New York Jets: Rex Ryan

Practice report: Rex wears many hats

September, 4, 2014
Sep 4
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rex Ryan served a few roles for the New York Jets during Thursday’s practice: coach, scout team member and PR man.

Ryan wore an orange cap and ran downfield as a member of the scout team on kickoff coverage. He also sported a white Jets polo shirt -- he never wears white -- in support of Sunday’s “White Out.” The team wants all of its fans to wear white to Sunday’s Week 1 opener against the Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium.

Mostly, it was a light practice. There was no sign of owner Woody Johnson, though GM John Idzik did come over to Ryan and give him a bro hug.

The Jets, following several weeks of training camp, preseason games and practices, look like a team that just wants to play a meaningful game already.

In the rehab area during practice were the usual suspects: DB Josh Bush (quadriceps), LB IK Enemkpali (foot), DB Dee Milliner (ankle). None of those three players is expected to play on Sunday.

Jets get defensive -- after the game

August, 17, 2014
Aug 17
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CINCINNATI -- From the first whistle to the final tape-recorder click in the postgame interviews, the New York Jets were the New York Bullies. Still smarting from last year's 40-point blowout loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, they went into Paul Brown Stadium Saturday night with an attitude seldom seen in the preseason. They played like hockey goons, offering no apologies for seven personal-foul penalties. They defended their beleaguered secondary with a "How-dare-you-question-us?" chippiness.

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Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsBengals receiver Mohamed Sanu's 43-yard score on what Rex Ryan called blown coverage was but one example of the Jets' secondary struggles.
Rex Ryan was so prickly in his postgame news conference that it made you think, "Wow, who poured lemonade in his Skyline chili?"

The Jets beat the Bengals, 25-17, but forget about the outcome. Their starting defense -- specifically, the secondary -- was torched by Andy Dalton & Co. That was the most important takeaway from the game -- that, and the way they reacted to the postgame inquisition. Clearly, Ryan used the occasion (the scene of last year's debacle) and the adversity (patchwork secondary) to instill an attitude in his team -- a method to the madness, if you will.

"I won't be answering any questions about the secondary," Ryan said at the top of his presser. "Dalton looked like a $100 million quarterback."

It was a lighthearted comment, but then came the snark. He wondered why anyone wanted his opinion on the secondary because the stories already were written, meaning: The secondary stinks, the Jets are in trouble.

There's certainly cause for concern. With a safety playing cornerback (Antonio Allen), and two backups in the staring lineup (safety Jaiquawn Jarrett and cornerback Ellis Lankster), the Jets made Dalton look like a young Boomer Esiason. He completed all eight of his passes for 144 yards and a touchdown, leading the Bengals to 17 points in three series. Allen allowed a 35-yard pass to A.J. Green, who got away with a push. Kyle Wilson got beat for a 43-yard touchdown by Mohamed Sanu, although Ryan claimed it was a blown coverage and not Wilson's fault. The only bright spot was rookie safety Calvin Pryor, who recovered a fumble and broke up a pass with a big hit.

"Obviously, we've got work to do," Ryan sniffed. "How do you evaluate Calvin Pryor? Do you give him a plus? I don't know, I think he forced two fumbles and knocked some dudes out. I guess we were right about that one. We'll be right on our corners, too. We'll sort it out."

Right now, five cornerbacks are hurt, but the biggest names are Dee Milliner and Dimitri Patterson, the projected starters. Patterson should be back soon, but his injury history suggests he won't make too long before the next ailment. Milliner could be back by opening day. This was an issue before training camp because they failed to adequately address the position in free agency, and now it's glaring.

Ryan was asked if they have to acquire a veteran corner.

"I don't think Willie Brown is out there," Ryan snapped. "Maybe he is, but he's 60 years old."

The Hall of Famer is actually 73 years old. If Ryan's pass defense doesn't improve, he'll feel that old by the second quarter of the season -- the Missiles of October. That's when they face Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in consecutive weeks.

Worried? Not Ryan.

"I rely on what I know, which is 20-something years of experience," he said. "That gives me plenty of confidence."

Linebacker Demario Davis bristled when it was suggested the team doesn't have "elite" corners.

"Who said they're not?" he asked a reporter.

They're not, he was told.

"You can say that after one game?" Davis replied.

Allen played the entire first half with the starters but was tested only once by Dalton -- the long completion to Green. All things considered, it wasn't a bad debut for Allen, but let's not be naive: If it had been a regular-season game, the Bengals would've attacked him. Allen said he wasn't intimidated by having to cover Green, one of the best.

"I was just thinking, it's going to be an all-out fight, me and him, best man wins," Allen said.

Allen's physical attitude spread through the entire team, which crossed the line on several occasions. Most of the personal fouls came from the offensive line, with Brian Winters and Breno Giacomini incurring two apiece. At times, the Jets looked undisciplined. Ironically, the secondary wasn't penalized -- a stunner, considering the current climate in the league. Maybe the corners couldn't get close enough to foul.

