Dan Leberfeld's Blog

Q-and-A with Bowles on Amaro going to IR 09.01.15

Q)Why was Jace Amaro put on IR?

Bowles: It was either a two-week period, two and a half, three week period to get better. If it didn’t get any better and it was still as worse as it was, then we’d have to go ahead and do surgery and we’d have to shelve him. So we gave him time to get better and he didn’t get better. So, end result is we have to do surgery and put him on IR.

Q)Is it a torn labrum?

Bowles: That’s what they said it was. But, he can’t do anything. We had to put him on IR. He’s still in a lot of pain.

Q)Did he have surgery yet?

Bowles: Not yet.

Q)What is the state of your tight end position?

Bowles: Somebody has to step up. We have a couple guys playing this week that we want to see more of. We’ll look at it from there. It’s just a chance for somebody else to play.

Q)Was Amaro surprised to be put on IR?

Bowles: (He) wasn’t surprised, I mean he was bummed out about it. But, if you’re in pain and you’re not getting any better, you have to fix it sooner than later.

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Flynn’s injuries vis-à-vis his arm 08.31.15

Florham Park – Matt Flynn, who is vying for the Jets’ backup QB job, clearly isn’t 100 percent healthy.

He is dealing with hamstring and ankle injuries.

And while no injuries are good, these two ailments are particularly bad for Flynn.

You see, he’s not blessed with the greatest arm strength to start with, so having two injuries to his lower base, which impact his leg mechanics, can’t be helpful.

And are likely hurting his ability to drive the football.

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Q-and-A with Ryan Fitzpatrick 08.31.15

Q)How do you approach this week in practice since you won’t play in the fourth preseason game?

Fitzpatrick: The fourth preseason game is obviously one where a lot of other guys will get time and so, for me, it’s just, in practice, staying sharp, staying up with the conditioning, making all the throws and all of that. Also, trying to help out as much as possible. I remember when I was in that situation a lot, fighting for a spot on the team in that last preseason game, so just trying to give everything I have in terms of being able to help guys as well.

Q)How much does it help the offense when the running game has success?

Fitpatrick: When we’re able to run the ball like that, I think any team, when you’re able to run the ball, it makes everybody’s job easier. Up front, I know that our guys enjoy that, you’re kind of imposing your will on the other team. We have some really good running backs here, they’ve shown a lot this preseason and throughout their careers, so that will be a big focus for us this year and an important piece for us.

Q)How pleased are you with how you guys protected the football in the preseason?

Fitzpatrick: That’s going to be important for us all year long, protecting the football, not taking sacks, not taking those negative plays. That was something that was good the first three preseason games to come out clean, but that’s going to be a focus for us all year long.

Q)Coach Bowles says he wants to evaluate the new quarterbacks, Josh Johnson and Matt Flynn, in this game . . .

Fitzpatrick: It’s tough for a quarterback to come in without much time, not much familiarity between receivers and tight ends and running backs. You’re learning the cadence, let alone the formations and the plays. So, it won’t be the easiest of situations, but those two guys are veterans, they’ve played football, they’ve been in a lot of different offenses, so hopefully they’ll be able to pick it up well.


Very tough call for Maccagnan 08.27.15

Florham Park – Watching all the Jets receivers on the last day of camp, it really hit me – man, is Mike Maccagnan going to have a tough time picking the last few wideout spots.

There were 12 wide receivers out there on the practice field today, and I’m telling you, up to this point, none of them have cut themselves.

Obviously, Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker are locks to make that team, and Devin Smith will be anointed because he was a second round pick, but after that . . . we could have a two hour debate on what should happen after that.

Maccagnan might have to up his lattes to 15 on the day of final cuts, trying to figure out the receiver situation.

A lot of talent at receiver in Jets camp, and a lot of close talent.

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Is the preseason too long? 08.24.15

Florham Park – Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers feels the NFL needs to cut down on the amount of preseason games.

Rodgers said this after losing one of his favorite targets, WR Jordy Nelson, to a season-ending knee injury in a preseason loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“It’s difficult to lose a guy like that in a meaningless game,” Rodgers said. “I think a lot of players around the league probably do [want to eliminate it]. At least cut it down, maybe, to a couple.”

