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Collision Low Crossers: Some Notes. Highly recommended for any Jets fan (and football fan).


I've been surprised there has been no discussion of this book around here (that I've seen at least) given its Jets content.

This book is basically Hard Knocks to the nth degree: a writer embeds himself with the Jets for the entire 2011 season.

He spends the majority of his time with the defensive coaching staff (the rest with offensive coaches, players, front office, personnel), but gives a pretty even-handed account of the season. It's all gray, not black-and-white. TONS of behind-the-scenes details.

I'm a Lions fan with a soft spot for the Jets.

Some notes about things I found particularly interesting (these notes are a poor substitute for actually reading the book):

1. What you might be surprised about is that coaches and front-office are not blind. They see everything the fans see and share many, if not all, of their concerns. What is even more surprising is the lack of control they have. Tannenbaum watched games and reacted like a crazy fan. He got angry when the receivers gave away pass plays by clapping their hands out of the huddle. At the same time, even with his game-notes, there wasn't the sense he could do much about it. At the end of the day, the players are going to do what the players are going to do, especially the talented ones like Holmes and Burress and Cromartie.

2. Jeff Weeks comes off extremely poorly as a coach. He was there because he is Rex's confidant. He was a source of resentment because he was sloppy and lazy as a coach, yet still got paid more than a lot of other assistants. For example, player evaluation assignments that Weeks were supposed to do sometimes were done by Rex because Weeks just didn't do them. At the combine trip, Weeks is the only coach who isn't there. From the book, it is not clear whether he offered ANY value as a coach.

Pettine finally had a meeting with Rex during the 2011 season and got Rex to agree to dump Weeks. However, Weeks is brought back for the 2013 season because many defensive coaches like Pettine left after the 2012 season. The claim was that Weeks cleaned up his act. I'd be skeptical.

But one could argue that having Weeks around was good for Rex, and what is good for Rex is good for the Jets.

3. Likewise, drafting Scotty McKnight was purely a Rex Ryan decision, and caused resentment because it was seen as a way to keep Sanchez's best friend around, and make Sanchez happy, rather than as the acquisition of a player based on his skills. In the preseason, Sanchez would go out of his way to throw to McKnight.

4. Rex is portrayed as a people person and a great motivator and speech-giver. His approach is hands-off in that he was extremely reluctant to interfere with his coaches - he wanted to give coaches their space. There is also the sense that after his success his first two seasons, he was more distracted and less involved in the 2011 season.

During the games, he would get very emotional and question Pettine's defensive gameplan and playcalling, sometimes leading him to call for plays that had not been practiced - freaking out some of the other coaches. Later in the season, this would lead to Rex calling defensive 3rd down plays.

Rex is portrayed as a Rainman-like savant in that he could diagnose a play from the chaos on film (and live) much faster than anyone else.

5. Pettine is the yin to Rex's yang. The cool reason to Rex's emotion. The Jeff Weeks situation above is an example of that. I think the author stayed at Pettine's house at times.

6. Schottenheimer seems sympathetic in that he was hamstrung by his QB, o-line, and star receivers who were constantly demanding the ball. At the same time, even the offensive coaches were mystified by the lack of running plays called in the Giants Jets game. The defensive staff resentment of the offense is a recurring theme in the book.

7. Sanchez seems immature (even a bit of a douche at times who can't stop joking about everything) but well-prepared. The offensive line issues magnified his bad decision-making.

8. Revis is as skilled and professional as they come.

9. Cromartie is interesting. A constant source of hand-wringing by the coaches. The speculation is that his background led to his unwillingness to handle male authority figures. Generous and thoughtful with his time with rookies and the author. Highly sensitive to coaches' criticism. At the same time, lacking effort in his press technique and tackling. At the end of the season, he does tell the author that he was dealing with an upper-body-injury.

10. Holmes and Burress seem selfish, but their claim would be that they felt frustrated that they couldn't help the team more by catching passes.

Lots more in the book - once again, I highly recommend.

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