The Jets may have taken a hit last winter, but defensive coordinator Mike Pettine says the buzz has returned in a big way during OTAs.
“I think everybody at the end of last year was so beat up emotionally and physically that maybe it took us to take a step back in order to take three of four forward,” he said during “Deconstructing the Defense,” a video broadcast that can be seen on newyorkjets.com. “I can just tell you right now the atmosphere in Florham Park is light years away from where it was before.”
Pettine said new Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano has provided a jolt that has had an effect on both sides of the ball.
“Just from an excitement standpoint of how we are in our own room defensively and then what we see going on on the other side of the ball — just the attitude, the tempo in practice, them getting in and out of the huddle and the spirit over there,” he said. “You look at Tony and the rest of the offensive staff, at how hard they’re working their guys. It’s a no-nonsense group and they get after them pretty good and that’s exciting for our guys to see.
“They realize that we’re going to have to hold up our end of the bargain in practice or else we’re going to get embarrassed. It’s one thing that we have always prided ourselves on in practice that we were going to get after our offense, and our guys know that it’s going to be a little bit of a taller task this year.”
Welcoming a more hands-on approach from head coach Rex Ryan in the defensive meeting room, Pettine said it’s good for the players to hear a new voice echo familiar messages.
“The coaching points that he makes have already been made by the assistant coaches. It’s confirmation, here’s Rex coming in and confirming the points that have been made to those guys,” Pettine said. “It’s welcome and you can tell that he kind of has a new lease on life.”
In the hopes of making more contributions in 2012, both DT Kenrick Ellis and LB Bart Scott have transformed their bodies.
“There are two players who jump out to me already defensively. Kenrick Ellis is one. He’s dropped a bunch of weight and he’s just done a tremendous job in the offseason,” Pettine said. “He looks like a different guy running around out there. And then the other guy that’s hard to recognize is Bart. He’s dropped close to 20 pounds. He’s running around like a young Bart.”
The draft brought an infusion of speed and Pettine likes what he sees on the practice field.
“Quinton Coples is an explosive athlete. He has a tremendous get-off — he’s a guy that jumps off the tape when we’re watching the practice film,” he said. “The other guy, Demario Davis. is an explosive athlete. He’s the type of guy we needed to add, that type of linebacker who can cover a tight end but still can have linebacker-type responsibilities against the run. Aaron Maybin looks a step quicker.
And Ricky Sapp, said Pettine, is “a guy a lot of Jets fans don’t know about who came from Clemson and he had a knee injury late in his career. He spent most of last year rehabbing from it and he’s a guy who definitely has increased our team speed up front.”
The Jets have also altered their back end, acquiring safeties LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell in free agency to go along with incumbent Eric Smith. While Landry works on getting back to full speed, Bell has already impressed.
“He’s no-nonsense and he’s a leader,” Pettine said of the former Dolphin. “If a guy’s straying off the path that he should be on, you can tell that he’s not going to be afraid to point it out.
“We’re excited to have three not only just skilled athletically but three physically skilled from a hitting standpoint — I think our group of safeties will have the ability to intimidate a little bit. Eric Smith has had his share of highlight-reel hits over the years and Landry has certainly done the same as well as Yeremiah.
“Given our corners outside and having the ability to maybe get the ball funneled to the middle of the field, I think we’ll cause some issues around the league with receivers not necessarily wanting to catch the ball over the middle.”
Greene, Buttle Get Hall Nods
Two Jets with roots in the southern portion of the Garden State are among the seven players announced this morning as the new inductees into the South Jersey Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
RB Shonn Greene, who played his high school ball at Winslow Township, will be honored in the group’s Pro Active category, while Buttle, the former Jets LB and current Green & White commentator who graduated from Mainland HS, gets in as the Pro Inactive candidate.
The association’s Class of ’12 will be honored during an induction banquet on Wednesday, June 27, in Glassboro. For tickets and more information, call (856) 582-0212.
Tags: Bart Scott, Defense, Eric Smith, Kenrick Ellis, LaRon Landry, Mike Pettine, Yeremiah Bell
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