Under Rex Ryan penalties were constantly holding the Jets back. Of course there were other problems, like a general lack of talent, but far too often the Jets dug their own hole by committing too many penalties and even worse commiting penalties at the most inopportune time.
Part of the reason for the amount of penalties was most likely due to a lack of accountability fostered under Ryan, new coach Todd Bowles will not be making that mistake.
Throughout training camp there would be an extra competitive portion of practice where the offense and defense would square off with the losing side forced to run gassers after practice. Yesterday that changed as the entire team ran was forced to run.
"Well, practice was over and we said any time we had more than five penalties, we're going to run gassers," Bowles said. "There were more than five penalties in practice. We had six, so we ran."
Bowles confirmed this was a new rule they came up with after the last week's game against the Atlanta Falcons, where the Jets were penalized 17 times for a total of 125 yards. It was only a preseason game so sure, get it out of your system now, but Bowles knows he can't allow this to become a running theme throughout the season and to correct this issue he's going to demand accountability.
The beauty of this plan is in it's simplicity. Five penalties is the limit, any more than five and the entire team runs. This means it doesn't matter if a player hasn't committed a single penalty all camp, if his teammates commit more than five as a group that player has to run as well. No one is exempt. It's one thing for a player to have to run, or do push-ups, themself if they commit a penalty but if your penalty means the entire team gets punished other players will be more likely to hold each other accountable.
Bowles was asked if he thinks running gassers will work with professionals or if that's a motivational tactic that is better suited for high schoolers and he said, "We'll see. I know professional guys don't like to run."
Bowles is right of course, no one likes to run and even moreso no one wants to be responsible for making the entire team have to run.
But running gassers can't be the only solution to the problem, negative reenforcement can only do so much. You also have to address the root of the problem which is why Bowles implemented a few other tricks during practice.
"You practice hard counts. You practice get offs and hard counts and everything like that. If you get off holding ones you just can't do down the field, you practice technique until you're blue in the face," Bowles said. "Some of them are necessary, (on) some of them, we're just throwing the flag just because to make them aware. As long as they're aware and the flags are getting thrown, they'll get better at it."
With the first-team units set to play for the entire first-half, and maybe a series or two in the second-half, against the New York Giants Saturday night Bowles will be looking for the number of penalties to decrease dramatically. If they don't the team will be doing a lot of running next week and Bowles will have to start drawing up backup plans for how to make sure this doesn't become a problem that plagues the team throughout the season.
Chris Nimbley is the Editor-in-Chief and lead writer of JetsInsider.com/Scout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@cnimbley), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org).