Last week HBO introduced up to the 2010 New York Jets and their profoundly profane head coach Rex Ryan. In the wake of his f-bomb filled television debut, former NFL head coach Tony Dungy was critical of the salty language Rex used. Rex says Dungy unfairly judged him. Whatever, all I know is television is better off with Rex Ryan than Dungy, so Rex wins this round in my humble opinion. This week we get to see him on the sidelines during their first pre season game as they break in their brand new stadium against their roommates, the New York Giants. A video of the demolition of Giants Stadium is shown. A lot of history took place in that building, and not just in the NFL. It’s where Pele played his final game. Bruce Springstein played six consecutive sellouts there. Bon Jovi played eight consecutive sellouts there. And, being that it was home to two NFL teams, a ton of football history was made at the Meadowlands. But time marches on, and stadiums age and are eventually blown up and replaced.
Offensive tackle Damien Woody stretches out and quotes urban poet Allen Iverson’s famous rant about “practice?”. The message of the day from the coaching staff is “We play a week from today”. This is week 2 of training camp, and all the players are under the magnifying glass. Defensive backs coach Dennis Thurman tells linebacker Bart Scott that he needs to have a meeting with the defense, telling the young players to get their act together. Coach Ryan has a similar discussion with Bart. At Rex’s press conference he tells the media that the team still has things to work on and that they aren’t where they need to be. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine isn’t as kind with his criticism, telling the defense they didn’t practice “worth a shit” the previous day.
Today we meet freshly signed rookie linebacker Tim Knicky, taking the place of the recently cut Kevin Basped. He signs his contract and is quickly given a pop quiz on the field by Rex himself. He passes.
Former USC star running back Joe McKnight is having a rough go of it as a rookie. He’s had trouble with his conditioning, which is a really bad sign for a guy who is a speed back. He’s also having problems paying attention on the field. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and running back coach Anthony Lynn both call his consistency into question. Perhaps this is why he has gone from the top rated high school running back to a 4th round pick in a four year span. After not running hard on a passing route, receiver Santonio Holmes comes over and tells the rookie to run harder and to ask someone if he’s not sure where he’s supposed to be. The NFL playbook is proving to be a huge obstacle for the rook. Lynn impresses upon Joe the importance of learning the plays and earning the confidence of the coaching staff and his fellow players. Bart Scott, in the quote of the night, says Joe’s problems stem from him “taking a pay cut”, a hilarious barb at USC’s recent problems with players and boosters.
During a meeting Rex tears into a bag of M&Ms. Quarterback Mark Sanchez, a millionaire, is incensed that a local pizza joint charges $.59 for ranch dressing, comparing it to McDonalds charging for ketchup.
We are then introduced to Sanchez’s 40 year old backup, Mark Brunell. A three time Pro Bowler with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brunell is in camp to serve as a mentor for Sanchez. The players and coaches constantly remind Brunell that he is incredibly old by NFL standards. Despite the ribbing, Brunell makes some plays on the field and has the respect of Coach Ryan. Brunell mentions that his daughter just moved into her college dorm, which draws silence from Sanchez. The coaches kid about Sanchez and Ms. Brunell possibly getting together, to which Mr. Brunell replies “you will NOT meet her”. The two QBs share some laughs, mocking the way a teammate walks.
Brian Schottenheimer talks about his dad, former NFL head coach Marty. Marty talks about the importance of Sanchez taking the next step this year. Statistically speaking, Mark Sanchez was not a good quarterback last season. His QB rating of 63 was awful, as were the 20 interceptions he threw. Rookie quarterbacks nearly always struggle, and despite his statistical deficiencies Sanchez found ways to win football games. The expectations for him this year are high, and the coaching staff is riding him. He has a particularly rough morning practice and is hard on himself. Quarterback coach Matt Cavanaugh, a former NFL QB himself, tells him not to show his frustration on the practice field. The team looks to him as a leader, and he needs to handle himself accordingly. Sanchez looks unconvinced.
Week Two of REVIS WATCH is underway. GM Mike Tannenbaum tells the press that there has been no progress made. Owner Woody Johnson echoes this sentiment. The Jets and Team Revis have agreed on a media blackout in order to prevent the holdout from escalating. Well, lucky for them a certain gun slinging drama queen in Minnesota just ripped the spotlight from them.
In the absence of Revis Island, the Jets are looking elsewhere for help in the secondary. They spent their 1st round pick this year on corner Kyle Wilson out of Boise State. He’s impressed the coaching staff thus far. Wilson hasn’t been overwhelmed at all by making the jump.