New York Jets: Bart Scott
The former New York Jets linebacker, whose signature moment with the team was his celebrated "Can't Wait!" rant after a playoff win in New England, has been hired as a studio analyst for CBS' pregame show, "The NFL Today," the network announced Monday.
Scott, who retired after the 2012 season, spent last season on CBS Sports Network's "The Other Pre-Game Show," so this was a natural progression. He'll join ex-Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason, Bill Cowher and newly hired Tony Gonzalez on the revamped team of analysts.
Scott is smart, opinionated and loves to yap, so he has all the qualifications for the job. He was an interesting guy to cover. He was entertaining, no doubt, filling our notebooks with terrific quotes, but there were times when he wasn't pleasant to be around. He was condescending to some reporters, combative at times. He was fined $10,000 by the team for flipping off a news photographer in the locker room, tried to organize an anti-media boycott among teammates (most of whom didn't listen) and nearly came to blows with a blogger.
After antagonizing the media at times, Scott is one of them. Ironic, huh?
Scott will do well in his new role because he's sharp and not afraid to ruffle feathers. One of his first assignments should be to interview Richard Sherman; that would be a classic. Scott was Sherman before Sherman, grabbing national headlines with his postgame diatribe after the Jets' win over the New England Patriots in the 2010 playoffs. The Jets haven't won a playoff game since then.
Sanchez has to go.
Bart Scott, another former teammate from the playoff years, said a Sanchez-Geno Smith competition (essentially, a repeat of 2013) would create problems in the locker room.
"Sanchez has to be the star because he's still in his prime," said Scott, who believes the Jets should pursue Matt Schaub, who could be released by the Houston Texans. "Schaub understands where he's at in his career. He's a gate keeper. Sanchez thinks he can play for another eight, nine years. That creates a tension."
Anthony Becht never played with Sanchez, but he follows the team closely and said, "It's time to move on. If somebody wants him in a trade, fine. If not, just cut him."
The Jets have to make a decision by March 25, when a $2 million roster bonus is due. Sanchez is signed for three more seasons, but his cap charge ($13.1 million) is prohibitive. Chances are, they will part ways with their former starter, who is recovering from shoulder surgery. They could try to trade him (that would mean renegotiating the contract) or, failing a trade, they can just release him to save $8.3 million against the cap.
"I can't imagine Mark Sanchez will be back with this team," said former NFL MVP Rich Gannon, who worked several Jets games for CBS. "A lot of players go through it. I had to go somewhere and get a new start. ... I don't think he'll want to come back and be a backup and I don't think you can run him out as a starter. I think his cap number will prevent him from being part of this team."
Former New York Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer said Smith "is just better than Sanchez. Throwing-wise, I think Geno has a bigger arm. Geno is a better decision-maker even though he has made some bad decisions. I just don't think you bring Mark Sanchez back. You move on. He had his time here. He had a lot of opportunity to play. If you think he's going to get better ... I don't."
Scott's heat-of-the-moment reaction, in an on-field interview with ESPN's Sal Paolantonio, is worthy of the trash-talking Hall of Fame. It's worth a replay:
Scott: "To all the non-believers! To all the non-believers, especially you, Tom Jackson. Way to have our back, Keyshawn [Johnson]. Anybody can be beat!"
Paolantonio: "So how did that just feel?"
Scott: "It felt great. Poetic justice. We know we were a much better team than we came up and represented ourselves [on Dec. 7, a 45-3 loss]. We were pissed off. We were ready to come back and show what type of defense, what type of team this was, what type of character we had. We take a lot of slack. People gave us no chance, like we barely made the playoffs. We're a good football team."
Paolantonio: "It looks like this team played with anger all day. Why, Bart?"
Scott: "For all you non-believers, disrespect us, talk crap about the defense. We're the third-best defense in the league. All we hear about is their defense [the Patriots]. They can't stop a nosebleed, 25th in the league and we're the ones that get disrespected."
Paolantonio: "Congratulations. See you in Pittsburgh."
Scott: "Can't wait!"
Times have changed. Once known for their loose lips, the Jets have toned it down, including the bombastic Rex Ryan. The culture is different because general manager John Idzik, hired last January, frowns upon trash talking. There's a sense of paranoia, as people in the organization -- players and non-players -- are afraid to speak their mind. They still have some in-game trash talkers, most notably guard Willie Colon, and they still have a few players that provide juicy quotes to the media (namely defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson), but it's not the way it used to be.
