New York Jets HC Rex Ryan spoke to fan bloggers recently to tell everyone that he is excited about the new season. "We're getting ready to be good," he said. "I don't know about you, but I'm excited about it."
On offense, Rex spoke about using the running backs as pass catchers. "Having a guy with Chris Johnson's talent obviously presents some different things," he said, "because if he catches one, he can take it to the house." He didn't forget about Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell either. "All three of those backs do a good job catching the football, and the screen game is part of it," he said. "I think it's good because it slows down the pass rush. The other thing, too is, you know, sometimes, the wide receiver screen, so all that stuff is incorporated into what we do offensively."
Speaking of wide receiver screen, Rex brought up a wideout's name without solicitation. "The other guy that's jumping out now is Greg Salas," he said. "And like we always say, all he does is get open and catch the football." Salas and David Nelson were picked up mid-season last year and both had to learn the offense on the fly. By now, hopefully, they have a good grasp of OC Marty Mornhinweg's offense. "We kind of just threw 'em in," said Rex. "You know, baptism under fire, so to speak, but now they've really taken this offense. They know it like the back of their hand, and, you know, now they're really able to contribute for us."
Rex also knows the importance of WR Jeremy Kerley. "He has excellent skills," he said. "We all know what our record was when he never played last year, so we hope he's healthy the whole season.
When asked about rookie WR Jalen Saunders, Rex said, "It's still kind of a work in progress, but, you know, he does have that unusual quickness, and he can separate because of that quickness. And on the punt return, he's been working hard, so I think the arrow's up on him. It's just that he's probably not as far along as maybe we had hoped."
Ryan also spoke about the tight ends. "We got three guys," he said, "that are outstanding receiving type tight ends. We've got some decent blockers, too. With [Jeff] Cumberland ... he's got tremendous speed ... and he's got good size and strength. And then obviously Jace [Amaro] is a giant. You know, a big huge guy, and he can run. He's got a great feel for the pass game as well. So I like both those guys. And then [Zach] Sudfeld, the other tight end, that we really don't talk a whole lot about ... He runs a good route, he can catch the football. ... All three of those guys have unusual size and speed."
On defense, Rex said the CB Dee Milliner has been working hard to get healthy. He likes the new corners Leon McFadden and Phillip Adams but hopes that they don't have to play since they just joined the team. Rex spoke with confidence about DB Antonio Allen. "Rest assured, this guy is a hard worker," he said. "I think he's gonna be an outstanding player for us regardless of where we put him."
However, Rex does understand that playing a new position will be an adjustment for Double-A. "He looked terrific as a safety and yet now we move him to corner," he said. "He's only had 30 reps all season as corner, so I get the concern. But this young man has got, uh, you know, he's a football player. And he's got, uh, great ball skills. He's tough. He's physical. And, uh, you know, this week, obviously, you know, we're gonna get tested. You know, vertically, they're gonna just throw some up there. But that's okay, because this young man right here will go get it."
Rex pretty much seems to have memorized the whole team's size and speed, and he mentioned those stats every time he spoke about a player. One of the ones he mentioned was DL T.J. Barnes. "It's impossible for him not to catch your eye," he said. "He's about 6'7", you know, 370 pounds, but, uh, he's a man, too. ... We put him on our practice squad last year. His development has been tremendous."
Rex went on to speak about the defenseive line coach. "Karl Dunbar, we think is an outstanding coach - we know he is - and T.J. just took to him. And his technique has come a long way. The thing I always liked about T.J. was, here is a huge man but he played hard. Big guys like that who play hard are hard to find, and they're gonna be around a long time. But there's no way, if we would have put him out, he would have been picked up. Probably 31 other teams would have claimed him. So he's really progressed that long, you know, that far."
We only had a few minutes to speak to Coach Ryan, so I didn't get to ask him about his thoughts on Emerson Boozer, who has been appointed as tomorrow's game "pilot". Since he had suggested that Amaro look at tape of Mike Ditka, I also would have liked to know if he asked FB Tommy Bohanon to look at tape of Boozer. And lastly, I would have liked to know his thoughts on the "Sons of Anarchy" nickname. Oh yeah, and also if we are ever going to see the '80s throwbacks anytime soon.
Anyways, if you're going to the game tomorrow, be sure to wear white. I know it's kind of corny or whatever. And the only white jersey I have - a Curtis Martin 28 - is now full of beer, ketchup and mustard stains. But do it for Rex.
The team will also be handing out white rally towels for you to wave around. And rally with. Well, not the actual team. But wouldn't it be cool if it was the players standing there and giving them out?
And if you want to buy white apparel at the Jets shop, there will be a 10% discount. And if you are a Jets Rewards member, get inside 30 minutes before kickoff to receive 500 reward points.
Just as last year, the clear bag policy is still in effect, and the team will do the player walk into JetLife stadium around 10:30 am. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle. Enjoy the game, everyone! And here's to a great New York Jets season!