Jets Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine had an online chat with fans on the Jets Official Website last night. He gave some very interesting nuggets. Read below for a recap.
For starters (no pun intended), Pettine confirmed what we have been speculating since he signed. Yeremiah Bell will play, and play a lot. “Bell will absolutely start at safety this year. We were blessed to have a guy of his experience come in,” Pettine said.
“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.”
While Jets fan favorite Aaron Maybin has been improving there is still room for improvement according to Pettine, “We’ve been working with Maybin to develop more interior moves. The ability to, if a tackle does overset on a speed move, that he can counter back inside.”
Despite the fact that he is on his way to jail, Kenrick Ellis is one of two players that has really impressed Pettine. “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.”
What about the rookies? “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.”
While Pettine is the Jets Defensive Coordinator, he likes what he is seeing from Tony Sparano on offense. “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.”
Pettine is also excited about to lesser known guys. 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.”
“As far as the fourth corner spot, I would have to say at this point, there is a young kid name by the name of Ellis Lankster who played primarily special teams for us a year ago. He’s done a real nice job for us and he’s taking on a bigger role.”
For those of you who don’t know Lankster, check out my story on him here. A nice kid overcoming severe obstacles, it is hard not to feel good for Lankster, who according to Pettine will have a much bigger role on defense this season. If his past is any indicative of the future, we should expect to see Lankster succeed as the fourth cornerback for the New York Jets this upcoming season.