On a scale of red (not allowed), yellow (within reason) and green (go for it), Ryan's approach has changed from green to a red/yellow combo.
Bart Scott wants to see Richie Incognito get the boot out the door.
"I want to see [NFL commissioner] Roger Goodell step up and talking about player conduct and protecting the shield -- this guy needs to be out of this league," Scott said on the Stephen A. Smith & Ryan Ruocco show on ESPN 98.7 FM. "He needs to be gone. No one would miss him, anyway. Trust me."
The former Jets and Ravens linebacker lit into the Dolphins guard Monday for his alleged bullying of teammate Jonathan Martin. Incognito is currently indefinitely suspended by the Dolphins, while Martin is not with the team.
"It doesn't surprise me one bit. He's a fake tough guy. He's a guy that suffers from mood swings, if you know what I mean. That's something we've always known," said Scott, who competed against Incognito during his career. "One of the dirtiest players, if not the dirtiest player I've ever played against."
Scott, who once threw a punch at Incognito following a game and called him a coward, acknowledged there's rookie hazing and different ways players tease one another but couldn't believe the lengths Incognito went to in his alleged bullying.
The former linebacker said some people may look at Martin and wonder how he could be bullied at 6-foot-5, 312 pounds, but this shows anyone can be a victim. Fortunately, Scott continued, the situation didn't escalate.
"They better be lucky that this kid didn't reach one of the points that some of these other people get bullied and bring a gun to work and we have some type of tragic incident on our hands because he can't just take enough," Scott said. "Thank God that he just walked away."
Scott was highly critical of the Dolphins' front office and their locker room for not preventing it.
He said he was disturbed the veterans on the team, including center Mike Pouncey, didn't step up and put a stop to it. Scott added that the rest of the offensive line is just as guilty as Incognito if they let it go on, as is coach Joe Philbin if he knew about it. Scott had a hard time believing the team wasn't aware.
"There's no way somebody can be that uncomfortable and that bullied that you don't know when you spend that much time with him and there's that many eyes around him at the same time," he said.
While Scott was certainly disgusted with Incognito, he was previously involved in an act that some would consider bullying during Jets training camp in 2010. Scott was one of the ringleaders in strapping cornerback Brian Jackson to the goal post before showering him with Gatorade and Icy Hot. The moment was shown on HBO's "Hard Knocks" television show.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- They happened in a span of 52 seconds, three calamitous plays that changed the season and probably changed the franchise.
Boom! Boom!! Boom!!!
You've heard of the Minute Waltz? This was the Minute Faults, three mistakes that bordered on mind-boggling.
"Un-[bleeping]-believable," Jets coach Rex Ryan muttered on the sideline after the third touchdown, his reaction easy to decipher for a nation of television viewers.
The Jets and Patriots meet Thursday night for the first time since the Thanksgiving debacle and, even though the Jets refused to look back -- "It's very hazy," tackle Austin Howard said with a straight face -- it's impossible not to reflect on that ill-fated night. The Jets are who they are now, in part, because of what happened in those 52 seconds.
They actually went into the game with a 4-6 record, coming off a road victory, thinking they had a chance to get back into playoff contention. The 49-19 loss, which included the infamous Butt Fumble, made them a laughingstock. Owner Woody Johnson was disgusted by the performance, according to sources, some of whom believe he made up his mind that night to fire general manager Mike Tannenbaum and start a rebuilding process with a new front office.
"It was the beginning of difficult times," retired special-teams coach Mike Westhoff said Tuesday. "In reality, was it the beginning of the end? I'm not sure if I believe that. But in the big picture, yeah, it probably was."
It's probably an eerie coincidence, but three players directly involved in the three touchdowns are out of football. Linebacker Bart Scott and guard Brandon Moore are retired, and running back Joe McKnight is looking for a job after being released in training camp. A fourth, quarterback Mark Sanchez, is injured and could be finished with the Jets.
Scott was supposed to cover running back Shane Vereen on a wheel route, but he didn't get to his spot on time and Vereen took a short pass and went for an 83-yard touchdown. There was 9:43 left on the second-quarter clock.
