In London, they’re distributing gold, silver and bronze medals these days. In Cortland the currency is black jerseys.
And as TE Josh Baker said after today’s training camp practice, “We went ahead and broke through.”
Today was the first time the Jets practiced their full-contact goal-line/short-yardage drills. And with the offense pushing across five TDs in eight plays, that was enough for the O to take the prized black practice jerseys off the backs of the D for the first time this camp.
The story of the short but violent period at SUNY Cortland was the quarterbacks, as always. And Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow produced. On the first offense’s four plays against the first defense, Sanchez bootlegged one score in and Shonn Greene vaulted over from a yard out.
On the twos vs. twos, Tebow took over, with head coach Rex Ryan telling his defenders: “Tebow’s live unless he passes.” To which LB Bart Scott said from the side, “Can we have Sanchez live?”
Despite being eligible to be hit, Tebow was elusive as he booted the first play in, floated a TD pass to a wide-open Baker — “Sometimes those are the hardest ones when you can overthink them,” Baker said. Then TT called his own number out of the shotgun and a spread offense with an inside run for a standing TD.
“It looked great,” Sanchez said of the period. “I was excited about our tempo, about our power on the goal line, the way we punched the ball in the end zone. We got Tim involved there, which was huge, and that’s a big mismatch for us, so it was fun.”
The latest rephrasing of the eternal question was posed to Sanchez again: Would it really be OK if he led the offense down the field to the 5, then came out for Tebow to do the punching in? The Jets starter gave his strongest testimony yet that he’s on board, whatever the call.
“We’ve got to get it in. I don’t care,” Sanchez said. “Whatever we have to do, and Coach Sparano’s going to be the judge there on what exactly he wants, but if that’s what he wants and that’s what puts it in the end zone, fine. We’re driving 99 yards and he runs it in, don’t matter.”
“We’ve got to win the game,” No. 6 said. “It doesn’t matter. We’ve got to win. We’re in the business of winning.”
“I think that shows, number one, that he’s all in, he just wants to win,” Ryan said of Sanchez at his midday news conference. “It’s not about him, not about me, not about this guy or that guy — it’s about us. I think he understands that as well as anybody. He’s been absolutely terrific. It’s that team mindset we’re trying to develop.”
Ryan also liked what he saw from Tebow.
“This was Tim’s best day of camp,” the coach said. “That’s because we got to do a little live football. That’s when he’s going to stand out. You hear Tony [Sparano] say it all the time: ‘Run through the smoke.’ He ran through the smoke and there’s a 250-pound guy coming right at you. You saw what he can bring to the table today in the short-yardage/goal-line situation. When we’re doing more Wildcat situations, we’ll all be excited that Tim’s here.”
As for the black jerseys, Ryan said he told the players Wednesday that they were going to the offensive guys anyway, after the defense had won the right to wear the jerseys the first couple of days.
“I knew we’d get the best out of both sides,” he said. “I already said it, so shoot, they [the offense] were definitely going to wear ‘em.”
But Rex said, “Did they win it? Yeah, they earned it.”
Meeting of the Minds
Ryan was asked about what some players confirmed, which was that the coach called a team meeting Wednesday night to address some things. He might have touched on CB Antonio Cromartie saying he was the team’s second-best receiver, although Ryan didn’t seem to think that was a huge deal. But he had several other topics he wanted to remind his team about.
“I just took that time to say sometimes we need to mindful of what’s in the best interests of our team. That was the message, and there were others,” he said. “If I see an issue, I’m going to stay on top of it. … We’re going to be out in front of things, not behind things.”
He said he’s not “muzzling” his players, something that he has said he won’t do.
“If people want to paint the Jets as this rogue team, then that’s fine,” he said. “We want to win. We’re as competitive as any team in this league. Now do we want to have fun? Absolutely. Do I want our guys to be ourselves? I do. But I also understand there are some deals that can hurt our football team instead of help it.”
Ryan likes the way all his backs are running, but two he singled out today are starter Shonn Greene and second-year man Bilal Powell, who had another nice burst up the middle in team drills this morning. “Powell, he just looks like a different guy,” the coach said.
The defense, which did some grumbling over Rex’s scoring on the goal line, made up for it with some strong blitz pressure in team drills.
Sanchez was “sacked” on a Bart Scott blitz, but on the next play lasered a completion between defenders to WR Dexter Jackson. With the first D vs. the second O, Aaron Maybin flew off the edge for a Tebow sack, and then in twos vs. twos, rookie S Antonio Allen again flashed with a blitz sack of Tebow. With the threes on the field, Donnie Fletcher found an opening to “take down” Greg McElroy.
Then Sanchez, back in under center, got pressured by fourth CB Ellis Lankster and on a nice combo edge rush by David Harris and Maybin.
Today’s attendance: 2,769. Friday’s practice is closed to the public. Then Saturday night it’s wide open for fans to watch this year’s Green & White practice.
Tags: Aaron Maybin, Bilal Powell, Josh Baker, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan, Shonn Greene, SUNY Cortland, Tim Tebow, training camp
Posted in Randy Lange | 44 Comments »