Today was the last day of media availability before the draft tomorrow night and while it was just another light day of work, consisting of installs, and you still can’t put too much stock in what you see on the practice field in April we’ll still hit you with the highlights from today’s practice.
Much better day for Geno Smith. Yesterday I noted that Smith did not have a good day, he was erratic and missed in every conceivable way but today he looked really sharp. He made quick decisions in seven-on-sevens and 11-on-11s and was much more accurate even as he had to deal with some gusts of wind. His passes cut through the wind with ease and while he was far from perfect he looked much more confident and the proof was in all the completions.
While Smith looked much better than yesterday one thing that didn’t change is the fact that you can’t read anything into him looking good today anymore than him looking bad yesterday. They’re still not running full speed most of the time, there’s no contact and the entire team is still learning the playbook. Training camp is where he’s going to have to make his mark to lock down the starting job.
With all the noise surrounding the possibility that the Jets could potentially draft a quarterback this weekend causing a lot of chatter in the media and fans but for Smith and Bowles that noise is the same as a tree falling in the woods with no one around to hear it.
“There are always other guys, that’s the nature of the business,” Smith said. “There are always other guys and there is always going to be competition. I have always welcomed it and I still do.”
Bowles agreed with with Smith saying basically the same thing.
“I don’t think it’s anything. I don’t think he can pay any mind to it,” Bowles said. “Just as when he came in the league and there were other quarterbacks here, that’s at every position, if you look at what we draft instead of worrying about what you can do you’re going to to lose your spot. Just focus on you and get better as a person, I don’t think you worry about that. There are going to be guys coming in every year, that’s not just quarterback that’s every position.”
When Bowles was asked about what he’s seen from Smith so far he offered a pretty positive review full of compliments.
“Effort, he has a pretty good grasp on what they are trying to teach him but when you go from phase two, going against air, then coming to practice throwing against different defenses, as much they put in over there, you know it’s a different deal,” Bowles said. “There’s some adjustments on both sides of the ball but he’s been positive, he’s been accurate on a lot of things especially the individual drills. They got to get the timing down, it’s a real early process, but his spirit is strong, his information gathering is good and he’s gung-ho and he understands what it takes to lead this team.”
Calvin Pryor and Jeremy Kerley return. Pryor and Kerley were both at practice today and both participated fully in practice. This makes Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson the only players not in attendance.
Communication in the secondary. If there was one constant I heard Rex Ryan refer to in reference to defensive troubles throughout his time here it was about poor communication in the secondary. This could just be because it’s a new system (I started covering the team in Ryan’s second year) but I have never heard/seen the secondary communicate with each other on and off the field before.
“Defensively, we are trying to get our communication down,” Bowles said yesterday. “The biggest thing out of this minicamp is communication for guys to get to know where each other are on the field and to get to learn to trust their guys.”
On the field today there was very little confusion, the calls got in quick and, with the exception of a few mistakes, everyone tended to be in the right place. On the sidelines it was even better, whether it was younger players asking the veterans about specifics or players arguing about who got to take the blame for a mistake. I don’t mean they were pointing fingers at each other as they all seemed willing to say they were the ones at fault. Again this could just be because of new terminology/system but considering how often Ryan would get upset about poor communication this has to be encouraging for Jets fans to hear.
Yesterday I mentioned how Dee Milliner followed Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis around the sidelines picking their brains and that continued today to the point where I think they might get sick of Milliner real soon. Every time they would come off the field Milliner would be waiting for them to ask why they did this or that, most of the time before they even had a chance to take their helmets off and catch their breath. Milliner still can’t participate in practices as he’s rehabbing but he’s clearly putting in the mental work and taking advantage of the opportunity to learn from those two.
Versatility and doing the dirty work is everyone’s job. There are many differences between Bowles and Ryan but there are a lot of similarities as well. One such similarity is how much both coaches like versatility. Yesterday Bowles talked about the importance of versatility on the offensive line but today it started with a question about Calvin Pace and his past role of being the one to do most of the dirty work.
“Yeah, (but) at some point on defense everybody’s got to do the dirty job,” Bowles said. “Whether it’s one-on-one coverage or whether it’s picking for somebody or whether it’s dropping back in coverage one of the things you need to do is, it’s not just Cal (Pace) it just seems that’s how his career has been lately, but he does a lot of things well and those guys are probably appreciated in the locker room and by the coaching staff more than the are in the public. Calvin does so many things well, he’s a bright guy, a very smart guy, and he’s a very astute player so I’m very happy with Calvin.”
On the offensive side of the ball today Bowles talked about the need for Jace Amaro to be versatile as well saying, “He’s going to have to be a Jack-of-all-trades toots to say he’s a flex tight end is not giving him enough credit. In this league if you’re one way or the other they are going to key on you so he’ll be versatile that way. He’ll spread out some, but he’ll be in the box as well.”
Quincy Enunwa route-running has improved dramatically. The receivers are the group the media got the best look at these past two days and while most of it was in drills with no defenders I did notice one big difference in a player that was here last year. Last year Enunwa’s route-running was choppy and raw, this year he’s cleaned up the roughness of his routes ten-fold.
With his powerful frame if he can continue with this improved route-running and just react when he’s on the field, instead of overthink, he could certainly contribute as a fourth or fifth receiver.