Go ahead, laugh. Allen said the secondary is aware of the criticism, and is planning to use it as fuel.

"It motivates us a lot," he said.

No doubt, the Jets came to Cincinnati with something to prove. That they approached a preseason game with such attitude might be foolish, but maybe it's not a bad thing. Ryan is trying to set a tone for the season.

"We're not here to take anyone's stuff," Ryan said, bristiling. "Period."
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- The New York Jets' meandering search to replace cornerback Antonio Cromartie included flirtations with Vontae Davis (a rejection) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who had the audacity to take an offer from the New York Giants. Despite some pro-Darrelle Revis sentiment in the organization, the Jets decided not to pursue Revis 2.0. In the end, they made Dimitri Patterson their Big Free-Agent Cornerback.

The response from Jets Nation?

A collective groan.

Patterson
Who?

Patterson understands the sentiment, but he has a message for the skeptics: I'm just as good as the big names.

"Fans like high profiles. I don't have a high profile, but my film is legit," he said during a break at training camp. "When the season comes, I'll show everyone why I've been in the league so long.

"Vontae and all those guys, they were first-round picks," Patterson continued. "That's all cool, but as far as ability and responsibility, are they asked to do more than I've been asked to do over nine years? No. Have they been more productive on the perimeter? No, that's not the case at all. My tape shows that it's just a matter of me coming out and showing fans, 'Hey, let me show you.'"

The Jets have an interesting pair of cornerbacks. Dee Milliner thinks he's the best in the NFL (child, please) and Patterson, with his sixth team in 10 years, believe he was one of the biggest steals in free agency. The Jets signed him for one year, $3 million. If they turn out to be right, they will have their best cornerback tandem since 2011, when it was Revis and Cromartie.

Patterson said he has no intention of tainting the Jets' reputation at corner.

"There's a lot of scrutiny at this position because you had Revis and Cromartie," he said. "They were consistently competitive, year-in, year-out, with those guys at corner, so there's a standard that has been set. That's what the fans are accustomed to, so it's only natural to be concerned. My message to them is, don't be concerned."

Patterson is one confident dude for someone who hasn't played much in recent years due to injuries. In fact, he's missed 32 games the last three seasons (the last two with the Miami Dolphins), but he believes in his ability and he believes he's an ideal fit in the Jets' man-to-man scheme.

"Jets fans aren't familiar with me -- they don't have game tape -- so they have to trust that John Idzik and Rex (Ryan) did their due diligence, researching me," Patterson said. "If my résumé said, 'Cover-2, zone corner,' I wouldn't be here."

To get a complete evaluation of Patterson, the Jets had to study his pre-2012 tape. They see a savvy corner with elite ball skills and versatility, capable of playing outside or in the slot. Opposing scouts say he's much better in the slot, that it might be a stretch to play him on the perimeter.

"The guy understands the game and he understands the big picture, and you don't find a lot of guys like that," secondary coach Tim McDonald said.

Ryan said they didn't sign Patterson because he was the last man standing in the free-agent pool, claiming he was on their radar from the outset. Idzik probably didn't want to spend money on a big name, so he took the cheaper route -- a one-year stop gap and a draft pick (Dexter McDougle in the third round). It's risky, considering all the top quarterbacks they face in the first two months of the season. If the Jets get torched, oh, boy, the decision makers will get criticized.

Don't worry, Patterson said.

"I'll show the fans," he said.

Jets camp report: Reporting day

July, 23, 2014
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CORTLAND, N.Y. -- A few hot topics from Wednesday at the New York Jets' training camp:

You can't have too many pass rushers: The Jets made a smart move, signing the well-traveled Jason Babin to a two-year contract -- assuming the money isn't ridiculous. Obviously, the 34-year-old Babin is on the downside of his career, but he led the Jacksonville Jaguars in two important categories last season -- sacks (7.5) and snaps among the defensive linemen (772). One of the Jets' goals this summer was to identify another edge rusher to add to Calvin Pace, Quinton Coples, etc. If healthy, Antwan Barnes would be that guy, but he's not close to returning from last year's knee surgery. Rex Ryan, explaining the importance of pass-rushing depth, mentioned two recent Super Bowl champions, the Seattle Seahawks and New York Giants. Yep, it's a copycat league. That the Jaguars cut Babin three months after giving him a $500,000 signing bonus is a bit curious, but that's hardly a concern for the Jets.

CJ2K is back: The most important development of the day, though not surprising, was Chris Johnson's proclamation that he's been cleared by Dr. James Andrews to participate in training camp. He spent the last month training in Orlando and showed up Wednesday in terrific shape, "flying" in the conditioning run, according to Ryan. I've said this before, and I'll say it again: Of all the new additions on offense, Johnson is the one with the potential to make the greatest impact. When healthy, he's one of the fastest running backs in the league, and the Jets need speed in the backfield.

