Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comAnother week, another group of lessons we learned from this week’s Jets OTAs.
Not Bowled Over — Dom Cosentino hit it right on the head with his assessment of the Jets playing hooky on their last day. Yes, these activities are “voluntary” but every player is there for their own edification and the betterment of the team. While there’s a lot of rules about how much time players can spend on the field together, it’s not as if players haven’t been using all off-season to refine their game. Mo and his defensive line brethren headed to Houston this winter to learn from one of the best line coaches on their own dime. Are there downsides? The potential to send a wrong message? Going bowling or playing paintball isn’t just a chance to have some team bonding, I think it’s about something else. Ryan doesn’t like taking chances with injuries, often sitting players on the day they sign a big contract or putting veterans with nagging injuries on “pitch counts.” I have to think that Ryan’s unwillingness to see a player injured on the last day of voluntary team activities is a driving force behind why the coach took it easy on his fellas during the last day of voluntary team activities.
Mix and Match — The Jets are experimenting with the lineup during the absence of veteran right guard Willie Colon. Ryan said that he is “not gonna write Willie off yet.” Hinting that Colon might be back in the lineup this summer. Either way, the Jets were using this as an opportunity to give younger players time on the field with the starters. We fully expected the Jets to move around Brian Winters to allow another young player like Oday Aboushi to play the left spot. “I’ve been impressed with Aboushi,” Ryan told reporters. “A little more this year already in these camps than I was at any time last year.” It’s a good sign of the progress and that the team might be best served playing him inside, at least early in his career. It makes perfect sense that Ryan would talk up Aboushi at left guard; it’s the easier of the two since it’s the easier of the two thanks to to D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold.
Landing Spot for Landry — It will be very interesting to see how the Jets utilize safety Dawan Landry going forward with first rounder Calvin Pryor a likely starter and third year player Antonio Allen penciled in alongside Pryor. Landry soaked up a large number of snaps last season on defense for the Jets. Landry can act as another coach for the young safeties and might be a good situational player and spot starter. Landry might never have been at his best in coverage and the Jets might be deep at in-the-box safeties, but his experience can’t be undervalued.
Smith Settling In — Teammates like what they hear from second year quarterback Geno Smith. Smith ‘seems like he has a lot more confidence right now’ Nick Folk told NFL Network earlier this week. Players seem to agree that Smith is more confident in his play calls and in his reads that he was a year ago. It makes sense, Smith has been digging into the playbook for a year now. If Geno is improved then it would only underscore the improvement was saw from him at the end of 2013. But it will be hard to judge how much improvement there is until training camp and the preseason to get a true sense of how far the young quarterback has come.
Too Much About the Two — There’s a lot of attention being placed on who will line up opposite Eric Decker come September. I won’t say that I’m not interested in the matter, but the simple fact is that the team’s second best wide receiver is Jeremy Kerley, end of story. I don’t doubt that there will be a flanker who plays opposite Eric Decker. That player might be Stephen Hill, David Nelson or Jalen Saunders, but I’m sorry, until proven otherwise I won’t call that player the team’s “WR2.” Kerley has routinely played above his head in the last three seasons with little help and will finally have some talent to make him even more effective wherever he might line up. Yes, Kerley does his best work in the slot, but he shouldn’t be typecast as an inside-only receiver, he’s demonstrated the ability to play outside and stay productive when required. In addition, the Jets only three game losing streak of 2013 came during the three games that Kerley didn’t play. Of course Kerley wasn’t the only reason that the Jets lost three straight, but his absence certainly didn’t help an offense that could barely keep afloat with him in the lineup. Whether Kerley is the crowned “two” or not, he’s the team second best receiver as the team plans for the season and to limit his snaps for players who are not as productive as him would be unwise.