It would be Scott's final game versus the Patriots, against whom he enjoyed perhaps the highlight of his career. After the Jets' stunning win over them in the 2010 playoffs, Scott delivered his famous "Can't Wait!" rant.
Forty-three seconds after Tom Brady-to-Vereen, Sanchez aborted a running play after turning the wrong way on the handoff. He tried to run, the right move, but he ran into Moore's backside, hitting it with such force that Sanchez lost the football. It took a fortuitous bounce for the Pats' Steve Gregory, who made the scoop and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown.
The Butt Fumble was born, becoming part of the sports lexicon.
"It wears thin," Westhoff said of the seemingly endless references to the Butt Fumble. "I don't want to hear about it anymore."
On the ensuing kickoff, McKnight, a home-run threat, was blasted by Devin McCourty. The ball came flying out and hung in the air, as if being held up by an invisible string. Julian Edelman grabbed it on the run and sprinted 22 yards for another touchdown.
Sanchez later referred to his fumble disaster as a "car crash," meaning the randomness of it. There were three car crashes in 52 seconds or, as Westhoff called them, "crazy negative plays." The probability of three fluke plays occurring in rapid-fire succession is incalculable. That each unit -- offense, defense, special teams -- was responsible for giving up a touchdown was fitting, because it was a true team meltdown.
This week, the Jets have made it a point to avoid any references to last Thanksgiving. But there's some relevancy because it's another short week. Obviously, they need to be better prepared, mentally and physical, than the last time.
"We don't even think about that one," wide receiver Stephen Hill said. "We haven't even talked about it. It hasn't been brought up at all. We're just ready for 2013 and ready to get it kicked off with the Patriots."
There are 57,600 seconds in a 16-game season. For the Jets, 52 seconds of epic failure will remain timeless.
Projected reserves: Antwan Barnes, Garrett McIntyre, Nick Bellore, Josh Mauga, Ricky Sapp.
New faces: Barnes.
The departed: Bart Scott, Bryan Thomas.
Player to watch: Coples. They're calling him a rush linebacker, although it remains to be seen just how much the former No. 1 pick is used as a linebacker. At 280 pounds, he could be the biggest linebacker in the league. Coples is a terrific athlete ... for an interior lineman. Put him in space and ask him to cover a tight end (yikes!), and you're talking about a different deal. Coples likes the position change because he believes it'll give him more pass-rushing opportunities. However, smart opponents will try to take him out of his comfort zone. Gut feeling: The whole linebacker thing fizzles and he winds up playing in a three-point stance.
Potential strength: There's more speed and athleticism than last year. Then again, a glacier moved faster than last season's linebacking corps. Davis, in particular, should be a help. He replaces Scott at the "Will" spot and will help the pass coverage and perimeter run defense. In other words, he can run. The question is, how will he defend the run? Davis played in 308 defensive snaps last season, mostly in nickel situations. The Jets need a bounce-back year from Harris, who didn't make many impact plays for someone who played in 100 percent of the defensive snaps (1,062).
Potential weakness: Same old story -- still no speed rusher on the edge. They tried to address the issue by signing Barnes, a fabulous situational rusher (11 sacks) for the Chargers in 2011. But don't expect him to be the savior. In his six other seasons, he never registered more than 4.5 sacks, suggesting he was a one-hit wonder in '11. Coples could help the cause, but he might be better suited to the interior. Pace? Statistically, he was one of the least efficient pass rushers in the league -- only three sacks in 353 pass-rushing chances, according to Pro Football Focus.
Wild card: Barnes. It's a bit much to expect another 11-sack year, but if he can be in the six-to-eight range, it'll give the defense a legitimate threat on the outside. Barnes already knows Ryan's scheme (he played under him in '07 and '08 with the Ravens), so there should be no adjustment period.
Linebacker Bryan Thomas also did not appear to be practicing and was not on the injury report issued before practice.
Players who were on the injury report and appeared to practicing were guard Brandon Moore (hip), center Nick Mangold (ankle), safety Eric Smith (knee), running back Bilal Powell (shoulder), tight end Jeff Cumberland (wrist) and defensive tackle Sione Po'uha (low back).
The Jets also appeared to be changing up their practice format a bit, as they were doing one-on-one drills during the portion open to the media, which is usually something that isn't done during the early portion of practice.
