Saturday AM Camp Report: 08/01

By Tom Shane

Overall, a very good-looking practice. Alot of promising stuff, and some stuff that should worry Jets fans.Camp–Rex has this thing running like clockwork, which I didn’t expect. Guys are moving at all times, the drills start and end on time, and there isn’t alot of screwing around. Mangini had this too, but for some reason it doesn’t seem as regimented, as militarized. The players look focused and hungry.

–Rex is a large man, and he runs the whole ship. I was worried that he was goingto come in here and not be prepared to lead the whole team, and instead hide out on the defensive side of the football all day, but he didn’t. He was very vocal and very active in many of the drills, both offensively and defensively, and it looks, so far, as though the players are responding really well for him. When he yelled at them to jump, they jumped, and when he told them to move their asses, they moved. You didn’t always see this with Mangini, and especially not with Herm.

–Cortland was the right choice for this type of thing. It’s a small school, but it’s known for its athletics and the facilities are relatively new. The stadium is big, and the sight-lines for the practices are great. MUCH better than the Giants have at Albany. Here, you can see every player and watch every drill if you wanted to without ever leaving your bleacher seat.

The Offense::

Summary: The offense is going to be rough to watch this year, no question. The receivers do not get open against even the Jets second string DB’s like Lowery and Drew Coleman, and this is really, really hurting the reads of both Clemens AND Sanchez, which has to be a concern.

Clemens v. Sanchez:: Neither really shined because of the problems the receivers have getting off the jam and getting open, and both are developing the habit of squeezing the ball too long. Clemens, in particular, holds the ball for an eternity, and Sanchez, though quicker, was starting to hold on to the ball, especially after he threw a brutal pick (a lazy pass 15 yards downfield near the left sideline that Eric Smith easily picked off).

Looking at Sanchez, he doesn’t have big-time zip on the ball, but it’s a pretty pass that is really accurate to the degree that he puts it on the receivers inside or outside shoulder consistently. He hasn’t ripped it yet, but the early returns aren’t awesome as far as arm strength goes. He looked better midway through the practice when he started letting it fly in position drills, but when they got to the 11 on 11’s, his passes were relatively easy prey for the D and after the pick to Smith, Sanchez stuck to trying to complete dump passes.

Clemens is Clemens, which means he looks really good at times, and then he’ll turn around and throw the worst pass you’ve ever seen. Jim Leonhard picked Clemens twice in the scrimmage, both fairly easy plays where Clemens threw it seemingly right to him in underneath coverage. But Clemens also threw some brilliant passes–one to Jerricho that Clemens placed beautifully into his hands over Kerry Rhodes, and another shot earlier to Leon Washington that was well-placed behind Revis, who was in Cover-Two.

In sum, the QB competition has a long way to go, but it looks like Clemens has a huge advantage over Sanchez. Sanchez, in the same scrimmage, looked bad and got, maybe, six plays to Clemens’ twenty. I am sure in the later practice that Sanchez will get more snaps to show his stuff, but the early (early, early) returns are that he needs a hell of alot of time and patience. Not having big-time receivers to throw to is clearly going to hurt his development, and it seemed to really shake his confidence today when no one could get open in live drills. I really think that the Jets should dump Erik AInge (horrible, btw), and go out and pick up a veteran QB who can teach both Sanchez and Clemens the nuances of the position, especially given the lack of talent around them. I fear a David Carr situation with Sanchez. I really do. WHen CLemens and Sanchez aren’t in the drill, they stand there talking to each other and, really, wouldn’t they be better served talking to a veteran QB who can tell them what they should be looking for the next time out?

Line play:: The O-line, as expected, looks to be in good shape. The right side was quiet, and held up well, as most of the blitzing packages seemed to be focused on coming off the left side. Brick still looks like he’s 285 pounds. I know the papers have been saying he “bulked up,” but it’s not at all obvious from a distance. Still, he held his ground well, and only Calvin Pace seemed to be able to push Brick around a little bit. Mangold and Faneca had all kinds of problems with Kris Jenkins, who was just a beast. Let’s hope this was just a case of Jenkins being too good, and not that the Jets interior line is too small. Overall, the line held up well against the pass rush, and struggled blocking the run, which is typical for the first few days of camp.

The big problem on the line is the TE play, as there are no real TE’s on the roster. Dustin Keller lines up on the end, but he looks like he’d rather be anywhere else than that, and it becomes truly scary when he gets buried at the bottom of the pile. If you lose him, you lose your second best receiver, and there is no third best receiver outside of Leon Washington. Tannenbaum HAS to bring in a legit blocker at TE, and he has to do it quick before Keller gets one of his backs killed with a matador block, or, worse, Keller gets his leg bent back under a pile at the LOS.

