There were no pads on, and no one was knocked around, but everyone on the New York Jets' offense was immediately dazzled by the defense Rex Ryan installed.
The Mad Scientist has officially arrived, bringing with him with his personal brand of organized chaos—and his new defensive players appear to be basking in all of its glory.
Running 11-on-11 drills, the Jets' quarterbacks struggled to identify all of the different looks the defense gave them. They threw errant passes and failed to grasp who's doing what at any given time.
The playbook Ryan brings is the most significant change for the team. With extensive defensive knowledge, he brings versatility to a team that was built for a base 3-4 with some very expensive parts.
But limiting Ryan's defense to the 3-4 label would be criminally negligent at this juncture.
Imagining the Jets taking the field with a 4-4 defensive front isn't too far-fetched. And although the 46 defense was ultimately countered by the West Coast offense, can anyone honestly doubt Ryan's desire to bring his father's dominant defense back from time to time?
"As far as trying to figure out a defense, I've never seen anything like it since I've been in the league,'' said right tackle Damien Woody, an 11-year veteran.
"They do such a good job of disguising what they're trying to do. They have looks that you just don't see," added Woody to the New Jersey Star-Ledger.
The principle concern for the defense heading into training camp revolved around how quickly the Jets would pick up the complexities of Ryan's scheming. With former Ravens Bart Scott and Jim Leonhard around to aide the Jets veterans in the transition, it appears as if the unit is already in midseason form.
If a veteran offense was stunned by the formations alone, fans should only expect even more confusion when the Jets are allowed to hit as hard as they've promised.
The concept of an active and threatening Jets' defense should sound foreign to fans after years of mediocrity. There have been flirtations with success in the past, but the potential for such dominance is unfamiliar.
There was a brief spell in 2006, after Eric Mangini implemented his base 3-4 alignment, where there would be motion to confuse an offense before the snap. But that creativity eventually took a back seat to a more traditional, line-up and read approach.
What was once a luxury for Jets fans now comes standard with Ryan. With the defensive fronts converging on the offense with intricate blitz packages, the secondary has had the freedom to take advantage of their opportunities.
With players like Leonhard, Drew Coleman, and Donald Strickland creating turnovers, the possibilities are even more exciting for Darrelle Revis and Kerry Rhodes when the season starts.
In Ryan's defense, every player will be in a position to succeed.
Yes, that means Vernon Gholston, too.
"Last year at this time I wasn't here. I was back at Ohio State," said Gholston. "Now, you get the chance to go through the defensive installs. You can work on it and work on your technique and the different ins and outs of the defense.
"I didn't get the chance to do that last year. I think that's pretty big.''
That's very big, Vern.
Closing out the practice session with a sack, Gholston received praise from defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.
"You can tell this is important to him. He's passionate about it," said Pettine. "I think progression-wise, he's right where he needs to be.
"I'm confident he'll be better once we have the pads on.''