As expected, Scott was declared inactive for Sunday's game against the Dolphins, ending his streak of consecutive games played at 119. It was the fifth-longest streak for active linebackers. Scott, battling a painful toe injury for the past five weeks, hopes to return Nov. 11 against the Seahawks.
Rookie DeMario Davis, who played most of the snaps last week against the Patriots, will start for Scott.
Also inactive for the Jets are TE Jeff Cumberland, S Eric Smith, RB Bilal Powell, DT Damon Harrison, DT Kenrick Ellis and QB Greg McElroy.
TE Hayden Smith, signed Saturday from the practice squad, is active for the game. He's a 27-year-old rookie who played sparingly in the preseason.
NT Sione Pouha returns from a three-week back injury and will start. WR Clyde Gates, out two games with a shoulder injury, returns. He will replace Jason Hill (waived) as the No. 4 receiver. As expected, RB/KR Joe McKnight (sprained ankle) is active. McKnight didn't practice all week but vowed to play.
1. No expiration date for hot sauce: Reggie Bush never should've suggested that Darrelle Revis deserved to get hurt -- not cool -- but he had a right to be upset by Rex Ryan's "hot sauce" remark from Week 3. Consider the history: In a Saints-Ravens game in 2006, Bush was forced out when LB Bart Scott "twisted" his ankle late in the fourth quarter, according to an account in the Baltimore Sun.
Ryan was the Ravens' defensive coordinator at the time. So when Bush hurt his knee in Week 3, what was he supposed to think? Sunday's game will be super intense, and you can bet the NFL will be paying close attention. This week, Scott fessed up to the '06 incident. Too bad he won't play; he's out with a toe injury.
2. Diversionary tactic: When the Jets were routed by the Patriots in 2010, Ryan buried the ball in the practice field -- an old high-school trick. This time, he buried the story. How's that? Some folks around the league believe he encouraged the week of trash talking to shift the focus away from last week's Patriots debacle and the unflattering storylines that emerged from the game -- questionable play calling, the blown lead by the defense, Sanchez/Tebow, etc. Those stories still garnered attention, but they became sidebars to the war of words. Maybe old Rex planned it that way. Clearly, he said something to his players behind closed doors that set them off.
3. Tony and Tim: This is for the folks who think Mark Sanchez is one bad performance away from getting replaced by Tim Tebow: It ain't happening. Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano might think Tebow can be effective in the Wildcat (although we've yet to to see it), but he obviously doesn't believe in his quarterbacking abilities -- only two pass attempts. Here's further proof: Sparano coached Tebow at the 2010 Senior Bowl and, according to a league source, he was -- shall we say -- less than complimentary when discussing Tebow's passing skills with members of his Dolphins coaching staff.
4. Herm warfare: Believe it or not, this week is the 10-year anniversary of Herm Edwards' famous "You play to win the game!" speech. I was there for that memorable news conference. The Jets were 2-5, preparing for a tough road game against the Chargers. Things were bleak. Judy Battista of the New York Times asked Edwards if he was worried about players giving up on the season, and that sparked one of the great diatribes of all time. Funny thing is, I don't recall it being a big story in the newspapers. TV made it a big story, and now it's legendary. Hey, made for a good beer commercial, right?
5. JK rolling: Perhaps the biggest positive in the Jets' season has been the emergence of WR Jeremy Kerley. GM Mike Tannenbaum picked him by trading up in the fifth round of the 2011 draft, in large part, because of Kerley's punt-returning ability. He's so much more than a punt returner. Before the draft, then-OC Brian Schottenheimer worked out Kerley and his TCU teammate, QB Andy Dalton. Kerley said he didn't drop a ball in the workout. "I guess I caught their eye," he said.
Kerley is only 5-foot-9, 188 pounds, but he has what Tannenbaum calls "balance on contact. His lower-body strength is impressive. He doesn't go down easily." That explains why Kerley is averaging 4.9 yards after catch, according to ESPN Stats & Information, which happens to be almost a full yard better than the Giants' Victor Cruz.
6. Trader Mike: The trading deadline is Tuesday. No, the Jets won't trade Tebow, but they should definitely explore the possibility of dealing for Rams RB Steven Jackson. The Rams are shopping him, according to a league source. Considering the health of the backfield, the Jets should make a deal if they can get him for a late-round pick. Jackson will be a free agent, so no team will give up the store. His running style is similar to that of Shonn Greene (also a free agent), except that Jackson is, well, better.
