NY Jets mini camp is here and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich spoke to the media on Tuesday. He was asked about several players and gave these updates:
I got very high expectations. He’s a guy that last year at this time, as we all know, he was injured. He broke his foot and he delt with that for quite a bit. And, although he didn’t say anything to anyone, like if you were to ask him man to man. There’s something to be said about a guy that misses camp, misses the offseason. Not only was the scheme new and all that was new, but you’re still getting your feet underneath you, your legs underneath you. I feel like last year he was in a little bit of catch-up mode the entire season. So, for this year to have a full offseason of absolutely rolling I think he’s finding new levels of strain. I think he’s going places that he hasn’t gone to in the past, regarding the way he works on a daily basis. The sky is the absolute limit for this man. I can’t wait to see what he can do on Sundays.
I’m just getting to know him now as a person. You see a big, long athlete that can move – he’s got explosion, he’s got speed, he’s got bend – all the stuff that rushers need to have from a physical standpoint. Now it’s just learning his game. Learning the intricacies of the position, learning how to strain on a daily basis. Learning the grit that’s necessary to be successful on the line.
He doesn’t repeat errors. He’s a guy that is so hungry to learn. If he gets beat, most of the time he just figure it out on his own because he has such a good football brain, and a thirst for the game and a thirst to get better and learn and grow. But if he doesn’t figure it out, he’ll go immediately to TO (Tony Oden), to Marquand (Manuel), myself, whoever and figure it out. And it doesn’t show up again. He’s going to have his lumps and his rookie moments which they all do, but at the same time there’s not going be a lot of them. Probably less than most.
From a physical standpoint there’s really nothing different. I mean here’s this long, big, physical safety that’s just got range. He checks off all the physical boxes. Now for him, it’s about learning the position, he’s a long-time corner. Corners aren’t typically the greatest communicators. They haven’t had to learn the whole game, they’ve learned their side of the field, they’ve learned their techniques. So, a lot of the time when you get him back there it’s not only the technique, it’s the vision, it’s the communication. He’s a guy that’s getting better, and he’s getting more comfortable with the position. Still got a ways to go though.
(follow up) When you guys drafted him did you have a thought in your head that he might be able to be a safety one day or was it the injuries last year and things that happened, and his skill set. What made you make the conversion to Safety?
I think, going back to Coach Saleh’s time with San Francisco when they had Jimmy Ward, and in this defense, especially when you get into certain formations, we have safeties that have to cover in a man-to-man against a wide receiver. Jimmy Ward was that guy in San Francisco, a converted corner that went to safety and was able to assume that role at a high level. We are searching for that same guy. That’s why Lamarcus has so much value to us. Here’s a guy that’s played nickel, he’s played corner in some capacity, so he knows how to play man. We feel comfortable and he feels comfortable covering wide receivers in a man capacity. Now we’re trying to find another guy that can assume that same role. Pinnock is getting better. We are very excited about what he will be, but he’s still a young player and has a long way to go.
We are so fortunate to have gotten him. He is an amazing human being. Every day he does something that just lights me up again. Like damn, he can do that, he can do that, he can do that. I don’t know what his role was in Tampa regarding was he a leader or not, but he has absolutely assumed that role here with the fellas. They absolutely gravitate towards him, and they follow his lead and he does a great job of that. It’s just rare that you get a guy in free agency like that because typically when you check all the boxes physically, you check all the boxes from a character standpoint, teams don’t let you go. The fact that we were able to get him is huge.
The linebacker group; C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams. What about the rest of the room?
Jamien Sherwood is obviously a guy who couldn’t participate because of the Achilles, still coming back. Just knowing him, he is an absolute tireless worker, he is going to be ready when it’s time to go. Excited about him. Him and Hamsah (Nasirildeen) both, they’re converted safeties, so last year was trial by fire. It’s like new position, NFL, speed change, everything, new playbook. So, it was a lot thrown at those guys. So, for them to do as well as they did, it’s still a surprise. The fact that now they have, like I always believe your rookie season you’re drowning. Someone is just pushing their hand on your head, and you’re just trying to breathe and stay afloat and then you have those offseason where things start to slow down, that’s where the information starts to absorb. I think both of those guys are in that place now and they’re starting to get the position, so I’m excited about both of them taking a huge jump. I think Marcell (Harris), he brings an edge, a toughness, he’s got some, I can’t say the word I want to say. He’s got some of that, this is my job, but every once and awhile when I know, I go and I shoot my gun. It’s hard for some guys because guys are so conscientious to do right all the time. He is, too, not to say that he isn’t, but he also has that X-Factor that all playmakers have where he just shoots his gun sometimes. I think he shows the other guys there’s a place for that. Not all the time, but there is a place for that. So, he brings that, which I absolutely appreciate. It’s a really good group. Del’Shawn (Phillips) is a guy that you love because he can absolutely do right. If you put him out there, he will get every single human being on the same page. So, he brings a lot of value in that way. We get quality reps whenever he’s running it because you just know that he’s going to run it and he’s going to do right. So, it’s a young group, it’s an inexperienced group, but it’s a group we’re excited about.
If C.J. is out again, who is your MIKE linebacker?
I don’t know that yet, honestly. I don’t know that. I don’t know if that’s a combination of moving Quincy around, I don’t know if that’s Jamien, Hamsah, Del’Shawn, I think it’s way too early to tell. If I were to speculate, you’d think maybe Jamien just from the standpoint of he’s such a high-level communicator. We’re far from that, I think.