I asked Jets quarterback Ryan Fitpatrick, who has been in the league a decade, what he thinks about the length of the preseason, and he had a slightly different take than Rodgers.

“I think everybody’s situation is different,” Fitzpatrick said. “Aaron has been in the league in the same offense with a lot of the same guys. For me, a lot of years, like when I was in Buffalo a second and third year, I didn’t really look forward to the preseason. The last few years for me, being in a new system with new guys, it’s kind of nice to get out there and try to get comfortable with everybody. It stinks to lose anybody in a meaningless game. I’d certainly be frustrated in losing a player of Jordy’s (Nelson) caliber, but I think (the preseason is) something that we still need unfortunately.”

***Ryan Fitzpatrick is on the cover of the new edition of Jets Confidential Magazine. On news stands now, and by subscription.


People should not be surprised by this speed 08.24.15

Florham Park – When Chris Ivory breaks off a long run, people are often surprised by his speed.

In the Jets’ preseason win over Atlanta last Friday, Ivory had a 33-yard touchdown run.

Last September, in a Jets win over Oakland, he had a 71-yard touchdown scamper.

When he does these things, observers shouldn’t be surprised.

Yes, he is a big, bruising back at 6-0, 222, but he also has very good wheels.

He ran a 4.49 forty at the 2011 combine.

So he’s more than just an in-between-the-tackles runner.

He also has the speed to take it the distance at any time.

**The latest issue of Jets Confidential Magazine is out, and has page after page of good stuff on Gang Green, stuff you won’t read anywhere else. Get it, you won’t regret! On news stands or by subscription. You can order on this website or by calling 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 9-5).


Nice signing by Maccagnan right before camp 08.21.15

Wide receiver Austin Hill has quietly had a very good training camp.

The University of Arizona product, who signed with the Jets right before camp started, has consistently produced in practices this summer.

#16 runs good routes, rarely drops the ball and has excellent size (6-3, 212).

Watching him this summer, he looks like a second round-type prospect.

And he was probably on his way to being picked pretty high until he blew out his knee in 2013.

In 2012, he was second in the Pac-12 with 1,364 receiving yards and was a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award. He finished that season with 81 catches and 11 touchdowns. Hill had an 11 catches against Stanford and 10 for 259 yards against #10 USC.

When he came back to action in 2014, he was solid, but not great, with 49 catches and four touchdowns.

So often players get back to their old self two years after a knee injury, and it looks like Hill is rounding back into his 2012 form.

It could be hard for Hill to make the Jets’ regular roster with a crowded field at the receiver position, but he could make a real nice practice squad player for them in 2015.

This guy clearly has a lot of ability

Don’t forget to pick up the latest issue of the monthly Jets Confidential Magazine on news stands now, and by subscription (1-800-932-4457, M-F, 9-5 or you can sign-up on this website). A must read for die-hard Jets fans. Get it, you won’t regret it.


There is some ability here #nyj 08.20.15

At Jets practices on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, rookie free agent quarterback Jake Heaps was getting more reps than Bryce Petty.

Heaps clearly hasn’t moved ahead of Petty, however Chan Gailey just decided to give Heaps more reps this week

I had really low expectations for Heaps. After all as a senior transfer, he got beat out by a freshman at the University of Miami last year. What’s up with that?

But you know what, watching Heaps closely on Tuesday and Wednesday, I have to admit, he’s better than I thought.

Heaps and wide receiver Walt Powell (who is having a terrific camp) had several really nice connections on Wednesday, including a deep out over Antonio Cromartie. Heaps also had a couple nice completions on bootlegs to the left side, throwing against his body.

Heaps spent a couple of years at Kansas playing for Charlie Weis. And while the Jayhawks struggled under the former Jets’ assistant and Notre Dame coach, they played a pro-offense, and this clearly helped Heaps maturation process.

Heaps looks like a good practice squad candidate for the Jets, and if he continues to develop, maybe he can be a factor in their quarterback equation down the road.

**The new issue of Jets Confidential Magazine is out. It’s one of our best issues ever! So much good stuff on Gang Green you won’t read anywhere else. Back by popular demand is our “Training Camp Diary,” an off-the-beaten path look at Jets Camp. You can pick up a copy of this must-read for Jets fans on Tri-State area newsstands, or by subscription. You can subscribe on this website, or by calling 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 9-5).