7. Cam jam: How bad is it for Panther QB Cam Newton? He's struggling to complete short passes at the goal line. He has just as many completions (two) as interceptions in goal-to-go situations, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He's 2-for-12 and he got his GM, Marty Hurney, fired.
8. Eli-Ben revisited: The Giants play the Steelers next week, and the Eli Manning/Ben Roethlisberger/Class of 2004 stories already are starting. Here's my succinct analysis: Manning has won two Super Bowls, Roethlisberger has won two Super Bowls. Both teams done good.
9. Paging Rob Lowe: The Broncos are the league's best team in the fourth quarter, having outscored their opponents, 79-6. Gee, I wonder why that is. The quarterback, perhaps?
10. Patriots woes: The Belichicks are racking up big numbers on offense; imagine what the numbers would look like if they actually held on to the ball. The Patriots have a league-high 18 drops, according to ESPN Stats. No, snickering, Jets fans. The Jets are close behind with 15 drops.
The linebacker has been struggling with a toe injury since Week 3, and will likely miss the game, ending a 119-game playing streak.
Also missing from practice was OT Jason Smith. He has not been one of the chronically injured Jets players, so we are awaiting an explanation on that one from the Jets.
DT Kenrick Ellis (knee), LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring) and RB Joe McKnight (ankle), who have not participated in practice this week, were working out with trainers on the sideline. RB Bilal Powell (shoulder) appeared to be working with the running backs during the brief time that media members were allowed to watch.
Rex Ryan will speak later, to offer more concrete answers on who may or may not play on Sunday, and Tim Tebow is slated to talk as well. No doubt he will be asked what it’s like to be voted the most overrated player in the NFL.
Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara is lucky he doesn’t have Jets linebacker Bart Scott as a teammate.
Asked about the the hazing incident gone viral in which Amukamara got thrown into a pool full of ice water by defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, Scott scoffed to ESPN New York 98.7’s Stephen A. Smith on Tuesday, “I mean, I heard about it, but come on man, at the end of the day, Amukamara is still a rookie after (seven) games. This morning he should've brought the doughnuts. Come on, man.”
Scott was more upset that the incident ended up on the Internet as a result of a tweet from punter Steve Weatherford.
“Come on, he's a rookie. He is going to get hazed. ... Steve’s my boy, but there's no reason that that should ever be aired. That's in the room, locker room stuff,” Scott said.
“Stuff (like) that goes on within the sport. Certain things other people can't understand. You can't try to explain it because you just sound stupid trying to explain it. What I am saying is that's football stuff. It happens all over. We cut a B-plus in a dude's head because he said he graded out as a B-plus. We thought he was retarded if he thought he was performing at a B-plus. He said he should be with the 1’s. He was a rookie, so we took some clippers and we cut a B-plus in his head and made him wear it.”
It was a poor decision, Scott said, because it takes the Giants away from their focus.
But that doesn’t mean the hazing should stop.
“Steve’s my man, but I’m sure he wishes he could have that back, because that team is dealing with some distractions they ... shouldn’t even have to deal with because that’s in-house stuff,” Scott said. “That should’ve been something guys should be laughing in the locker room the next day. There’s plenty of rookies that have been baptized. I’ve hog-tied guys, there’s guys that have been hung upside down from goal posts. That’s just part of football.”
The charismatic linebacker's mouth was running 100 miles per hour during New York Jets practice this past weekend. Scott got on the Jets' quarterbacks, Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez. Scott got on Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. Scott got under the skin of the offensive linemen.
No one was immune in training camp -- and Jets coach Rex Ryan likes it that way.
"The funny thing is when you talk like that, it puts pressure on you to play well," Ryan said. "You can tell that Bart feels great about himself, and he feels great about this team. That is why he is the way he is right now. He is all over everybody -- offense, defense, especially offense."
The Jets were humbled by last season's 8-8 record and late-season implosion. But if Scott's mouth is any indication, it appears this team is getting its swagger back.
There have been no Super Bowl predictions and no preseason talk of supplanting the New England Patriots in the AFC East this season. But watching the Jets practice, you sense this team has an edge to it. Sometimes that edginess goes overboard and leads to fighting among the players, which explains the 20-player scuffle the Jets had Monday and a second fight Tuesday.
