Saturday, August 18, 2012
22 things we learned in 22 days
By Rich Cimini
Before we move into the next phase of the preseason, starting with Saturday night's game against the Giants, let's review what we learned over 22 days in Cortland:
1. Tim Tebow is what he is. Nice guy, heck of a runner, but he still can't throw straight. He holds the ball too long, doesn't anticipate well and tends to stay on his first read. In other words, he's as advertised.
2. Mark Sanchez has matured. This isn't just my opinion; this is the feeling in the organization. The arrivals of Tony Sparano (loud) and Tebow (fan favorite) provided a double-shot of reality for Sanchez.
3. The disappearing coach. Rex Ryan lost 100-plus pounds and, much to the chagrin of the media, he also lost some of his bluster. Except for his "I'm the best defensive coach in the league" proclamation, Ryan toned down the bravado.
4. Year of the 'Cat. The Jets are dead serious about this Wildcat thing (see: two clandestine practices), and I think the over-under on Wildcat plays is eight per game. That would be about 13 percent of the offense.
5. Tony Time. The Jets are tickled to have Sparano on staff. There are some people who actually believe Sparano could have a Belichick-like career arc: Fired in his first head-coaching gig, rehabilitates his image as a successful coordinator and hits it big in his next head job.
6. Tone Time. Forget all the lip service; we won't find out if Santonio Holmes has really changed until the regular season, when he's getting double teamed every week and not seeing the ball as much as he'd like. Then we'll see.
7. Special K. Fantasy alert: Look for TE Dustin Keller to have a big year. He was their most reliable receiver in camp, and you know he'll get plenty of chances because of the wide-receiver situation. He'll be plenty motivated because this is a contract year.
8. The book on Q. Rookie DE Quinton Coples arrived with the reputation for having hot-and-cold intensity, and he hasn't disproved that despite a terrific NFL debut. Calvin Pace said, "One thing I'd like to see with Q is just urgency a little bit in practice." Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine wanted to send a message last week by putting Coples' game jersey in his practice locker, but it already had been shipped to New Jersey.
9. The safeties may surprise in the base defense. LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell have been criticized for their coverage ability, but I think they'll be fine in the base. They may, however, struggle against teams that spead the field (i.e. the Patriots and Bills), forcing defenders to play in space. The Jets open against the Bills.
10. The 3-4 is alive. There was a lot of buzz in the spring about using more 4-3 fronts than in the past. They will, but they're not going to abandon the 3-4, based on what I saw in camp.
11. Bilal be seeing you. After a nothing rookie year, RB Bilal Powell turned heads in camp and has moved ahead of Joe McKnight as the third-down back. Powell won't take your breath away, but he's a solid, workmanlike back.
12. Revis, truly an island. Darrelle Revis was a big story at the start of camp (just because he actually showed up, eschewing a holdout), but he faded from the spotlight. He seemed a bit disconnected. Some around the team wonder if it was because he's still unhappy with his contract.
13. Stick to your day job. It was the most overblown story in camp, CB Antonio Cromartie and the prospect of playing wide receiver. I bet he doesn't get more than 10 snaps at receiver all season.
14. The big hurt. Keep an eye on Sione Po'uha's back injury; they can't afford to lose him. Not only is he a terrific run stuffer and an emotional leader on defense, but his backup, Kenrick Ellis, isn't ready for a significant role.
15. Going Greene. Is there a more non-descript feature back in the league than Shonn Greene? He barely drew any attention in camp. The Jets better hope it's the calm before the storm.
16. Returning to their roots. Word has it the defense will make a subtle shift, going back to more man-to-man coverage. Last season, they played more zone than usual. The change probably stems from Ryan becoming more involved in the defense.
17. Garbo-esque. Here's someone you'll never hear on a radio show -- offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo. He's no fan of the media. The other day, he opened an interview session by warning reporters to stand back because he'd be spitting tobacco juice.
18. Tebow-mania underwhelmed. The Jets drew 35,600 fans to 11 open practices, including 9,200 for the scrimmage. Take away the scrimmage, and they averaged about 2,640 per practice. Frankly, I expected more.
19. Hill topper. Rookie WR Stephen Hill can play -- and he knows it. He definitely has some swagger, which isn't a bad thing for a receiver.
20. Bart is back. Loquacious linebacker Bart Scott, who turned all moody last season, is back to his old self, yapping on and off the field. Call it a return to normalcy.
21. The most improved player nobody read about. DT Mike DeVito came to camp in the best shape of his career, earning praise for his improved athleticism. A lot of us had him on the bench when they drafted Coples, but DeVito has turned it up a notch.
22. Good eats. Doug's Fish Fry still rocks.