Marshall’s risky media strategy 08.18.15

As we all know, last Tuesday, IK Enemkpali punched Geno Smith in the face breaking his jaw. Smith will be out 6-10 weeks.

“It’s a body blow for us, but we have to move forward,” Brandon Marshall told ESPN Radio. “We’ll probably have another couple of days … probably a couple of weeks of the New York media (asking) the team questions, but we’re built for this. We don’t want any distractions.”

Not sure if it would have continued if not for Marshall doing national shows on Monday and talking about it.

“Did [Smith] put his finger in his face? No, he didn’t,” Marshall said on ESPN Radio. “Geno Smith, he didn’t do anything wrong that day. It’s just an unfortunate situation.”

One thing is pretty clear with Marshall – he loves the national media, but isn’t as fond of the local press.

“Marshall didn’t want to talk about the incident when approached by reporters last Thursday after the Jets’ first preseason game, but he wasn’t shy about defending Smith on Monday during interview with national media outlets,” wrote ESPN’s Rich Cimini.

If Marshall wants to treat the local media this way, that is prerogative.

But he’s probably playing with fire, and this approach could come back to bite him. If he struggles, local reporters likely aren’t going to cut him much slack.

The best strategy with the media – treat everybody the same, like Eli Manning does.

Don’t set up a caste system.

**The new issue of Jets Confidential Magazine is being printed today. It will be out in a few days. It might be our best issue of the year, with our popular “Training Camp Diary,” a Jets Confidential tradition. To subscribe to this must-read for Jets fans, call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 9-5) or you can subscribe on this website. A subscription makes a great gift for a Jets fan.

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What Rex said is naïve #nyj 08.13.15

From a football standpoint, it’s a not a bad move.

I’m talking about Rex Ryan claiming IK Enemkpali on waivers.

I like IK as a football player.

I think he could have helped the Jets this year before ending his career with the team by punching Geno Smith in the face.

“Nothing justifies hitting someone and all that stuff,” Ryan said yesterday after the transaction was announced. “But I also believe that he’s gonna learn from this.”

This is such a naïve statement.

For Rex to think he’s “gonna learn from this,” the coach is either very sheltered or has his head in the sand.

IK has an anger management problem.

“A GM said the Geno punch was third IK fight he knows of,” tweeted Alex Marvez of Fox Sports. “Talented player, but clearly some anger management issues there that raise huge red flag.”

I don’t care how much money Geno owed IK, or what he said to him before the punch, this doesn’t justify a man getting punched in the face, breaking his jaw.

Hey, it’s possible IK makes the Bills, and behaves himself. He seemed to be fine last year with the Jets.

But all it takes is someone to push the wrong buttons, and this problem could rear it’s ugly head again.

So for Rex to say, “he’s gonna learn from it” – talk about wearing rose-colored glasses.

Tempers and anger problems aren’t issues you can just learn from.

They are too deep-seated to view them in such a simplistic fashion.

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I agree with Todd – stop rationalizing this behavior 08.12.15

Detroit – I think it’s flat-out wrong for people to somehow blame Geno Smith for getting punched in the face.

I’m not saying he handled his financial tiff with Buffalo Bills linebacker IK Enemkpali particularly well, but there is no rationale – none – to say he somehow brought this broken jaw on himself.

“I don’t know what happened, but, for me, it’s a lack of leadership on Geno Smith’s part that he would put himself in harms way to get sucker punched,” Cris Carter said on ESPN when the story broke yesterday.

That’s crazy. A guy shows bad leadership, so he’s somehow culpable for getting punched in the face?

I agree with Todd Bowles.

“Barring anybody messing with your kids or your family, you shouldn’t have to hit another man,” Bowles said. “Without you harming their family you shouldn’t put your hands on anybody.

“When somebody just walks up to you and just takes a shot, you know that can’t be warranted anywhere.”

That’s exactly right.


Bowles Q-and-A on incident 08.11.15

Q)What happened between IK and Geno?

Bowles: IK (Enemkpali) went up to him. I guess some words were exchanged and he fired off a punch and he dropped.

Q)Was it personal or football related?

Bowles: It was a personal issue that one of them can tell you. I told them I wouldn’t say anything. If they want to tell you, but I thought it was childish either way and it was stupid but, we have to live with the results.