The Jets undoubtedly will do damage this year. The question is, will they do more damage to themselves or their opponents? They first must prove that this group is bonding and will no longer be "team turmoil" in 2012.
THREE HOT ISSUES
1. Can the Jets handle the Sanchez-Tebow dynamic? Even U.S. President Barack Obama has his concerns about the Jets’ two-headed monster at quarterback. Obama said he doesn’t think Tebow’s immense presence will be good for Sanchez. The Jets, however, say they're unfazed by Obama’s comments.
“He doesn’t play football for the Jets,” guard Matt Slauson said.
It appears Sanchez and Tebow get along fairly well. But things could become tense if Sanchez struggles early in the regular season.
2. Is chemistry still an issue? The Jets didn’t miss the playoffs last year because they lacked talent. They missed the postseason for the first time under Ryan because they lacked togetherness and chemistry.
Things fell apart for the Jets in the locker room, and it showed on the field. Too often players weren’t on the same page, and Ryan admittedly dropped the ball in fixing those issues. It’s Ryan’s job to make sure those things no longer happen. But there already are ominous signs that the locker room could be combustible again in 2012. In addition to the reported scuffles, cornerback Antonio Cromartie created tension by claiming to be the second-best receiver on the team. These things add up. The Jets need to end the in-house silliness now before it shows up in the regular season.
Sanchez, a team leader, wasn’t particularly happy about the brawl that went down.
“At this point in camp, especially after the scrimmage, tempers flare,” Sanchez said. “That stuff happens; there’s no excuse for it. There’s no throwing the ball at a teammate. There’s no shoving the guy out of bounds into the signs. One, it doesn’t look good, and two, it sends the wrong message to our team. We want to take care of our guys.”
3. Who is the No. 2 receiver? Cromartie apparently thinks he's it. But despite his controversial comments, the Jets have to find other players to step into that role full time. Players such as Patrick Turner, Chaz Schilens, Jeremy Kerley and rookie Stephen Hill are all competing for the role to start opposite Santonio Holmes.
The Jets will rely more on the run than the passing game, but they must make the most of passing opportunities. Holmes' rib injury will allow other receivers to get more reps. This is a golden opportunity for someone to emerge and provide another target for Sanchez.
Hill appears to have the best chance to fill this role long term. But it may take an experienced player such as Turner or Schilens to step up until Hill acclimates to the NFL.
As noted earlier, New York’s defense looks tremendous. The Jets were the most impressive defense of all the AFC East training camps we’ve visited in the past two weeks. The front seven is allowing few rushing lanes, and the cornerbacks are covering well, as expected.
“I feel great about the defense,” Ryan said.
It’s easy to forget that New York had a top-five NFL defense last year because the Jets didn’t play that way at times. But this defense thinks it can rank No. 1 in 2012. Based on what we’ve seen, that goal is not out of reach. New York’s defense doesn’t have many holes.
REASON FOR PESSIMISM
The Jets' passing game appears shaky, which could be a major issue for the team this season.
New York wants to ground-and-pound its way to victories. But the NFL is a passing league, and winning by running the ball 40 times is becoming increasingly more difficult. The Jets at some point will have to air it out if they want to score enough to win consistently. The defense is great. But New York can’t win every game 13-10 or 17-14. That puts too much pressure on one side of the ball, and the offense not holding up its end of the bargain is one issue that caused chemistry issues last year.
What if teams stack the box against tailback Shonn Greene and Tebow and the Wildcat? Can Sanchez make enough big throws to keep defenses honest? The Jets were 2-5 last year when Sanchez threw the football 35 or more times. Expect opposing defensive coordinators to keep that stat in mind when preparing for the Jets this year.
Sparano wants to play conservatively and win on the ground first. But defenses won’t make it easy. At some point this year, Sanchez and his receivers will be forced to win games, and this team might not have enough quality personnel to pass the football consistently.
- Tebow admittedly never played special teams. But the backup quarterback and former Heisman Trophy winner looks like a natural in the third phase of the game. Tebow will serve as the punt protector, which gives the Jets options on fakes, as Tebow could run or pass on fourth down. Tebow also has been getting work on the kickoff team, and he looks good moving downfield and tracking the ball carrier.