The receivers, as mentioned, are brutal beyond Jerricho and Keller, and this is SO serious because it’s going to screw Sanchez up until it’s rectified. NO ONE gets open, and the QB’s end up holding the ball. If they allowed sacks today, Clemens and Sanchez would be in an emergency room getting cleats pumped out of their stomachs. The team doesn’t have to go get an elite receiver, but they DO need a veteran who knows how to shake a DB. Watching Brad Smith, Clowney and ever Stuckey getting owned all over the place by Revis and Co., with minimal effort, was pathetic.

As far as backs, Leon caught a few passes, and Thomas Jones snaked through a few holes, but running the ball was a labor against the defense though it got easier when Kris Jenkins limped out with a calf. The hitting in the line was explosive, and it was inevitable that someone was going to get banged up. Shonn Greene showed nothing, and nearly got decapitated in a blocking drill when Bryan Thomas, running half-speed, buried him. It was ugly.

Defense::

Summary: Kris Jenkins, Bart Scott and Darrelle Revis are on another level, and everyone else is tagging along.

Along the defensive line, Jenkins was absolutely killing people until he went out with a calf injury. You could hear the pads exploding all the way up into the bleachers, and then all you saw was a mass of bodies lying in a pile three yards behind the line, with #77 being in the middle of it all. It’s just a freaky thing to watch him move people around. Mangold, in particular, got the worst of it. He is unblockable. He limped off, though, and he didn’t look awful. AT first we thought it was just a cramp–it deinitely didn’t appear to be the knee. When Jenkins goes out, though, there is nothing behind him. Pouha and Green are not capable, and the O-line just pushes everyone else around when they don’t have to worry about Jenkins. I know they’re impossible to find, but Tannenbaum really has to be on te lookout for some size in the middle to help out in the event that Jenkins has to sit out, because it’s bleak with what they have now. Sean Ellis made a few plays and was very active, as well.

At LB, Bart Scott is already the leader of this team. Great moment with Scott: they are having front-seven drills (O-line and backs vs. D-line and LB’s) and Shonn Greene squirts through a hole and stumbles, then gets back up and starts running as if he broke a tackle. Bart Scott, who had his helmet off and was just watching the play, pushes Greene in the chest and tells him (it looked like) to stop frontin’ and get back to the huddle. Greene slapped his hand away, but ran back to the huddle and wasn’t seen again the rest of the day. It is clear that Scott rules the roost on defense (thank God) and isn’t afraid to talk trash and bark orders. Scott got cooked solid by Dustin Keller on a few plays, though, and pass coverage will continue to be a major issue for the LB group. Already, the combination of Bart Scott and David Harris looks ferocious vs. the run on the interior.

Bryan Thomas looked aggressive, believe it or not, and hit people hard whether they had the ball or not. Hopefully, Scott’s influence will get to guys like Thomas and Gholston, who need a kick in the ass.

As for Gholston, he looks like he dropped 15 pounds in his lower body, and he looks more agile than he did last year. He still hangs his head too much and he still plays like he’s bored, but he showed a little more desire on the pass rush, and he actually got physical with Nick Mangold on one play, driving Nick back into the pocket on the blitz. It looks like Pettine is going to get creative with Gholston by having him circle inside and blitz up the middle and also lining up in the three-point stance. I think alot of Gholston’s problems start and end with the consistency of his effort, and it will be interesting to see how much rope Rex gives him in terms of playing time should Gholston not bring it on every play. He just seems too gifted to be doing so little on a football field, while Calvin Pace goes out there with half the athleticism and can be twice as effective at the same position.

The DB’s looked good today, with the exception being Rhodes getting turned around by Jerricho Cotchery on Clemens’ TD pass. Darrelle Revis is on another planet, and easily covered anyone they put in front of him. Lito Sheppard is an upgrade over what we had last year, but you have to worry about how he’ll hold up this season when he’s getting every ball thrown his way as teams try to avoid Revis. Lowery looks quicker this year, and he could be the nickel back when it’s all said and done. At safety, Eric Smith and Jim Leonhard were the stars today, with both of them getting picks (Leonhard got two), and both of them had a few deflections. Leonhard is the de-facto DB coach, and is always talking to Smith and Kerry Rhodes what’s going on with the D. I was interested to see what Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine did with Kerry, and if they really tried using him in the same way as they used Ed Reed but that didn’t seem to be the case. Kerry was doing what Kerry does best, which was to run downfield trying to pick off passes. He wasn’t used aggressively near the LOS, and he seemingly wasn’t used as a “robber,” coming up in the underneath zones trying to jump routes. Surprisingly, that was where Leonhard was playing on both of his picks.

Not to beat a dead horse, but the success of the DB’s has to be weighed against the competition they were facing. While Cotchery, Keller, and Leon all had nice catches for long gains today, no one else even showed up on the radar in live drills. Not having that big-time (or, medium-time) receiver here to balance the field not only hurts the QB’s, it may also be hurting the defensive preparation as well.

Not much on the specials today, with Jay Feely looking good and Leon returning some kicks. Revis took one kick back which made me ill as I flashed back to the injury (on a kick return) by the Giants’ Jason Sehorn that effectively ruined his career. Please, no more Revis on kick returns!

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