Where have you gone, Joe McKnight? Apparently, there are no McKnights on this season's roster. You might recall that McKnight started to play his way off the team last summer by flunking the mandatory conditioning run. This year, no one failed the test, according to Ryan. That, he said, never happened before in his head-coaching tenure. Presumably, this means the Jets reported to camp in tip-top shape. Barnes and guard Willie Colon (knee) passed the conditioning test, yet they still landed on the physically-unable-to-perform list. Don't worry about Colon; he's not that far away from being activated. Barnes? That could take some time.

The anti-Revis: Not that there was any doubt, but defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson did, in fact, report to camp, backing up previous statements in which he vowed not to stage a contract holdout. He said he never considered a holdout for a second, claiming he wouldn't be acting like a team leader if he pulled a no-show. Truth be told, he doesn't have much leverage to get a new contract, considering he's signed through 2015 and the daily fine would've been $30,000. But give him credit for taking the high road, trying to be a team player -- something Darrelle Revis never did in the past. Now we'll see if Wilkerson's anti-Revis approach has any sway with the powers-that-be.
Rex Ryan showed his new boss last season that, even when speaking softly, he still carried a big enough stick to squeeze eight wins out of a team with modest talent. The New York Jets' coach received a well-deserved contract extension.

Now, with the Jets reporting to training camp Wednesday in Cortland, New York, for Year 2 of the Ryan-John Idzik era, we start to learn a lot more about the other half of the leadership tandem, the quiet man who prefers to stay out of the spotlight.

This is Idzik's time.

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Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesDee Milliner is one of John Idzik's draft picks that needs to produce for the Jets.
It's impossible to evaluate a general manager after one season, especially in a rebuilding situation, but the landscape changes after two drafts and two rounds of free agency. In the NFL, that’s enough time to get a team from the 6-10 mess that Idzik inherited into the playoffs.

Idzik's predecessors, Terry Bradway in 2001 and Mike Tannenbaum in 2006, reached the postseason in their first seasons as GMs. Go back further, and you will remember that Bill Parcells made it to the AFC Championship Game in his second year as the GM/coach.

Even though Idzik is operating on a long-term plan, evidenced by his emphasis on the draft and his deliberate approach in free agency, an 0-for-2 start wouldn't look good on his résumé. He shouldn't be on the New York Mets' Sandy Alderson timeline, meaning he has to move faster than a glacier. It's just the way of the NFL.

Idzik has been around long enough to put his stamp on the team. He signed, re-signed and drafted most of the projected starters. In fact, only seven starters can be considered true holdovers from the previous administration: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, Muhammad Wilkerson, David Harris, Damon Harrison, Quinton Coples and Demario Davis.

It's easy to notice they're the best guys on the team, Tannenbaum guys. Idzik needs to get some of his guys on that list. He already has Sheldon Richardson. By the end of the season, the list of top homegrowns should also include Geno Smith, Dee Milliner and Calvin Pryor. If Smith and Milliner are missing, the Jets will miss the playoffs for the fourth straight season, which won’t bode well for Ryan's job security.

Idzik has the Jets pointed in the right direction, and the strides they made last season can't be dismissed. But let's be honest: They overachieved. They were one of the softest 8-8 teams in history, and you can look it up. Their point differential was minus-97, the largest since the 1970 merger for any team with at least eight wins.

The talent base should be improved this season, especially with the additions of Eric Decker and Chris Johnson. Decker was Idzik's one big splurge in free agency, his one Tannenbaum-like move. Johnson and Michael Vick will be one-and-done players, worthwhile Band-Aids who won't ruin the master plan if they fizzle. The offseason proved, once again, that Idzik won't deviate from his script no matter how much salary-cap room he has at his disposal. For the record, there's about $22 million as of today.

Idzik is doing it the right way, avoiding the temptation of the quick fix. That will pay off in the long run, but there will be problems along the way. For instance: Failing to sign a top cornerback in free agency was a mistake that could be exposed early in the season, when they face several elite quarterbacks. The cornerback issue will be exacerbated if Milliner fails to develop as hoped.

The Jets believe Milliner, drafted ninth overall, will be a special player, basing much of their opinion on his strong finish. The same theory can be applied to the quarterback situation with Smith. They're placing a lot of weight on those last four games, and that can be dangerous when you consider the competition. They beat three also-rans, three teams with mediocre (at best) quarterbacks: the Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins.

Now, after seven months of positive mojo, the Jets can prove it wasn't a mirage. If Idzik's investments mirror the stock market, they'll be a playoff team. If it goes the other way, he'll hear the criticism, good and loud. The honeymoon is over. This is Idzik's time.

Jets wake-up call: Reporting day

July, 23, 2014
Jul 23
5:00
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CORTLAND, N.Y. -- The New York Jets open their sixth training camp under Rex Ryan on Wednesday in the small upstate city of Cortland.

The Jets will arrive by bus (for rookies) and cars late in the afternoon, checking into their dorms on the SUNY-Cortland campus before 5 p.m. Their day begins in Florham Park, New Jersey, where they will take physicals and conduct the conditioning run before making the 200-mile trek to Cortland. The first practice is Thursday at 10 a.m.