- New York’s starting offensive line and backups appeared to have been pushed around too often during our camp visit. That should be a concern for Jets fans. New York wants to establish a physical identity on offense, but the line has been unable to establish many running lanes against its defense. Granted, most defenses aren’t as good as New York’s. Preseason games will provide a better indication of where the offensive line stands.
- Hill needs to work on his consistency. There are days in practice when he is a nonfactor and others when he shows why he's a highly touted second-round pick. Hill beat Cromartie and Darrelle Revis on a pair of deep balls in practice in recent days. Yet Hill disappeared in Saturday's teamwide scrimmage. Hill has the physical tools; he just needs to sharpen his routes and bring strong effort consistently. “The route running is still coming. I’m not even going to say I’m perfect on it,” Hill said. “I’m still working and still learning on it. Revis and Cromartie are actually helping me on it, because they’re noticing I do certain things [to tip them off].”
- One of the most impressive players during our visit to training camp was defensive end Aaron Maybin. The former first-round pick of the Buffalo Bills has really come into his own with the Jets. Last year, he recorded a career-high six sacks, and he looks even better in his second year in the system. Maybin says the “mayhem” is back, and it has looked that way in training camp. He had a sack and quarterback pressure in Saturday’s scrimmage.
- It's difficult to get a feel for new Jets safety LaRon Landry. His action in camp remains limited because of last year’s Achilles injury that was never surgically repaired. Landry practices with the team about once every three days to stay fresh. He played in Saturday’s scrimmage but wasn’t tested much. The Jets have high expectations for Landry, so we're curious to see how well he moves in exhibition games.
- Free-agent signing Yeremiah Bell is bringing exactly what the Jets expected at safety. He’s made some big hits and solid plays against the run, but he hasn’t been great in coverage. The combination of Bell and Landry on the back end means the Jets must do a lot of scheming to protect their safeties. That involves a lot of blitzing to get to the quarterback and playing Bell or Landry in the box.
- The backup running back situation is interesting. Joe McKnight entered camp as the favorite because of his athleticism and experience. But relative unknown Bilal Powell has been outperforming McKnight. Powell has been more consistent, and McKnight still has a penchant for fumbling.
Bart Scott is against the elimination of two-a-days in training camp, according to an interview he did with Jenny Vrentas of the Star-Ledger. The Jets linebacker does a lot of tough talking, and coupled with that kind of rhetoric during the regular season, you might get the impression that Scott just likes violence.
“I get concerned you're making football players weaker because you don’t push them past that threshold,” Scott said. “... I get concerned with the same thing with the quarterback stuff, that they turn it into flag football; they turn it into little pansy stuff."
Aside from debating whether it’s still OK to use the word “pansy” outside of the Home & Gardening Network, Scott is still talking about full-contact drills in the context of training camp, where players are observed, protected and under the care of team physicians and trainers.
Yesterday after a Rutgers workout, Jets linebacker Jamaal Westerman said that Scott had been one of the most conservative players when it came to contact during the Jets informal workouts in New Jersey a few weeks ago.
“I was talking to Bart and he was like, ‘Make sure you don’t hit anybody,’” Westerman said. “Cause like anything else, no one is under contract so you don’t want to get anybody hurt. There’s no pads, no equipment, of course you get your reads of course you try to get the movement down, but at the end you always pull up and let the offense make the catch.”
So yes, Scott is an advocate of smash-mouth football, but he is also an aware of the time and the place. That place is training camp, but not an unsupervised workout without contracts or a safety net in place.
When Henry Washington was the acting athletic director at Detroit’s Southeastern High School of Technology, he and his student aide used to pass the time by talking about what, given unlimited resources, they would do to improve the school.
That teenager, Bart Scott, wasn’t a sure thing to make it in the NFL. He was an undrafted free agent when he joined the league, but Washington said there was something about him even back then.
“He was a superstar person,” said Washington, now the full-time AD. “So you knew something he was going to do was going to be special.”
The Jets linebacker will have the field at Southeastern named after him this Saturday the school’s annual picnic. The ceremony will take place on school grounds, across Fairview St. from the new Bart Scott Field.
His mother Dorita Adams, who also graduated from the school, will be there as well. She can remember wearing Scott’s letterman jacket to games when he returned to visit, and always being called Mrs. Scott by players and students.