Q)When exactly did it happen?

Bowles: I couldn’t tell you the time. I can tell you I found out about midmorning, so we went from there.

Q)On whether Smith bears any responsibility in the altercation…

Bowles: Well, I think if you don’t put your hands on somebody and somebody punches you, regardless of the situation, barring anybody messing with your kids or your family, you shouldn’t have to hit another man.

Q)Is Smith a totally innocent victim?

Bowles: I didn’t say he was innocent. I just said the whole thing was childish. It was tit for tat. He say, she say. Some high school stuff they could have handled better than they handled it.


This should have little impact 08.11.15

Florham Park – IK Enemkpali punched Geno Smith in the face and broke his jaw.

The quarterback is out 6-8 weeks.

While this an unfortunate incident, I don’t think it will really have a big impact on the Jets’ season.

One thing was pretty apparent watching the first couple of weeks of Jets training camp – Geno Smith isn’t better than Ryan Fitzpatrick.

In fact, I give Fitzpatrick a slight edge.

I’m not putting Fitzpatrick in Canton, but he’s made quicker decisions than Smith in camp. He processes defenses faster and is clearly more comfortable in Chan Gailey’s offense. Fitzpatrick played under Gailey in Buffalo.

Fitzpatrick has been much better than Smith on hot reads when blitzed.

So while what happened today to Smith is troubling, it probably won’t have a big impact on the team’s won-loss record.


My take on Amaro depth chart situation 08.11.15

A lot was made about Jace Amaro being third on the Jets’ tight end depth chart behind Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Davis.

And I can understand why it caused a buzz.

However, it my mind, it’s not a big shock.

Cumberland has been the Jets’ starting tight end for the entire camp, so the fact that he is #1 isn’t a surprise.

It’s the #2 spot that caught many by surprise.

Why is the journeyman Davis ahead of Amaro?

Simple. The #2 tight end needs to be a very good blocker. The 6-6, 265-pound Davis is a terrific blocker. Amaro is still a work-in-progress as a blocker after not being asked to block a lot at Texas Tech.

It’s as simple as that.

Amaro will still have a role, but when the Jets go to two tight end sets, in obvious running situations, the combination of Cumberland and Davis makes the most sense for the Jets right now.

***To subscribe to the monthly Jets Confidential Magazine, call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F).


The guy has had a very good camp for Gang Green 08.10.15

Florham Park – Jets cornerback Marcus Williams is having a very good training camp.

The second-year North Dakota State-product has very good instincts, and gets his hands on a lot of footballs.

If there was as a stat for most defensed passes in Jets camp, cornerback Buster Skrine or Williams would likely be neck-and-neck for the lead.

Williams had two terrific plays in Monday’s practice.

On about a 20-yard pass to Saalim Hakim down the left hash-mark, Williams read the play perfectly, and knocked the throw away. Then he had a Pick Six on an out-route to Quincy Enunwa.

It was a very smart move by the former Jets’ regime signing him to their practice squad last September 26, and then promoting him to the active roster a month later. He started eight games for the Jets last season and held his own.

He’s an aggressive cornerback with good route recognition and ball skills (21 picks in college). He’s also very willing in run support.

***The next issue of Jets Confidential Magazine comes out next week with our popular summer feature – “Training Camp Diary.” Don’t miss out – subscribe now on this website or by calling 1-800-932-4457 (M-F, 9-5).


He needs a little margin of error #nyj 08.09.15

Are we going to let a few knuckleheads drive the narrative?

Is that where we’re at?

Geno Smith had a few bad plays in a “practice” at MetLife Stadium, he gets booed, and this is a big story?

I’m no special-pleader for Smith, but this is sad.

Keep in mind, the Jets are installing a new offense, and have a lot of new players, so there are some kinks to work out right now.

And that is what training camp is for – to get the kinks out.

What the heck are people booing him for?

Do they expect him to walk on water in an early summer practice? Do they expect perfection? He’s going to make mistakes.

Look, I don’t know if he’s the Jets’ long-term answer at quarterback. Todd Bowles, Mike Maccagnan and Chan Gailey are still trying to figure that out.

But for him to get booed, and for that to be the big story coming out of a practice, is unfortunate.


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