Expectations are higher than a year ago, and they should be after an encouraging 8-8 season. The Jets added big names in the offseason, including Michael Vick, Eric Decker and Chris Johnson.

This will be the Jets' fifth training camp in Cortland, their home for the next three weeks. You think it's easy to move an NFL team to camp? In addition to 90 players, you're talking about 33 coaches, 139 staffers and 15 athletic trainers, according to the Jets. You're talking about 3,000 pounds of ice, 25,576 pounds of weights, 353 rolls of tape and 11 moving trucks.

Welcome back, football. We missed you.

Jets: Burning questions on eve of camp

July, 22, 2014
Jul 22
4:15
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You know the drill. The New York Jets' training camp opens Wednesday, which means there are questions. We've got answers.

1. When will Rex Ryan name his starting quarterback?

Smith
Technically, we've been waiting 11 months, but that is an old story and this is no time to look back. The conventional approach is to name the starter after the third preseason game (Aug. 22 against the New York Giants), but it wouldn't be a surprise if Ryan moves up the timetable. It all depends on Geno Smith, the front-runner. If he plays lights-out in the first two games and gets the nod over Michael Vick versus the Giants, it will be a fait accompli. Memo to Ryan: The health of your quarterback is more important than the Snoopy Trophy.

2. Are there any injured players that bear watching as camp opens?

Yes, three in particular: Running back Chris Johnson (knee), right guard Willie Colon (knee/biceps) and linebacker Antwan Barnes (knee). Obviously, Johnson's health is a big key to the Jets' season, so you can count on his surgically repaired knee being a topic of conversation throughout camp. The plan is to put him on a modified practice schedule, building toward the Sept. 7 opener. It will be interesting to see how they use him in the exhibitions. Johnson likes his touches; he's had anywhere from 19 to 33 carries in the preseason over the course of his career. It wouldn't be a shock if Colon and/or Barnes begin camp on the physically-unable-to-perform list as they work their way back into shape. It will be a breath of fresh air, not having to chronicle the "will-he-or-won't-he?" whims of Santonio Holmes and his damaged wheel.

3. Is there strength in numbers at wide receiver?

Decker
The Jets have seven receivers with NFL experience, including marquee newcomer Eric Decker, plus three draft picks. Not one of them, however, is a true game-changer. You can still win with solid, dependable receivers (look at the Seattle Seahawks), and the Jets have three in Decker, Jeremy Kerley and David Nelson. You will read a lot this summer about Stephen Hill, who almost certainly will make the all-Cortland team, as usual. The question, as usual, is whether he can sustain it for the regular season. If you are looking for a dark horse, keep an eye on veteran Greg Salas, who impressed the coaches in minicamp.

4. Which returning starters are in danger of losing their jobs?

Not counting Smith, who will be "pushed" by Vick (that is the oft-used company line), the players facing the most competition are Colon, tight end Jeff Cumberland and safety Dawan Landry. In each case, there is a young player in the picture battling for playing time. Chances are, the tight-end situation will be a time-share between Cumberland and second-round pick Jace Amaro, whose role will hinge on how quickly he can absorb the offense. Based on minicamp, it will take some time.

5. Is there anything to worry about on defense?

The secondary is the No. 1 concern. This probably will be the youngest defensive backfield of the Ryan era, with a second-year cornerback (Dee Milliner), a rookie safety (Calvin Pryor), a third-year safety (Antonio Allen) and a rookie cornerback (Dexter McDougle) projected to play prominent roles. Can you say "growing pains"? If veteran corner Dimitri Patterson gets hurt, which he tends to do, it will put a strain on this rebuilding unit.

6. What's the deal with all the playoff chatter? Is the optimism justified?

Sure, why not? 'Tis the season for happy talk. The Jets finished 8-8, added some talent and lost only two players that played more than 500 snaps last season -- right tackle Austin Howard and cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who stunk. Expressing confidence is fine as long as it doesn't cloud their minds with unrealistic expectations.

While we were on vacation ...

July, 21, 2014
Jul 21
10:30
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The three-week respite is over, and it's time to get back to football. Before we look ahead to Wednesday, when the New York Jets report to training camp in Cortland, New York, let's take a look back at what I missed over the last three weeks.

No news is good news: It was uneventful for the Jets, which, of course, is every coach's dream for the slow time before camp. There were no arrests and no off-the-field injuries (none that have come to light, anyway.) Nowadays, you can't take this stuff for granted. The Buffalo Bills (season-ending knee injury to LB Kiko Alonso) and the Baltimore Ravens (multiple arrests), for example, were in the headlines for the wrong reasons, creating problems and distractions. For Rex Ryan, it was blissfully quiet.