In any other year, Scott might not be able to attend, but Adams said the timing is right.
“The lockout worked in his favor this year,” she said.
Scott has remained close to officials at the school. Last year when someone sawed off the aluminum bleachers at the school and trashed the press box, Scott was there. He paid to replace them with wooden bleachers painted silver, so they couldn’t be sold for scrap metal. He had the panes of glass replaced in the press box, the electrical wiring reinstalled and the drywall redone.
The project was completed just before the team’s homecoming game — the only home game of the season because of the vandals. Scott even paid for the DJ and decorations at the dance afterwards.
“He wanted to show the kids there is someone who cares,” Adams said.
And now the school will return some of the love. Adams said Scott didn’t just play football at Southeastern, but was also on the basketball team, ran track and competed in the shotput, even volleyball. Adams said in junior high, Scott would head to Detroit’s 5th precinct to take part in a program for kids who wanted to find out about a career in law enforcement.
There are pictures of Scott on the walls of his old school now. One in his Ravens uniform and another as a Jet. Washington said the students today are very aware of his contributions.
“It really helps out that he was a freshman football player,” Washington said, “and it helps out that he’s from the neighborhood.”
It makes Washington laugh that Scott used to talk in his office about improving the football program, about having a real field.
“He’s a dream maker, and we want to make his dreams come true,” Washington said.
There should be some interesting behind-the-scenes stuff from the final weekend of the Revis saga, from the ballyhooed trip to Florida to the final minutes of the negotiation, with Rex Ryan screaming into a speaker phone at Revis' agents. Sources say there were cameras in Florida for Ryan and Woody Johnson's Revis recruiting trip, but I'm told there were no cameras in the actual meeting, which took place in a conference room at a private airport in Fort Lauderdale.
Looking back at the first four episodes, here is the ESPNNewYork.com top eight moments:
8. Mark Sanchez is being lectured in a meeting room by QB coach Matt Cavanaugh, but the young quarterback seemingly ignores him, fiddling with his backpack and refusing to make eye contact. This scene casts Sanchez in a negative light, showing signs of immaturity.
7. Leave it to Bart Scott to deliver two of the best one-liners. Watching a professional magician during the annual rookie show, Scott cracks, "Make Revis show up. That'll be a hell of a trick." Discussing the moody and inconsistent rookie Joe McKnight with some coaches, Scott says, "He's just mad because he had to take a pay cut" -- a reference to McKnight's scandal-plagued alma mater, USC.
6. As predicted by many, special teams coach Mike Westhoff emerges as one of the stars, providing plenty of laughs with his salty language (understatement) and quick sense of humor. In one practice, he's so frustrated with rookie Brashton Satele that he yells out, "Let him open up his freakin' pizza shop in the Bronx and leave me alone." Great line.
5. After a practice in Cortland, the defensive players tie rookie Brian Jackson to a goal post and douse him with ice, Gatorade, baby powder and Icy Hot -- an example of rookie hazing. It's supposed to be in good fun, a rite of passage, but it's uncomfortable to watch on some levels.
4. The cheeseburger speech. On the eve of the third preseason game, an irate Ryan rips into his team for eating McDonald's burgers during a pre-practice stretch (it was the defensive backs). He also questions the team's commitment to winning a Super Bowl. He ends the speech by barking, "Now let's go get a God damn snack." Classic.
3. GM Mike Tannenbaum, leaving a secret meeting with Revis' agents at a remote diner in Roscoe, N.Y., tells assistant Ari Nissim in the car, "We're so freakin' far apart that I feel like a failure." Little did we know, but it was actually the first of two visits to the Roscoe Diner.
2. Ryan, in the first episode, drops 10 F-bombs at various points in the show. It sparks a national controversy on profanity. Later, Ryan admitted he was admonished by his mother. Former coach Tony Dungy chimed in, criticizing Ryan's foul mouth on an ESPN radio show -- prompting a sharply worded response from Ryan.
1. Antonio Cromartie, speaking to the camera, lists the names of his eight children -- and he doesn't make it look easy. He hesitates slightly between some of the names, giving the perception he has so many kids (from six different women) that he can't keep track. Later, Cromartie told the New York Post that the producers set him up, telling him to do the scene that way in a re-take. The producers refuted Cromartie, saying it was shot in one take.