Jets training camp preview: Linebackers

We will be providing position-by-position breakdowns leading up to Jets training camp this Thursday.  For now, we focus on the linebackers.

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

On the roster: Antwan Barnes, Nick Bellore, Quinton Coples, Jermaine Cunningham, Demario Davis, Troy Davis, Steele Divitto, AJ Edds, Jeremiah George, David Harris, Garrett McIntyre, Calvin Pace, Trevor Reilly (editor’s note: for sake of ease we are using the Jets own roster to delineate LBs and DLs)

Davis celebration

Will DeMario Davis continue to improve in his third season?

2013 notes: The Jets linebackers had a bounce-back year in 2013 after a tough 2012, but was an extremely top heavy group with little depth.  David Harris was back to his more consistent form from 2012.  Harris was often around the line of scrimmage on tackles and led the team with 124 tackles and two sacks with one forced fumble.  Second-year player DeMario Davis played much better in his second year by tallying 107 tackles alongside Harris and doing a better job of reading the play earlier and getting in the right place more quickly.  Expect that to continue to improve from Davis now in his third season, something that might be more obvious in coverage.  Behind Davis and Harris, Nick Bellore took less than a handful of defensive snaps all season.

Calvin Pace seemed to reinvent himself during the 2013 season.  Designated pass-rusher Antwan Barnes (2 sacks) was injured in Week 5, Quinton Coples was recovering from injury and Ricky Sapp was scooped up by the Texans.  This gave Pace the opportunity to become a pass rusher and he did so with a surprising 10 sacks — the first time in his career.  Pace has always been a wizard at disrupting plays and holding contain on the edge which drives runners back inside.   In 2013 Pace seemed to get blocked out and lose contain at times.

Coples had a slow start to the 2013 season as he recovered from a hairline fracture in his ankle suffered during the preseason.  Coples pushed his recovery time, but his play was noticeably better in December than it was in October.  Coples was able to pressure the quarterback much more effectively as he healed, showing dominance against New Orleans, Oakland, Cleveland and both Miami games.

Garrett McIntyre was helpful in replacement work.  Jermaine Cunningham saw some time in weeks 12 and 13 as a pass rusher, but wasn’t able to move the QB off his spot.

Overall outlook: Players like Calvin Pace, Antwan Barnes and David Harris might be a year older, but that should be tempered by youth.  The team got younger and deeper at both the interior and exterior positions by bringing in linebackers through the draft (Jeremiah George, Trevor Reilly) to add to their younger ‘veterans’ who are still getting better like Quinton Coples and Demario Davis.  As a whole, the group looks good, but injuries could expose some of the rookies to more snaps than which they might be ready.

Camp competition:  Of this group, the Jets major roles still up for grabs would be the team’s situational pass rusher and then the backup work.  Antwan Barnes was brought in a year ago to be the team’s designated pass rusher, but his ACL tear against the Bills has left question marks as to what kind of shape he will be for the Jets this summer.  Barnes has been positive about his recovery and expects to see the field in July (TJB, June 9) but he could have competition from Jermaine Cunningham and Trevor Reilly as well as the possibility of splitting snaps with Calvin Pace.  Nick Bellore was tendered as a RFA by the Jets, so expect him to continue on as a special teamer, but see if they don’t try him in more defensive work to determine their long-term plans.  Troy Davis seemed to impress Jets coaches last year in the linebacker meeting rooms so see what the team does with him in camp this summer.  Also, Jeremiah George should be in the mix for backup depth at inside linebacker and Rex Ryan publicly stated that they draft him with such a role in mind.  “Last year, we felt very fortunate to get by with only three inside linebackers.  Nick Bellore had to back up both the MIKE [Harris] and the WILL [Davis] to the point where we didn’t really want to play him because we had no more backups. So here, [Jeremiah George] fits a role.”




84 comments
MarshRandy
MarshRandy

Word on twitter is Jamaal Charles is holding out 

Bent
Bent moderator

@Johnny Mirehiel He was injured last year.  I actually heard yesterday that he's working out for KC.

__fense
__fense

@Brendan I wonder who picks these. I wouldn't think that Folk and Decker would go together if it was a coach or something. 