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Happy talk: The optimism is flowing like Gatorade, which is what you'd expect in July. In recent interviews, Geno Smith said the Jets are capable of a Super Bowl run and Ryan all but predicted a postseason berth. Love the confidence (shades of the old Rex), but I think we need to tap the brakes just a bit, especially with the Super Bowl talk. The Jets are headed in the right direction, and they should be thinking playoffs after an 8-8 season (it's the next step, right?), but let's keep it real. They're still looking up at the New England Patriots and at least a handful of other teams in the AFC.

Andre the Jet?: I find it interesting that, whenever a star player becomes available (or might become available), there's a mad rush to see if the Jets are interested. The recent rumor involved Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson, who is unhappy and may want out. First of all, I'd be surprised if the Texans trade him. If they decide to put him on the block, the Jets won't be interested -- at least that's the current feeling in the organization. Remember, John Idzik is the general manager, not Mike Tannenbaum, who was a big-name hunter. The Jets don't do business that way anymore. Idzik signed two free-agent receivers and drafted three others, so he's in no rush to junk his handiwork by trading for a 33-year-old receiver making $10 million a year.

Ah, memories: In case you missed it, ESPN.com conducted a fan survery during the break, determining the most memorable play for every team. By an overwhelming margin, the fans (not media) voted the Butt Fumble the Jets' most memorable play. In an NCAA-style bracket, the Butt Fumble lost in the first round to the Patriots' top play, the "Tuck Rule" game. Once again, the fans voted. But that's ancient history now. A new season is upon us, a time to create new memories and erase painful ones from the past.

Training camp preview: Quarterback

July, 13, 2014
Jul 13
8:00
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Breaking down the New York Jets' roster, unit by unit, in preparation for training camp, which starts July 23.

Position: quarterback

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Projected starter: Geno Smith.

Projected reserves: Michael Vick, Tajh Boyd.

Notable on the bubble: Matt Simms.

Player to watch: Obviously, it's Smith. He'll be under a daily microscope, with everyone -- coaches, media, fans -- looking to see if he has improved as much as the Jets said he has throughout the spring. He'll get about 70 to 75 percent of the first-team reps in practice, which means two things: The coaches are planning to structure training camp in a way that will allow Smith to claim the starting job if he performs at a competent level. But instead of giving him the typical share of starter reps (roughly 90 percent), they're hedging their bet, trying to get Vick ready in case Smith flops. It's a delicate balancing act, but there shouldn't be any issues as long as Smith doesn't blow it.

Top storyline: The Smith-Vick dynamic will be a fascinating watch. Smith has a great deal of respect for Vick, certainly more than he had for Mark Sanchez, but he also knows Vick represents a legitimate threat to his job. Vick already is popular among his new teammates, and his candid style will make him a media favorite as well. How will young Geno handle that?

Training camp will be a success if ... Reporters aren't asking Rex Ryan before the final preseason game why he hasn't named a starting quarterback. If they are, it means the Jets are waffling. Worse, it could mean there's an injury to consider (shades of last summer). The best-case scenario, from the team's perspective, is that Smith plays so well that the announcement is anticlimactic. If that's the case, Ryan could reveal his choice before the third game. Technically, Smith hasn't been named anything even though he has 16 starts on his résumé.

Wild card: General manager John Idzik. We know how he feels about competition. We also know how that backfired last preseason -- i.e., Sanchez's pointless injury. Idzik should have a minimal role in the quarterback decision, leaving it up to the coaches.

By the numbers: Smith has to do a better job under a heavy pass rush. When pressured, he completed only 28.7 percent of his passes (27-for-94) with one touchdown, five interceptions and a 28.5 passer rating, which ranked 38th in the league, per ESPN Stats & Information.

Sunday notes: Geno the scrambler

June, 29, 2014
Jun 29
5:00
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Cleaning out the notebook on the New York Jets:

1. The Geno plan: Geno Smith caught teams by surprise at the end of last season, running with more frequency than before. He carried 31 times for 186 yards and three touchdowns over the final four games, accounting for roughly half his total production. Clearly, the change in strategy helped him become a better quarterback, an upswing that made the Jets buy in for at least another year. But now, as one opposing player noted, defenses will be better prepared to stop Geno the scrambler.

"I think he'll be better this year, but the other thing is, every team will have had the opportunity to watch 16 games and break him down," Tennessee Titans CB Jason McCourty told me last week at a charity golf tournament on Long Island.

McCourty, who faced Smith last season (a brutal day for the Jets' QB) and will see him again in December, makes a good point. After studying him in the offseason, teams will scheme up ways to keep him in the pocket. They were unprepared for it late last year because he had shown no inclination to run, which frustrated the Jets' coaches at times. Facts are facts: When Smith runs, the offense runs better. The Jets were 6-1 when Smith had five or more carries and 6-0 when he scored a touchdown.

Opponents will go to school on the final four games, count on it.

2. Buying QB insurance: Belated thoughts on Marty Mornhinweg's comment that Smith will get 70 to 75 percent of the first-team reps in training camp: It shows that, as Michael Vick noted on more than one occasion, it's not an open competition. At the same time, the percentage indicates the Jets aren't all-in with Smith. They're hedging their bet, giving Vick one out of every four reps to get him ready -- just in case. Normally, a veteran starter gets about 90 percent of the reps.

