Sunday, May 5, 2013
Sunday notes: The Jets' party of five
By Rich Cimini
Checking out the Jets on a sandwich Sunday, between the draft and rookie minicamp:
1. The Idzik Five: The Jets can bill it as a five-way quarterback competition now, but it's impossible to have a five-man battle in training camp. A four-way also would be difficult. Even a three-man fight would be pushing the envelope. Remember, two-a-day practices are history, so reps are at a premium. When they're in Cortland this summer, the Jets can't lose sight of the most important objectives. In addition to picking a starting quarterback, they have to learn and get comfortable with a new offense and -- this may sound overly simplistic -- get their starters ready for Week 1. They can't let the quarterback situation preoccupy them and become counterproductive for the team.
It seems like new GM John Idzik will follow the Seahawks' model from last preseason. The breakdown of the actual game reps shows it was basically a two-man race: Russell Wilson 138 snaps, Matt Flynn 99, Josh Portis 31 and Tarvaris Jackson eight, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Seahawks didn't have to learn a new system on the fly, a huge benefit.
In the Jets' version, rookie Geno Smith will play the role of Wilson; he'll get every chance to show he can play. Sanchez bears similarities to both Flynn (big contracts) and Jackson (incumbents on thin ice). He has to get a decent number of reps because he could be the starter or he could be trade bait. David Garrard is the wild card. He could be the fallback option if Smith isn't ready and Sanchez is shipped out, meaning he, too, will need quality reps. As for Greg McElroy and Matt Simms, one of them figures to be left behind when the team leaves for Cortland in late July. I wonder if Rex Ryan has any juggling experience.
P.S.: Before the final pre-season game, the Seahawks traded Jackson to the Bills. Will the same happen to Sanchez? A fascinating summer awaits.
1.a. Slow hand: One thing we've already learned about Idzik: He doesn't rush into big decisions. He let the Darrelle Revis soap opera play out for three months before pulling the trigger (in the end, a good move) and he held on to Tim Tebow until he exhausted all efforts, however futile, to trade him. You can bet he'll take his sweet time to sort out the quarterback situation.
2. Warming to Geno: Smith is getting beat up for a lot of things, but there's one criticism that makes no sense -- this notion that he's a poor cold-weather quarterback. In college, he was 4-1 when the game-time temperature was under 41 degrees. The lone defeat came last December against Syracuse in the snowy Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. He was lousy, no question about it, but it was his only bad game in the cold. His stats in the five cold games read like this: 90-for-126 (71 percent), 1,215 yards, 10 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. If that's bad, the Jets would sign up for bad in a New York minute.
3. All hands on deck: Bills coach Doug Marrone, in an interview last week, provided some insight into why they preferred EJ Manuel over every quarterback in the draft. He said their research showed that quarterbacks with big hands tend to perform better in cold-weather cities. Of the five highest-drafted quarterbacks, Manuel has the biggest hands -- 10 3/8 inches from thumb to pinky. The smallest? That would be Smith (9 1/4 inches), which may explain why he had 32 fumbles in 39 career starts. In the aforementioned cold-weather games, Smith was charged with seven fumbles, losing three.
4. Xs and Os and Zzzz: The Smith texting story calls to mind a story that has become almost legendary at One Jets Drive. One time, a player on a pre-draft visit actually fell asleep while waiting outside the office of former GM Mike Tannenbaum. I'd love to reveal the identity of the player, but I promised I wouldn't. I'll just say this: The Jets didn't draft him; another AFC East team picked him in the first round. Conversely, there's the story of WR Stephen Hill, who visited the Jets last year in a business suit. Now that's the way you impress on a job interview.
5. Poor Tim: Tim Tebow could make history, but not the kind of history he covets. He could become only the second quarterback never to start another game after winning in the playoffs. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, via the Denver Post, the only quarterback in that club is Bob Lee. He started two playoff games for the Vikings in 1977, replacing the injured Fran Tarkenton, and that was all she wrote.
6. Chip off the old Pete: If you haven't figured it out by now, Idzik's mantra is "competition." Being around Pete Carroll for three years in Seattle probably rubbed off on him. That's Carroll's deal -- competition -- dating to his days at USC. In fact, Carroll used to have "Competition Tuesday" at USC, an intense practice in which players battled for starting jobs. He also designed "ComPete" T-shirts. Can anybody come up with an Idzik slogan? A couple of thoughts: "Let's Get Id On." Or maybe: "Let's 'Zik 'Em." Hey, there's a reason why I'm not in advertising.
7. No line (additions) on the horizon: This point was overlooked in the quarterback hysteria from last weekend, but by picking DT Sheldon Richardson, OL Brian Winters and two other offensive linemen, Idzik basically secured the offensive and defensive lines for the foreseeable future -- assuming the selections pan out. When you add them to the likes of D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold and Muhammad Wilkerson, the Jets should be solid in the trenches, a big step toward achieving sustainable success.
7.a. New York, New York, New York: There's a lot of local flavor on the O-Line. Ferguson is a product of Freeport High School on Long Island, rookie Oday Aboushi from Xaverian High in Brooklyn and Willie Colon from Cardinal Hayes in the Bronx. Colon grew up in the Melrose projects on 156th Street in the South Bronx, and he still has family there. Aboushi now lives in Staten Island.
8. 'Q' is for question mark: The decision to move Quinton Coples to outside linebacker is a head scratcher. At 280 pounds, he'd be the biggest linebacker in the league, raising questions about his ability to play in space and drop into coverage. The only linebackers close in weight are the Chiefs' Tamba Hali (275 pounds) and the Ravens' Courtney Upshaw (272). Ryan may see visions of Adalius Thomas in Coples. Thomas, who played for Ryan in Baltimore, was an athletic, 270-pound defensive end in college. He moved to outside linebacker and enjoyed a long, productive career. Coples is a fine athlete for an interior lineman, but you wonder if he has the quick-twitch speed to thrive on the edge.
9. Bargain hunting: So far, Idzik has added eight veteran free agents -- Garrard, RB Chris Ivory, RB Mike Goodson, S Dawan Landry, LB Antwan Barnes, G Willie Colon, DT Antonio Garay and G Stephen Peterman. Combined cost in up-front bonuses: $5.2 million. It reminds me of Bill Parcells' approach in 1997, when he added a bunch of "hold-the-fort" guys, as he called them. Of the Idzik additions, only two can be considered players on the ascent -- Ivory and Goodson. That's why they received the biggest signing bonuses -- $2.25 million and $1 million, respectively.
10. Totally random thought: Smith will be the first "Geno" or "Eugene" to play quarterback in NFL history, according to ProFootballReference.com.