Brendan
Brendan

@MarshRandy Mixed reports, one of their beat writers says the team expects him to report tomorrow. 


I don't blame Charles if he does, he's put up over 3700 yards from scrimmage and 25 TD's the past two seasons

MarshRandy
MarshRandy

@Brendan I think it's interesting. Definitely a progressive idea, could see it catching on 

UncleJoesJetFarm
UncleJoesJetFarm

I think Rich gave Rex a kick in the groan with this comment " Memo to Ryan: "The health of your quarterback is more important than the Snoopy Trophy." OY

MarshRandy
MarshRandy

@Brendan I fully support RBs getting as much money as they can in their prime, we all know how teams treat these guys down the road 

Brendan
Brendan

@MarshRandy Yeah, as someone who doesn't care about paper tickets, I like the idea. I'm curious to see how it plays out in terms of reselling tickets. Is the team now going to force you to go through them since there's no paper ticket? Or will fans still be able to post them on Stubhub and they'll just have Stubhub produce a paper ticket for the game after they're purchased by someone. 

Brendan
Brendan

@Bent Oh man, where's bob? He's gonna love that gif. 

Bent
Bent moderator

@UncleJoesJetFarm


Memo to Cimini - Not giving a prospective starting QB any reps at all in the crucial 3rd preseason game would have been dumber than trusting a four year veteran not to get himself hurt on a hit that happened 5.3 seconds after the ball was snapped.


But then you know that because you would have criticized them just as much for that.

Brendan
Brendan

@MarshRandy He's also the best player on their offense BYYYYY FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR. 


If he held out they would score about 6 points a game. 

__fense
__fense

@Brendan @MarshRandy It sounds like you're able to sell them, but they might actively try to make it difficult to stop away fans from buying the seats. 

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se @Bent @williamg1 Maybe William is making a joke about how Kristian tweeted out a month old story that said he was 70%.

MarshRandy
MarshRandy

@Brendan dude today it finally hit me that football is almost back. FOOTBALL


Time to start prepping for fantasy too

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se @Bent @UncleJoesJetFarm


So nobody would have criticized the Jets if Sanchez was the opening day starter despite not getting any game reps since week two of preseason?


I know I would have.

a57se
a57se

@Bent @a57se

Nope, since he wasn't going to start anyway it wouldn't have mattered.


Brendan
Brendan

@a57se With this logic, it doesn't matter that he did put him in, either. 

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se @Bent I think after Geno's performance that day it was his to lose ... so not giving him any reps would make no sense from anyone's perspective as far as I can see.

a57se
a57se

@Bent @a57se 

Oh stop...Rex screwed up. What is so hard about admitting that?

Bent
Bent moderator

@UncleJoesJetFarm @a57se @Bent Sorry I completely disagree with both of you.  When there's an ongoing QB battle, you need to give.both QBs reps in the penultimate game.


Newsflash Joey - "every analyst" was wrong if that's what they were saying.

__fense
__fense

@a57se @Bent @UncleJoesJetFarm I hate how people don't even bother to come up with arguments at all in order to day that the Jets did make a mistake. They just repeat it like their voice is the voice of God.

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se @Bent @UncleJoesJetFarm It's not a contorted argument though, I've raised several points the media doesn't take into account and you've not addressed any of them.


1. The third game is the most important

2. Starters don't play in the 4th game

3. After Geno's poor performance Sanchez had a good chance to be the starter.

4. Not playing him would have meant he hadn't faced starters for over three weeks on opening day.

5. Most of the "backups" on the OL were on the roster anyway

6. He got injured after 5.3 seconds so it had nothing to do with the ineptitude of the OL

7. Playing him had nothing to do with winning that trophy it was about getting him some reps.


At least try and respond to one of these pertinent comments before you write my diatribe off as "contorted".


As far as I can see your argument consists of "it must be true, every analyst says so".

Bent
Bent moderator

@UncleJoesJetFarm @Bent @a57se


It doesn't matter how many times you say that I'm never ever going to agree with you.  You wanted to give the potential starting QB ZERO reps in the third preseason game, the most important one.  That's one of the stupidest ideas I've ever heard.


