As the Jets reported to training camp today, there was a new feeling in the air. Coming off an 8-8 record with a band of kids playing tough minded football, the Jets were a surprise team in the AFC this past season. Coming into the 2014 season however, no one will be surprised to see Rex Ryan and company competing atop of the AFC. With the new additions of Eric Decker and Chris Johnson, Cortland will be a perfect place for the two stars to learn what it takes to "Play like a Jet." Cortland is where Rex Ryan becomes Rex Ryan.
"I feel incredible about this team and we talk about passing the conditioning tests and things like that. I challenge our guys because you either get better or you get worse in that month before you head to a camp and that’s all on the players. There’s nobody else, it’s 100 percent on the players. Every one of them came back in phenomenal shape, in great shape. It’s hard not to get excited."
Ryan recalled his first training camp trip to the small town of Cortland six years ago.
“I’ll never forget we came up two days before just so we could see the facilities and all that, and we look at the one grass practice field we had, and it looked pretty, but it was rolling hills, and things, not good for a football field,” quipped Ryan. “And I remember going to Mr. (Woody) Johnson and thinking “oh my goodness.” Then he tore the whole thing up, we re-sodded it and all that. Now when you look at these things they’re as good as any training camp fields that there is in the league but these facilities are terrific now year six.”
Cortland is off the grid of the map, compared to the night life of New York. When the Jets are in Cortland, they have nothing but football and each other to entertain them. Here is where Rex develops unique relaitonships with the players, and where the players become brothers on and off the field. It's the perfect spot to get the entire team to go away from their outside lives, and make being a Jet their new life.
“I’ll tell you what, I have a great indication of what we have and certainly wasn’t surprised by this, but this is the first year that I’ve ever been where the entire football team passed the conditioning test,” noted Ryan. “Not one guy (didn’t pass) the conditioning test and it’s not a surprise. This type of team gets it.”
Also, with the addition of Michael Vick, he can potentially take Geno Smith under his wing in Cortland, and they can potentially develop a relationship that can help Smith improve not only as a football player, but as a leader of men, something Vick is credited for throughout his career.
Jets training camp in Cortland is a perfect landing spot for a team learning to bond together. The key ingredient in football and coaching is to have everyone on the roster on the same ship. Where better of a place to go than Cortland, New York?