Neil's NFL Daily: August 1, 2013
Wednesday, July 31 – Jets Camp (Cortland)
Thankfully, this year, Cortland had more the air of an NFL training camp than a circus. Rex Ryan still managed a very small mention of Tim Tebow in his press conference (in relation to why they didn’t run the read option/Wildcat much last year) but it was more overall scheme related and went completely unremarked (probably until now).
More than most camps, the play was intense and hard-hitting (if not always precise) and there was plenty of friction between the offense and defense with a fight breaking out during the one-on-one pass protection drills. After a particular drill the two combatants involved went after each other to be joined within seconds by every other member of the offensive and defensive lines. It didn’t seem like the coaches were doing a lot to break it up and, after things calmed down, their broad smiles suggested they were anything but disturbed by the fracas.
The serious side, though, is the position battles and none is more important to the Jets’ organization than the one at quarterback.
Smith Building an Edge?
Let me be clear, this really isn’t like the practice I saw at Bills camp on Tuesday where rookie, E.J. Manuel looked significantly better than veteran, Kevin Kolb. Although I’d rate Geno Smith’s performance marginally better than that of Mark Sanchez, Sanchez wasn’t horrible; some of his deeper passes were well positioned and fell just fractionally out of the reach of his receivers. The bottom line is, though, they were still incomplete.
It’s an interesting position, no quarterback since we’ve been grading has played so poorly for so long. For Jets fans wanting a change that’s a double-edged sword; the leash on him can’t possibly get much longer but that he’s survived in the face of such ineptitude is testament to the faith Rex Ryan has in him.
It’s not that Sanchez can’t play well on occasion; we graded four of his games “in the green” last year but it just doesn’t compensate for the eight “red” games including the awful performances at home to Miami (-6.1) or at Tennessee (-6.9)
In most organizations it would be a shoe-in that Smith would be given the helm, but Ryan loves Sanchez and that makes things more interesting.
[NB: The Jets spent an inordinate amount of time practicing Wildcat, Read-Option and unbalanced line plays – I literally saw more of those here in 10 minutes than in all the other camps I’ve been to combined]
I was mildly surprised to see Willie Colon playing right guard yesterday and Brian Winters left; with Stephen Peterman on the side-lines because of “a little bit of a shoulder issue” I was expecting those two but not in that configuration.
Surprise was something of an understatement, though, when in Ryan’s press conference he said that he was rotating all three players at both positions as he wanted them to learn the two spots. Given the issues most linemen have with changing sides it seemed a strange decision particularly given the two veterans have other issues they need to address.
Willie Colon is still learning the guard position with only 700 snaps experience at the position gained last year in Pittsburgh. Although the transition went well for the most part, with his work as a run blocker sometimes hitting the “dominant” category, he had real problems with penalties. He drew 12 flags in what was three quarters of a season with seven holds the key concern.
Peterman didn’t have problems with penalties (giving up only four) but, unlike his other colleagues on the Lions’ O-line, he struggled in pass protection. No guard gave up more pressure than the 46 QB disruptions he allowed. Of those 20 came on his inside shoulder with another eight by bullrush. He’s a decent enough pass protector but will all the switching around really help his game?
– In one-on-one drills, Muhammad Wilkerson strutted his stuff. To the chants of other offensive linemen encouraging “their man”, after an initial false start, Wilkerson beat William Campbell first to the inside and then to the outside. Talking with him after the game he seems determined to push his game up another level – my words not his, but can he be this year’s J.J. Watt?
– Chris Ivory didn’t practice yesterday because of a hamstring. Bilal Powell was next man up but 2012 free agent John Griffin got a lot of work.
– Strange as it may seem, there’s a legitimate chance Kellen Winslow could start. He’s only playing every other day, but he looked fluid when in route. As we know blocking is not his forte so my money is still Jeff Cumberland, who — not great in the running game — is made to look like Jim Kleinsasser by Winslow.
– I haven’t been able to entirely confirm this (those jets fans with more knowledge please let me know below) but it felt yesterday as if Dawan Landry was playing free safety with Antonio Allen the strong. Jaiquawn Jarrett, who was the dime safety yesterday, is apparently pushing him for the starting job.
– With Dee Milliner limited, Darrin Walls was the Nickel corner.
NB: I’ve amended the Jets depth chart accordingly, added in the position battles in purple and the update is below:
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