Friday, June 15, 2012
10 things we learned in minicamp
By Rich Cimini
Putting a bow on the Jets' three-day minicamp, which concluded Thursday:
1. The Jets are absolutely committed to Mark Sanchez as their starting QB. Yeah, we already knew that, but the organization reinforced it by going to such great lengths to squash any notion of a potential controversy. I mean, when was the last time you saw a coach giving an unsolicited explanation to the media on why the backup got two first-team reps? This was all part of the Jets' united-front campaign.
2. While on the subject of Sanchez, he didn't have an efficient minicamp. Yes, it's a new offense and, yes, his receiving corps was banged up, but there were times when he didn't seem comfortable throwing the football. Minicamp stats are virtually meaningless, but I'm going to give them anyway -- 11-for-29, with four sacks and three near-interceptions. On the positive side, he didn't have any turnovers, and that's a huge area of emphasis for him. Overall, this wasn't a great showing, but it was a learning experience and it should help him in training camp.
3. Tim Tebow (11-for-18, two sacks, 1 TD) performed as expected. He showed arm strength and a decent touch on long throws, but he still has that elongated throwing motion -- i.e. a slow release. He was indecisive with some of his reads, especially in red-zone drills. His accuracy was inconsistent, but everybody knew that about him. He is who he is. Tebow revealed that he's up to 249 pounds, by design, a sure sign that he'll be carrying the ball out of the wildcat.
4. The Jets weren't kidding when they said a few weeks ago that they'd be mixing in more 4-3 fronts this season. They showed a lot of 4-3 in minicamp, using different combinations. Sometimes they used four true linemen, and sometimes they used OLB Calvin Pace as a defensive end. It doesn't mean it will be their new base defense, but it's there if needed. It gives opponents something else to think about.
5. New OC Tony Sparano was good for morale. Let me explain. His desire to become a physical, run-oriented team created a sense of identity on offense. The defensive players also liked Sparano because he forced them to play faster (he constantly harped on increasing the tempo) and he showed them new looks, forcing them to adjust on the fly. The defense was bored by Brian Schottenheimer's offense because, after so many years, it became predictable to them. It lulled them to sleep and they probably didn't get as much out of practice as they should've.
6. Players that impressed me: Rookie DE Quinton Coples, WR Chaz Schilens, S Yeremiah Bell, PK Josh Brown, WR Royce Pollard and WR DaMarcus Ganaway.
7. Players that didn't impress me: WR Jeremy Kerley, TE Jeff Cumberland, G Vladimir Ducasse and CB Kyle Wilson.
8. There is no doubt the Jets are a better conditioned team than a year ago, starting with a better conditioned head coach.
9. I learned that big NT Kenrick Ellis couldn't do a single pull up when he arrived a year ago. Rex Ryan dropped that nugget in Thursday's news conference, which I'm sure Ellis appreciated. Ellis is a key player this season. The scholarship has expired; the Jets need him to be part of their D-line rotation. He'll be behind when he gets to training camp, going from jail to Cortland.
10. S Eric Smith made some nice plays on the ball. I know fans are down on him because of his pass-coverage struggles from last season, but Smith will be a key player in the secondary. With Jim Leonhard out of the picture, he's the only safety that knows the system and, after minor knee surgery, he seemed to be running better than last year.