Jets Offense Trying to Get In Sync, Working Out Issues in Camp
Added by Justin O'Connell on August 7, 2012.
The Jets have seen mixed results from Tim Tebow (L.) but starting QB Mark Sanchez has excelled in training camp.
Drama is nothing new to the New York Jets during the Rex Ryan tenure, but this training camp has the most drama yet. Why the HBO show, “Hard Knocks”, did not decide to feature the Jets again is a mystery.
The media coverage the Jets have had this summer is something no team has ever experienced before. This has put more pressure than ever on the organization, but the majority of it has been focused on the offense and more specifically on the quarterback, Mark Sanchez.
The Jets scrutinized offense has had a lot of changes this off-season, the biggest being new offensive coordinator, Tony Sparano, who has incorporated a fast paced offense. Sparano’s new offense has benefited Sanchez and his development as a quarterback. Sanchez seems to take a liking to the hurry up offense and is picking up it up better than the rest of the QBs on the team.
Sanchez has impressed his coaches and teammates during training camp with both his play and his leadership abilities. Bringing in Tim Tebow might have actually forced Sanchez to play with some urgency.
There has been constant pressure on Sanchez from the defense, but he has still managed to stand tough and throw accurate passes under pressure; this is something he struggled with throughout his career.
Tebow has had a difficult time picking up the passing offense. Sparano has been forcing Tebow to take snaps under center almost every play in hopes to get him comfortable with it. Tebow has flourished when they put him in the shotgun, but the team knows that is where he feels most comfortable. His running ability has been evident during camp and he has even excelled in punt protection. Tebow is the perfect wild card and has been just that during this camp.
“I think he just adds an extra element for us. The defense has to worry about him and can’t just focus on the running game. He’s a very talented player, he can do a lot of things. Putting him on the field along with our other talented players, it’s going to give defenses a headache,” said running back Shonn Greene on how Tebow will help the team.
As for the third string quarterback battle; free agent rookie, Matt Simms, has shown he may have inherited some of his father’s talent because his play has been remarkable during camp. Ryan joked about which Simms was on the field, “Was it Matt Simms or Phil Simms? I don’t know, but he looked pretty darn impressive.”
He has clearly outplayed Greg McElroy and even Tebow when it comes to throwing the ball.
The receiving core is struggling during training camp and it is still not clear who the #2 receiver is; unless you talk to Antonio Cromartie, who has claimed he is the second best receiver on the team. The team has even come out and stated that they plan on using Cromartie as a receiver this season; this could be a good idea due to his athleticism and height.
Cromartie injured Santonio Holmes in practice on Saturday when he drilled him in the ribs. Holmes was having a tremendous camp before being hurt and was working hard to be a leader to the young receivers. He admitted he was the problem last season and was making a statement this camp by improving his attitude and demeanor.
Rookie Stephen Hill has disappeared in camp after having an impressive mini-camp. Hill has shown flashes of brilliance, though, including a 50-yard touchdown in which he beat Darrelle Revis. Second year player, Jeremy Kerley, is currently in Ryan’s “doghouse” and has not been able to work his way out of it due to injuries.
Both Patrick Turner and Chaz Schillins have made some big plays in practice, but have not been standout players or shown they can take control of the #2 spot. Turner did have a 31-yard touchdown on Cromartie, to which Cromartie said, “he (Turner) pushed off” and he then stated that he was still the “second best receiver on the team.”
The Jets passing game will have to rely heavily on their tight ends, which are going to have to be a safety cushion for Sanchez. Dustin Keller will be the number one tight end and is getting a lot of action in Sparano’s offense; he figures to be one of Sanchez’s main targets during the season.
“Dustin is one of those guys who is a special talent. He has always been there to make big plays for our team. He seems like one of those guys who finds a way to get open. He really studies hard, cares about this team and wants to show his very best on game days. He does a great job for us,” said Sanchez on his number one target from last season.
Jeff Cumberland and Josh Baker have both impressed the coaches with their play. Sparano has used a lot of three tight end sets or lined Baker up as a full back in order to have the three tight ends on the field as much as possible. Baker has turned into one of the coaches favorite weapons because he can line him up anywhere on the field.
The Jets ground and pound has been dismal thus far, the only big runs have been by Bilal Powell. To the surprise of the team, Powell has taken major strides since last season and is now competing with Joe McKnight for the backup running back job.
“I think the off-season program probably has something to do with it but, I’ll say this, what’s unique about it is, when we had to play him in a game, he had no mental mistakes, made absolutely zero mental mistakes. And that tells you a lot about him. So mentally, he was on top of it. From a physical standpoint, he wasn’t. He had a lot of injuries, little thing here, little thing there, that set him back. We never really got to see his capabilities. Now he’s healthy, he’s in great shape. He came in camp in great shape. And you see him, it seems like every day he does something that like, ‘Ooh that was a nice run’ or he does a good job in protection, which isn’t surprising. This is the guy that A. (Anthony) Lynn had told us about before that Mike Tannenbaum and our scouts felt really good about. That’s why we took him. And I think you’re really starting to see it. I’ve mentioned this before, when you look at his path in college, he kind of burst on the scene his last year. Kind of had some struggles or whatever and then burst on the scene. And I’m hoping that happens now. It takes a little growing pain, makes the adjustments necessary. And maybe its confidence or whatever, but right now, he seems to be playing with a great deal of confidence,” said Ryan on Powell’s confidence this season.
Shonn Greene has been far from impressive and cannot seem to get any momentum going. He is still going to be the starter going into the season, but will need to rebound from a thus far, poor training camp. McKnight has played admirably in practice, but is having trouble holding on to the football and that is a big problem. If he does not learn how to secure the ball he could lose his number two job and return to his third down back position.
Greene still feels the running game is growing and will be ready for the start of the season, “It’s a building process when you get into camp, in both the passing game and the running game. You’ve got to grow into it. You just have to keep practicing. It’s coming along, but we still have a ways to go.”
The biggest question mark on the Jets offense is their offensive line, where three starters are currently missing time. Nick Mangold is in England watching his sister perform at the Olympics, but will return to practice soon. Pretty much the whole line has obtained some type of injury during camp and has missed at least a couple practices; Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson are the only ones who have not missed time due to injury. The line has had a variety of different looks due to injuries and the effect of that has meant a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks.
Guard, Matt Slauson, said, “Well there are a lot of moving pieces on the O-line. A lot of different guys have to be ready to play. I’m not getting moved as much now (as I was) over the last couple days. I’ve just been at my spot, which has been great. But guys have to be ready to play at different spots all the time.”
The defense has had a frenzy on the o-line and made them look like a group of amateurs. The coaches feel that once the line is healthy and has some reps together they will be able to get back to where they were a couple years ago.
“I think we’ll know a lot more about our offense when we really start getting into the preseason games and things. I like the way we’re competing, and like I said, we did some good things when you talk about having three of your offensive linemen out. I still think the protection for the most part was good,” said Ryan.