the throws (although he doesn’t). He works hard and he has a lot of weapons at his disposal. I haven’t been impressed this offseason or preseason, but again you really have to wait to get a good view in regular season action.
The Jets like him, the coaches like him, and the players seem to react well to him. However, like NFL Network pointed out a couple of days ago, Mark Sanchez could be the weak link in this team. I think he has the potential to be a very good QB in the NFL, but will he ever be that guy? I don’t think anyone knows for sure.
BF: How do you see LT’s involvement in the offense this year? Will he be sharing snaps as a starter or will he fill more of a third down, back-type role?
GGN: LT has been one of the best players in camp. For those who said he had lost it, I think they are in for a big surprise. I think that he will take some carries on 1st and 2nd down, but he will mainly be used as that 3rd down guy. I think we will run the hot hand a lot this season. LT will get the ball as long as he performs, and so far he’s showing he may get the ball a lot.
Greene will take the pounding inside but LT has a vital role for this team, not only as that check down option out of the backfield, but also as a change of pace guy. He compliments Greene more than Thomas Jones ever could. There is no player I’m more excited about for 2010 than LT.
BF: Who’s a player on the Jets that people might be familiar with who you’ve been impressed with?
GGN: See above. LT without a doubt, everyone knows him and most think he’s done. The game plan was moved away from him in San Diego, their run blocking isn’t the best and the move to a vertical game took the ball out of LT’s hands. He’s with a great run blocking unit now, and we run the ball a lot. He’s in a great situation, and he is impressing on a daily basis. His 40+ yard run against the Redskins turned the clocks back for me with his cut. He still has vision, he still has burst and he still has the desire.
BF: Give me a score prediction.
GGN: Our 3rd stringers are not the best. So I’m going to hand this one to the Eagles.
Philadelphia 20-17 New York Jets