By Tom Shane
OK, so today’s morning session was both boring in that the players were a little lethargic, but it was exciting because they were practicing alot of situational stuff with new wrinkles.
The stories of the day:
1. The QB’s were making it a point to go deep today. The last two days Schottenheimer has had the receivers running alot of combination patterns to get themselves open because, let’s face it, other than Jerricho and occasionally Stuckey, none of the guys on the roster are beating any quality CB’s one-on-one. Schottenheimer, as a result, is going to have to be creative in finding ways to free these guys up. In the WR on DB drills, the combo patterns really seem to work well in getting the ball in the hands of guys like Clowney, Brad Smith and Britt Davis. Those guys, in particular, really struggle to get open in man coverage–especially the physical man coverage of guys like Revis and Lowery.
That brings us to today, where it seemed like there was an edict to get the ball down the field, which plays to the strengths of Clowney and Smith, and helps to negate the physical press coverage of the Jet corners. Unfortunately, the receivers still didn’t get themselves open on the deep balls, either. Sanchez, taking snaps from the 20 and heading towards the end zone, fired his first two passes deep along the left sideline, but both passes were broken up on great plays by Dwight Lowery, who stripped the ball out of Britt Davis’ hands on the first one, and locked up Wallace Wright on the second. Erik Ainge was taking his shots deep as well, throwing into double and triple coverage at times and eventually getting picked by Drew Coleman.
The only QB who wasn’t forcing it deep was Kellen Clemens, who seemed to be on cruise control today, playing confidently and trying not to screw up whatever lead he has in the QB competition.
2. Sanchez Staring at Britt Davis: It seems as though Sanchez has found a favorite receiver while working with the back-ups, and that receiver is Britt Davis. Unfortunately, every DB knows that he loves throwing to Davis, too. Don’t get me wrong–it looks like Davis has some talent, and he has good size and some speed, but he, like most of the Jets receivers–needs a ton of work on reading the zone and shaking man coverage. Sanchez, in the latter stages of practice during 11 on 11’s, was taking the snap and absolutely dead-eye staring at Davis down the field. This helped Drew Coleman absolutely put the clamps on Davis today, easily covering him on three plays where Sanchez went to him, and almost coming away with two picks. Finally, Davis moved away from Coleman over to the other side (Sanchez’s right side), but it was a repeat of what previously happened, with Donald Strickland easily covering Davis down the field, forcing Sanchez to throw it deep out of bounds. You really wonder how much not having an established receiver to work with is hurting Sanchez’s confidence (he never, ever works with Cotchery), or if it’s just a case of Sanchez trying too hard to live up to his billing. Either way, he looks like he’s miles and miles away from contributing to the 2009 NY Jets offense. It’s Kellen Clemens in the driver’s seat right now, and Sanchez isn’t really giving him a fight right now.
A few notes:
a. The kickoff return team has some exciting personnel on it: The front line consists of Wallace Wright, Brandon Renkart, Larry Izzo, Marques Murrell and James Ihedigbo with Brad Smith behind them, and Jason Trusnik, Jim Leonhard, and Eric Smith further back. Leon, of course, is the returner. The one guy who sticks out like a sore thumb from that group of hard-hitting and athletic players is OL Robert Turner, who is lining up about ten yards in front of Leon and acts as Leon’s lead blocker. I was skeptical at first, figuring he’d just slow up Leon, but the guy is actually pretty nimble and is going to get some seriously crushing blocks on the little gunners running down from the other team. In short, this group looks nasty, and there will definitely be some highlight collisions to watch every game from this group.
b. It’s no secret that our ILB’s, outside of Bart Scott, are going to struggle in the passing game matching up against opposing RB’s in the open field. To that end, it looked like, the coaches had Ahmad “Batman” Carroll taking reps with the ILB’s on the coverage drills. It was weird seeing such a little guy mixing in with the big LB’s, but in the rep I witnessed, Carroll was absolutely pounding on Jehruu Caulcrick on a circle route. Batman is a smaller player, but he’s thick and physical, and could be a good match-up for us against the Kevin Faulk’s of the world. It wa only a short sample, but if this is a new role for one of the Jets more athletic players in Batman, kudos to the coahing staff for thinking outside the box.
c. Kellen Clemens couldn’t move the team against the Jets’ 7 DB quarter defense. It was Revis, Lowery, Sheppard, Rhodes, Eric Smith, Batman and Strickland on defense, and they absolutely blanketed the field againsts the pass, making life impossible for Clemens to get anything going. The coolest part of this defense was watching Eric Smith, who came up to the LOS and lined up at OLB next to Bart Scott. On one play, when there was nobody for him to cover, Smith actually got down in a three point stance and did a pretty repsectable job rushing the passer against massive Damien Woody. On the plays where Smith had to cover, he was picking up the back out of the backfield, or jamming the slot guy. Overall, this looks to be an exciting group as well.
d. Vernon Gholston showed up for work today and was pretty active this morning. When he’s allowed to get a head of steam up and rush from the edge, he can look really impressive and knock a tackle back with some force. It’s when they get Vern in a phone booth and he can’t run around people that he struggles to do anything and is quickly neutralized. On one play, he came off the corner and absolutely jacked up Stanley Daniels, knocking Daniels back, and then tackled the back. On the play before, he made a similar play on the other side, pushing a lineman around and taking the back down easily. But then, two plays later, he’s getting absolutely locked up by guys like Matt Slauson and Wayne Hunter. On the plus side, Bryan Thomas continues to be really physical and pretty animated (for him, anyway), and really seems to be relishing the chance to play under Pettine and Rex. When he comes off the edge, he does it waith authority and consistently pops whoever steps up to block him.
ST practice this afternoon, which is boring. I have talked to Max and told him I was thinking about hanging out here to catch tomorrow’s Green and White Scrimmage at 6 P.M. If anyone has anything they want me to look for specifically, give me a holler.
Join in on the discussion thread.