3. Anything you can do ... : DT Sheldon Richardson, the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year for 2013, said in a recent interview that rookie S Calvin Pryor has the goods to match his accomplishment. When I asked Pryor his reaction to Richardson's raising-the-bar remarks, he didn't back down one bit.

"When it comes down to it, that's one of the goals I have in the back of my head," the Jets' first-round pick said. "I'll definitely try to fill his shoes."

In case you're wondering, no team has produced back-to-back winners in the 47-year history of the award. In 1980, two members of the Atlanta Falcons' defense split the award, Buddy Curry and Al Richardson.

4. Home bodies: There was some talk about the Jets having dual practices with the Cincinnati Bengals during the run-up to their Aug. 16 preseason game, but the Jets have decided to remain in Cortland, N.Y., for that week. From what I hear, there wasn't too much disappointment in the locker room about skipping the Cincy trip.

5. The joy of Rex: I've heard a lot of players over the years talk about why they enjoy playing for Rex Ryan, but I was particularly interested in listening to Dimitri Patterson, who came from a place -- the Miami Dolphins -- where there was an obvious disconnect between players and coaches.

"Rex gives off this positive energy that spreads around," Patterson told me. "That's why the guys played so hard for him toward the end of the year. What stands out to me is he knows how to put his players in a positive space, mentally."

Maybe Phil Jackson isn't the only Zen master in New York.

6. Michael Vick, cont.: In a sitdown last week, I asked Vick to name his greatest career accomplishment. He thought for a moment.

"I think my greatest accomplishment in my career was being such a young quarterback and having the guile to go into Green Bay in 2002, being a second-year player and making history, basically," he said, referring to the Falcons' playoff upset -- the first road team to win a postseason game at Lambeau Field. "Going in with confidence and winning that football game was I think my greatest accomplishment."

It was a great win, to be sure, but I don't think anything short of a championship can satisfy a "greatest accomplishment" question for 12 years.

7. Farewell to an original: One of the original New York Titans, guard Bob Mischak, died Thursday at the age of 81. He began his career with the New York Giants, but he'll be remembered in Jets/Titans history as the first player to receive all-star recognition. He was the only member of the Titans named to the AFL all-star team in 1960, the franchise's first year. He won three Super Bowl rings as an assistant coach with the Oakland Raiders, and he also coached in Italy and London. That's what you call a full life.

8. Cro the Cardinal: In a post on Instagram, former Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie mocks his critics, saying he ran two sub-4.4 times in the 40. If we write about it, he'll find a way to rip us for misquoting him.

9. He's not Mike Westhoff: Sensed a little edge in Thomas McGaughey's voice when he was asked about the scheme differences between him and his predecessor, Ben Kotwica, and his predecessor's predecessor, Mike Westhoff.

"I’m not Mike Westhoff. I’m not going to try to be Mike Westhoff," said McGaughey, who was hired in February to coach the special teams. "My name is Thomas McGaughey, Jr. and I can be the best me that I can possibly be, and that’s where it stops. Mike Westhoff was a hell of a coach, is a hell of a coach, and he had a great career. Ben was a great coach in his own right. But I’m me. I’m not going to try to be anybody else. I’m not going to try to act like anybody else. I’m going to be Thomas Ray McGaughey, Jr."

All right, then ...

10. Vacation time: I'll be shutting it down for the next three weeks, but make sure you stay locked to our Jets team page. The blog will be populated with interesting features, starting this coming week with another edition of the AFC East "Four Downs" segment -- four team reporters tackling hot issues as camp approaches. The following week, we'll roll out our "Most Memorable Play" series across the league, which is sure to generate debate. After that, we'll start our daily position previews for training camp, which starts July 23. Until then, I'm chilling.

Jets' rebuilt secondary goes green

June, 26, 2014
Jun 26
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Two of the MICs (most important coaches) in training camp will be defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman and secondary coach Tim McDonald. They're charged with the responsibility of guiding a young group through its formative stage, trying to minimize the growing pains along the way.

This won't be easy. In the post-Darrelle Revis/post-Antonio Cromartie era, the secondary is in transition. In fact, there are five players -- all of whom have a good chance of making the team -- who are new to the Rex Ryan defensive system: veterans Dimitri Patterson, Ras-I Dowling and Johnny Patrick, and rookies Calvin Pryor and Dexter McDougle.

It'll be summer school in Cortland, N.Y.

[+] EnlargeDimitri Patterson
Steve Mitchell/USA TODAY SportsDimitri Patterson has impressed in his brief time with the Jets.
"(The) lack of experience that shows up at times, but the talent is there," Thurman said. "We know that we have guys that can play. We just have to make sure that we communicate the things that we are supposed to do. If we do that, I think we’ll be fine."