The media simply took the outcome (which was Sanchez's fault) and tried to blame Rex for it.  Had Sanchez not played they would have criticized Rex for that too (and been right to do so). 


And the fact he played in front of a second string offensive line had zero bearing on his injury so the media's assertion that this is what caused Sanchez to get hurt is stupid.  5.3 seconds it took for him to get hit.  No starting offensive line in the league protects its QB for that long on every play.

UncleJoesJetFarm
UncleJoesJetFarm

@Bent @a57se When you have a Vet QB who is winning the competition against a raw rookie and no other viable options, you dont throw him in, in a meaningless 3rd preseason game with a jiffy lube oline, it was actually ridiculous!!!

Brendan
Brendan

@__fense 


Manish Mehta @MMehtaNYDNFollow

Rex Ryan should be fired tonight for signing off on one of the dumbest decisions I've ever seen. #nyj



(in case anyone needed reminder of how asinine this argument is)

a57se
a57se

@Bent @a57se @UncleJoesJetFarm 

 1. The third game is the most important

No it is not...the REGULAR SEASON GAMES are!

2. Starters don't play in the 4th game

  Not true. Starters usually play a series or two at the beginning of the game.

 3. After Geno's poor performance Sanchez had a good chance to be the starter.

  You have no idea what the mindset was when Rex stuck Sanchez in the game because he wanted to win the Snoopy Bowl (That is REX' WORDS)

 4. Not playing him would have meant he hadn't faced starters for over three weeks on opening day.

Wrong, they could have played him a series or two vs. the Eagles plus, WHO GIVES A CRAP, the guy had already played 69 NFL Games...

5. Most of the "backups" on the OL were on the roster anyway

And they still stunk.

 

 6. He got injured after 5.3 seconds so it had nothing to do with the ineptitude of the OL

How long it took for him to get injured is MOOT. He shouldn't have been in the game...

7. Playing him had nothing to do with winning that trophy it was about getting him some reps.

 Rex said that is why he put him in there...DIRECT FRIGGIN QUOTE!



UncleJoesJetFarm
UncleJoesJetFarm

@Bent @a57se @UncleJoesJetFarm No bent, it is common sense that you dont throw you vet qb in a meaningless game and risk injury behind a jiffy lube oline when your only other option is a raw rookie! I dont even need the experts to reflect that , it is common football SOP!  I remember a few analysts saying no HC would ever do that!

a57se
a57se

@Bent @UncleJoesJetFarm @a57se 

The stupid idea was not having your experienced QB in the game before the 4th Quarter...do you really think Sanchez' game was going to improve by playing him for a series or two at the end of the 4th Q???

COME ON!

UncleJoesJetFarm
UncleJoesJetFarm

@Bent @UncleJoesJetFarm @a57se Bent, please man!!!! You dont take your vet qb who was wining the competition, and throw him in a meaningless preseson game behind an oline who will be stocking shelves at jiffy lube. That move by Rex was an unmitigated disgrace, plain and simple!

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se 


"No it is not...the REGULAR SEASON GAMES are!"


Stop being difficult. You knew Bent meant the third preseason game is the most important preseason game. 


"Not true. Starters usually play a series or two at the beginning of the game."


Not established starters. People fighting for a job do. 


"You have no idea what the mindset was when Rex stuck Sanchez in the game because he wanted to win the Snoopy Bowl (That is REX' WORDS)"


Rex's actual words cited both winning and competing, but that would take away from your stance so I can see why you excluded that half of his post-game comments. He took responsibility for him being in there, but he also didn't think there was any issue with it, and nor should any fan. It was a competition, and with Geno throwing three interceptions in that game the idea that Mark had no chance to gain ground is pretty lacking, to say the least. 


"Wrong, they could have played him a series or two vs. the Eagles plus, WHO GIVES A CRAP, the guy had already played 69 NFL Games..."


As previously stated, he wouldn't have faced starters in the Eagles game, or at least the majority of the players he would have faced would have been backups. 


The fact that in 69 games he isn't seen as a legitimate starter is enough of a reason to play him. You're all sorts of hypocrisy today, 57. 


"And they still stunk."


So did the guys who made the hit on Sanchez. 


"How long it took for him to get injured is MOOT. He shouldn't have been in the game..."


