City Sports Report

New York Jets : Talking the Talk

Geno Smith and the New York Jets continue to struggle (Photo by Marc Rasbury)

Over the course of the first few days of training camp, the New York Jets have been more vocal than most teams at this juncture. The coach proclaimed that the rest of the division should be more concerned about them. Their second year quarterback predicted that he will eventually be among the top-five signal callers in the NFL. Another sophomore player coming off a poor rookie campaign forecasted that he will be the best at his position in the near future. And then a seasoned veteran prophetically expects his defense to be the best this year. Yes, the Jets collectively have done a lot of talking, now it is time for them to do some walking.

Head Coach Rex Ryan appeared to have gone into the witness protection program last year. He was physically there but his spirit went into hiding. That boisterous presence that we were use to over the years was suppressed to the point where some media pundits were calling him a boring interview. Here was a man who was literally fighting for his job last year and it appeared that the cat, or the GM John Idzik, got his tongue. That was 2013. Thus far in 2014, the old Rex has returned.

Right before training camp started, he emphatically proclaimed that he is one of the best coaches in the NFL. Then someone brought up the New England Patriots and whether he is worried about them this season. In typical pre-2013 Rex, Ryan uttered these words, “Somebody asked me if we focus on New England. Bull—-,” Ryan told the New York Post. “We’re focused on us. We’re focused on us and how are we going to be better. I have to be honest, I don’t worry about them. They need to wory about us.  I think that’s really where we’re at now.” Now that is the old Rex that we all know and love. Now whether his Jets can cash that check that he just wrote remains to be seen. On paper that sounds good and gives sports writers like myself  great material. But quotes like this gives us even better material if the Jets do not live up to the self-inflicted hype.

After the head coaches, quarterbacks are the next folks sought out by the media, and the Jets incumbent starting quarterback, Geno Smith, followed the same path as his head coach. He struggled for most of last year, and a preseason article ranked Smith as the 32nd best starting signal caller out of 32. That did not seem to bother Smith. He responded by saying that he believes that one day he will be among the top-five quarterbacks in the NFL. I know that confidence is half the battle at that position, but Brother Smith, you should be focusing on keeping Michael Vick on the bench first. I know that  all of  your struggles last season were not your fault, but you have a long way to go before you can be mentioned among the best at your position. With a year of experience under your belt and more weapons at your disposal, you should have a better showing in 2014. Just focus on that next step and do not worry about that quantum leap.

Then we have cornerback Dee Millner. When you think of the top corners in the league you think of Richard Sherman, Darrelle Revis, Patrick Peterson and Joe Haden. The name Millner will not likely come to mind. Much was expected of this first round pick. Some even believed that he could replace Revis in the Jets backfield. That was wishful thinking, especially since Revis was considered to be the best defensive back of his generation and Millner was an unproven rookie.

To say that Millner got off to a slow start is an understatement. He was benched several times during the course of the season. He did eventually come on toward the end, but he has a long way to go before his name is printed on an All-Pro ballot form. Once again, I love the confidence but take the next step before making a quantum leap.

Then we have the boastful quote coming from Linebacker/Defensive End Calvin Pace. When asked how he thinks the Jets defense stacks up against the rest of the league, Pace cited, “(Compared to) the rest of the defenses in the NFL? S—, man, we’re the best.” When you consider some of the other quotes coming out of the Jets’ training camp, this might be closer to the truth. Gang Green has one of the best front seven in the NFL. With defensive ends Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson and linebackers Pace, David Harris and Quinton Couples leading the way, Rex Ryan’s pride and joy should give opposing offenses fits. The only weak link as of this time is the defensive backfield.

The loss of Antonio Cromartie is huge. If the Jets are to be ranked among the best defenses, then Millner will have to come close to his evaluation of himself. Kyle Wilson will have to step up his game as well. I like the Calvin Pryor pick and he should help at strong safety. If this unit can hold their own, Pace may be on to something.

We are only a week into training camp and the New York Jets have given us enough back-page trash talk to last an entire season. They have talked-the- talk, now it is time for them to walk-the-walk!

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