Ryan's system isn't easy because it's predicated on communication, players communicating with teammates before the snap. The beauty of the system is that it's not rigid; it gives players the flexibility to make pre-snap adjustments. But the players have to know what the heck they're doing before the defense can perform a graduate-level curriculum, as Ryan might say.

One of the reasons why his defense has thrived with older players, vets thought to be on the downside of their careers, is because he can tap into their vast experience, providing game plans that younger players can't handle. Who knows? Maybe Patterson, 31, becomes one of those guys.

"A guy who knows how to play," Thurman said of Patterson. "(He) brings knowledge and depth to our secondary. He can play nickel as well, so right now we are very pleased with Dimitri."

The oldest member of the secondary is Dawan Landry, 31, whose background in Ryan's system will make him a proverbial coach on the field. Thing is, he might not be on the field as much as last season because of the young talent at safety. Pryor, drafted 18th overall, is a virtual lock as an opening-day starter.

"We'll answer that after training camp, but he’s a talented kid, we drafted him No. 1," Thurman said. "We feel like he can bring a lot to our secondary, so we’ll see."

By the end of the season, perhaps sooner, McDougle could have a prominent role. The Jets are high on their third-round pick, who impressed during the final two weeks of the offseason program. He missed most of the offseason, still recovering from shoulder surgery last fall.

"I think he is everything we thought he was going to be," Thurman said. "He's a young, talented kid, he is very serious (and) he loves football. There are some guys that you look at them and you say, 'All right, he was built to play this position.' He was built to play corner."
Hall of Famer Curtis Martin, one of the central figures in the New York Jets-New England Patriots rivalry over the past 20 years, said Monday it would be a significant advantage for the Patriots if they have a copy of Rex Ryan's playbook.

Since PlaybookGate erupted last Thursday, most experts have downplayed the potential impact of having an opponent's playbook. Not Martin, who responded this way when asked if it could help coach Bill Belichick:

"Oh, tremendously, to be honest with you," Martin told ESPN.com at the Big Daddy Celebrity Golf Classic at Oheka Castle in Huntington, New York. "What most people don't understand is that football is a science. There are little signals and little movements from one person that can give an indication on where the entire play is going. I think it can have a tremendous effect on a game. If we're playing chess and I understand all of your moves before you make them, my probability of winning is pretty high."

Martin said he wasn't taken aback by Ryan's decision to give a playbook to Alabama coach Nick Saban, whom former Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine suspects may have passed it along to Belichick. Martin figures that sort of stuff goes on between coaches. Belichick, he said, doesn't need any help.

"Belichick is one of those football savants," he said. "He (understands) the game, especially from a defensive perspective, at a different level. Does he need it? No. Does he have it? I don't know. I don't think so. Who knows? I don't like to talk on things that are assumptions. If they come out and say Belichick has the book, I'd say, yeah, it makes a big difference."

Patriots safety Devin McCourty said he laughed when he first heard the story.

"I have no idea about any of that," said McCourty, who also attended the charity golf outing. "I feel like to comment on it keeps the nonsense going."

Another person with knowledge of the Jets-Patriots rivalry, Eric Mangini, said the benefit of having an opponent's playbook would be minimal.

"There may be some value from an off-season perspective, but you still have to get through the terminology and you have to get through the adjustments," said the former Jets coach and ex-Patriots assistant. "Ideally, you have someone in the system that can take you through it. From a weekly perspective, it would be hard to get much (useful information) because you can't be sure that what's in there is what you're going to see."

Mangini is the broken branch on Belichick's coaching tree. He was cut off when he reported Belichick's illegal spying tactics to the league, resulting in SpyGate. So, yes, he can relate to the Pettine-Ryan situation. He's not sure why Pettine revealed such information, but Mangini believes it has been blown out of proportion by the media. Asked if he's ever given a playbook to a friend or colleague outside his organization, he paused for a moment.

"Typically, I haven't done that," he said, "but I don't think it's so far out of the range of what happens."

Jets offseason recap: Risers and fallers

June, 23, 2014
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With the offseason in the books, let's take a step back to analyze some of the players who helped themselves the most in the offseason -- and some who didn't.

THREE RISERS

1. Oday Aboushi, left guard: The former fifth-round pick, coming off what amounted to a "redshirt" rookie year, played his way into the conversation as a possible starter. He finished minicamp as the starting left guard, replacing Brian Winters, who moved to right guard to replace the injured Willie Colon. Aboushi, who struggled last year at tackle, may benefit from the move inside because it could hide his shortcomings in pass protection. Colon expects to be ready for training camp, so there will be three players vying for two starting jobs. We'll see how Aboushi responds when the pads go on.

[+] EnlargeDexter McDougle
Rich Schultz /Getty ImagesThird-round pick Dexter McDougle worked his way up to second team by the end of minicamp.
2. Dexter McDougle, cornerback: Rex Ryan admitted his concerns about drafting McDougle in the third round -- injury-related worries -- but he's a believer now. After sitting out for most of the offseason to protect his surgically repaired shoulder, McDougle returned for the final two weeks, working his way up the depth chart to second team. He's smart and aggressive, not afraid to mix it up with receivers at the line of scrimmage. The coaches now believe he could push for serious playing time.