Uh, no it isn't. 5.3 seconds is almost twice as long as a typical QB gets to throw a pass. Acting like it's irrelevant that Mark held the ball, rolled out and threw an ill-advised pass and fell awkwardly. It's not really anyone's fault, but if you're insisting on putting blame somewhere, it belongs on the veteran player (with 69 starts) who didn't get rid of the ball like he should have. 


" Rex said that is why he put him in there...DIRECT FRIGGIN QUOTE!"


No, a direct quote would be Rex's actual words, which you've suspiciously failed to provide here. As previously stated, he mentions competition just as much as winning in that quote, and despite your refusal to acknowledge it, after his competition threw three int's in the game, Mark had an actual chance to make a case for him starting. 

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se @Bent @UncleJoesJetFarm


Is that really a direct quote?  And if it was are you sure he was being serious?


Anyway, one small correction, the Eagles do not typically play ANY starters on the last preseason game.  The one exception was Nate Allen, who played 23 snaps because they had injuries at the safety position.


A couple of series versus Nate Allen and 10 backups would not have been decent preparation for the opener.


It's not like Sanchez was playing well in preseason himself.  He needed the reps.

Bent
Bent moderator

@UncleJoesJetFarm @Bent @a57se All preseason games are meaningless.  The third one is the least meaningless of all.  


You haven't responded to any of my points, all of which make more sense than "every analyst says so".

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se @Bent @UncleJoesJetFarm


Okay, you've finally made a good point.  Let's not forget though that Geno had missed time in the first two games and so it was important he got a lot of extra reps in this one.  I think they maybe left him in one series too long in hopes that he'd finish on a positive note (which he did) but I can see why they did that and you have to acknowledge the circumstances that factored into this.

a57se
a57se

@Bent @a57se @UncleJoesJetFarm 

Are you really going to argue that a guy who had played 69 NFL games including two AFC Championships somehow needed to face starters before starting the season?

He played against a top shelf defense EVERY DAY in PRACTICE as well!

a57se
a57se

@Bent @a57se @UncleJoesJetFarm 

It was obvious Geno wasn't ready to play QB in the NFL...he couldn't handle taking snaps under Center and make a proper drop...

The Jets were desperate to have Geno start because they were afraid of the fan reaction at the Slinky if Sanchez trotted out there on opening day...

__fense
__fense

@a57se @Bent @UncleJoesJetFarm You're smart enough to know that games, even preseason games, are different than practice. Sanchez didn't play well all preseason. If he played great, or if Geno played so bad like you're saying, then there wouldn't have been a competition. Sanchez needed reps because he's not a perfect QB who's ready to go at a moments notice. No one is. So you put him in the game (not against starters, by the way, I don't know why you and bent keep saying that), and you agree that it's unfortunate that he got himself hurt.

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se @Bent @UncleJoesJetFarm Yes, you need to prepare for a season.  I don't think that's news.  Why would ANY QB EVER play in a preseason game if that wasn't the case?

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se @Bent @UncleJoesJetFarm Now it's you who has no idea what the mindset was.


If they determined Geno wasn't ready, all the more reason Sanchez needed some reps.

a57se
a57se

@Bent @a57se 

So running 5 or 10 plays at the end of the third preseason game would have constituted enough time for you?

Yeah, stick to that story!


a57se
a57se

@Bent @a57se @UncleJoesJetFarm 

They wanted GENO to start and would have started him despite his showing in the third preseason game. Sanchez getting hurt just made it easier for them to do so...That is just my opinion.

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se @Bent


It's better than nothing.  You wanted nothing.  Feel free to stick to THAT story.

Bent
Bent moderator

@a57se @Bent @UncleJoesJetFarm


So I say Sanchez had a good idea to be the starter and you respond "You have no idea what the mindset was" but you can say "They wanted Geno to start and would have started him" and we all have to accept that as fact?

__fense
__fense

@a57se @Bent @UncleJoesJetFarm This is ridiculous. Only one of these opinions are based on fact, and it isn't yours, yet you continue to be disrespectful all day to everyone who doesn't share your exact messed up world view. But now that you've been proven wrong, it's "We're both entitled to our opinions."