Sunday notes: Geno hopes to copy Rodgers

August, 10, 2014
Aug 10
8:00
AM ET
CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Catching up with the New York Jets:

1. Rodgers, that: Geno Smith said recently he expects to be a top-five quarterback in a year or two. When he gets there -- if he gets there -- he figures his style of play will resemble someone already in that elite fraternity -- Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers.

"I liken myself to him," Smith told ESPN.com. "He throws a great ball and he's very accurate in the pocket, but he's also skilled enough to run around. He's got enough speed to score when it's there. I think I'm pretty fast -- I think I can run pretty good -- but I also want to be one of those guys that can play from the pocket."

The Jets, and their fans, would sign up for Rodgers 2.0 in a heartbeat. Smith actually is faster than Rodgers. Smith's scouting-combine time in the 40 was 4.59 seconds. When he came out in 2005, Rodgers clocked a 4.71. The stopwatch doesn't mean much, though, especially for quarterbacks. Truth be told, Rodgers had time on his side. He caddied for three years, backing up Brett Favre. Smith didn't have that luxury and it showed at times. His instincts for the position, including knowing when to run, came into question. After rebooting in the offseason, he expects big things.

You're just glad he didn't say Tom Brady, right?

2. Three's not a crowd: The Jets' defensive line has high expectations for itself. How high?

[+] EnlargeSheldon Richardson
Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY SportsSheldon Richardson is touting the Jets defensive line for the Pro Bowl.
"I hope the whole defensive line goes (to the Pro Bowl)," said Sheldon Richardson, referring to himself, Muhammad Wilkerson and Damon Harrison.

Is that feasible?

"I'm pretty sure it is," Richardson said. "Always a first."

Actually, it wouldn't be a first. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the last time it happened was 2008, when three members of the Minnesota Vikings' defensive line were selected to the Pro Bowl -- Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and Pat Williams. The Buffalo Bills sent three last year (Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus), but Dareus was an injury replacement. It still was an impressive feat, one the Jets hope to emulate.

3. Don't hold the salt: Love this quote from defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, who, by the way, was the Vikings' line coach for their Pro Bowl hat trick. Dunbar: "We've got a chance to be a pretty salty front. That's an old country thing. Back where I'm from in Louisiana, you didn't have a whole bunch of refrigerators, so you salted the meat to make it last longer. So we're salty because we want to last long."

Dunbar said he has shared that description with his players.

"So a salty front is a good front," I said to him.

"Is a great front," he said.

4. 'Franchise' player: For the Jets to make the playoffs, the two most improved players have to be Smith and cornerback Dee Milliner, both in their second seasons. Milliner's importance to the defense isn't lost on his teammates. Demario Davis' nickname for him is "Franchise."

"He's the key part of the defense," Davis said. "The better he plays, the better the defense could be."

Agree. Totally.

5. Looking for 'Mo money: Wilkerson isn't making a big deal about his contract situation, but I wonder how he'll feel when J.J. Watt, picked 20 spots ahead of him in the first round of the 2011 draft, lands a monster extension. I wouldn't be surprised if that happens soon. The Houston Texans exercised their fifth-year option with Watt, who, like Wilkerson, is signed through 2015.

6. Flag watch: It'll be interesting to see how the Jets, who play aggressive, man-to-man coverage, respond to the league's new emphasis on illegal contact downfield. Ryan wants penalties to be called if there's a legit penalty, but his hope is that it's not "overly (restrictive)." Fortunately for the Jets, their starting corners don't have a history of penalties. Milliner had no penalties last season, according to NFL stats. Dimitri Patterson had only two penalties in an abbreviated season with the Miami Dolphins. As a team, the Jets were flagged only once for illegal contact in 2013. The team's penalty machine, Antonio Cromartie, was shipped out of town.

7. The new 24: Patterson is off to a shaky start, and the fact that he's wearing No. 24 won't help matters if he struggles during the regular season. The Jets used to have a pretty good corner who wore No. 24 -- Darrelle Revis. When I mentioned 24 to Patterson, without even uttering Revis' name, he picked up on it immediately: "You have a lot of scrutiny at this position because you had Revis and Cromartie. They were consistently competitive, year in, year out, so there's a standard that has been set." Yep.

8. It takes two: My prediction is that a newcomer will lead the team in rushing (Chris Johnson) and a newcomer will lead the team in receptions (Eric Decker). The last time newcomers led those categories in the same season was 1993. That year, it was the same person, running back Johnny Johnson, who rushed for 821 yards and caught 67 passes.

9. The anti-divas: One thing about the Jets' wide receivers: Most of them aren't afraid to get their hands dirty. On Johnson's 1-yard touchdown run against the Indianapolis Colts, David Nelson wiped out a cornerback with a cut block. It was executed so well, the corner landed on his head.

10. Sleeper with the funny name: The 12-player draft class isn't generating too much buzz, but one name keeps coming up among players -- sixth-round pass rusher IK Enemkpali. He's doing well on special teams and he sealed Thursday night's victory with a strip sack in the final minute.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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