3. Ras-I Dowling, cornerback: When the Jets were striking out in free agency, failing to land a big-time corner, Ryan kept insisting he was happy with his current personnel. He named names, always mentioning Dowling. Cynics (including me) wondered the same thing: Ras-I Dowling? He spent last season on the Jets' practice squad after being dumped by the New England Patriots, but the talent is there. He was the 33rd pick in the 2011 draft, only three spots behind Muhammad Wilkerson. It was an impressive spring for Dowling, who now has a legitimate chance to make the team.

THREE FALLERS

1. Caleb Schlauderaff, center: Only a couple of years ago, former general manager Mike Tannenbaum touted Schlauderaff as the Jets' version of Victor Cruz -- a super sleeper. He's almost asleep, all right. Schlauderaff, the Jets' only reserve lineman with regular-season experience (all of 14 snaps), was relegated to third-team duty in minicamp, falling behind Dalton Freeman as Nick Mangold's backup. Schlauderaff will have a tough time making the team if Freeman, an impressive former undrafted free agent, continues to develop.

2. Matt Simms, quarterback: Last year's feel-good story got off to a hot start in organized team activities, but he cooled off toward the end of the offseason, including minicamp. Simms didn't get as many reps as the coaches would've liked, and reps will be hard to come by in training camp as well. Looking ahead, coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said he's "looking for (Simms) to make one more big step" -- an indication he's still in the team's plans. But rookie Tajh Boyd is lurking and will provide competition. Simms needs a strong camp if he wants to claim the No. 3 job.

3. Dawan Landry, safety: From all indications, Landry enjoyed a terrific offseason, receiving effusive praise from Ryan and earning recognition for his work in the conditioning program. But, at the same time, Landry lost ground. How is that possible? They drafted Calvin Pryor in the first round and paired him with third-year safety Antonio Allen in the starting lineup, allowing the young tandem to learn and develop chemistry. Ryan insisted that Landry still will have an important role, but things won't be the same. You can bet he won't play 98 percent of the defensive snaps, as he did last season.

Rex Ryan in Brazil to watch World Cup

June, 22, 2014
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Say this for Rex Ryan: He takes cool vacations.

One year removed from a trip to Pamplona, Spain, where he participated in the celebrated running of the bulls, the New York Jets' coach is vacationing in Brazil to check out the World Cup. Ryan was in Brazil for Sunday's Belgium-Russia match. Not many NFL coaches are recognized around the world, but a picture of Ryan showed up on Twitter, confirming his whereabouts. Looks like he has pretty good seats, too.

Ryan has been hanging around world-class soccer recently. He got a chance to meet the Portuguese national team during their recent training sessions at the Jets' facility in Florham Park, New Jersey, but his game-day attire -- a red, white and blue shirt -- confirms his rooting interest. You might say he's a true patriot -- small P, that is.

Day-after thoughts on PlaybookGate

June, 20, 2014
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Never a dull moment around the New York Jets. A few takeaways on Thursday's firestorm involving Rex Ryan, Mike Pettine, Bill Belichick and Nick Saban:
  1. If Belichick received a copy of the Jets' defensive playbook from Saban (personally, I don't think he did), it wouldn't have helped that much, if at all. As ESPN Boston colleague Mike Reiss discovered, it's easy to access a team's playbook via the Internet. Check out footballxos.com. The website has an 80-page copy of the Jets' 2010 defensive playbook, along with playbooks from several other teams, including the New England Patriots. Even though Belichick likes to mock himself for not being tech savvy, I'm pretty sure he knows how to execute a Google search. I agree with Ryan: It's "ridiculous" to suggest that possession of the playbook would've given the Patriots an edge over the Jets. You want to know the Patriots' edge? They have Tom Brady and the Jets don't. Period.
  2. I don't understand why Pettine chose to go public with this, saying Ryan gives out playbooks "like candy." I'm curious to hear Pettine's take, but he's on vacation and hasn't commented. As of now, this smacks of disloyalty. Has Pettine forgotten that he got his start in the NFL from Ryan, who pulled him out of the Baltimore Ravens' film room and gave him a chance to help with the defense? They decided to split up after the 2012 season, and Pettine evidently harbors bitterness. His comments cast Ryan in a poor light, making him look like a fool for giving away secrets -- and that isn't the case at all. Ryan was upset and hurt that Pettine said what he said. This wasn't quite Eric Mangini ratting out Belichick in SpyGate, but it's along those lines. The craziest part? It put Ryan in a position in which he actually defended his nemesis, Belichick, and criticized his (former) best friend.
  3. This story has been overblown in terms of the impact it may or may not have on the field, but it's also naive to suggest it's not a story at all. Of course it is. It involves the Jets and the Patriots, once busted for illegal spying. It's absolutely newsworthy. What's better than skullduggery between two bitter rivals?

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