Dan Leberfeld's Blog

Good guy to help Jets young corners 07.27.14

Cortland – I saw a guy who looked familiar coaching-up young Jets corners, and wondered who it was.

After looking into it, I found out it was former NFL cornerback Samari Rolle, who played for the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens.

He is a coaching intern with the Jets.

And that should benefit guys like Dexter McDougle and Brandon Dixon.

Rolle played in the NFL for 12 years, and aside from being a very good cover guy, another thing you had to respect about him, was how tough he was for such skinny guy (6-0, 175). He was fearless.

Give Milliner a break 07.27.14

The Daily News hit a grand slam, and it led to links all over the internet.

NFL.com headline –  “New York Jets’ Dee Milliner: I’m the best corner in NFL.”

The best corner in the league? Me,” Milliner told Manish Mehta of the Daily News on Saturday. “I ain’t gonna say that somebody else is better than me.”

Milliner was playing the confidence card. Playing man-to-man corner in the NFL is very difficult, so you have a tremendous amount of confidence and believe in yourself.

Milliner fell into a media trap, and this quote is certainly going to add to the intense pressure he’s already under.

Perhaps it’s time for everyone to take a reality pill on this player.

As one long-time scout told me, “He’s a #2 cornerback, not a number #1.”

And that is fine. You obviously need two good starters.

Milliner probably was picked a little higher than he should have been in last year’s draft because it was such a weak cornerback class.

Milliner looks like he can be a solid player, but probably not a superstar.

It might be time to lower the expectation bar a tad, and just let him do his thing, and stop with the comparisons and hyperbole.

Colon a key for Jets 07.27.14

Cortland- Jets right guard Willie Colon can’t wait to get out on the practice field.

And he’s close.

He’s almost done rehabilitating his surgical knee, and was actually in full pads today in practice, but didn’t do much.

Colon desperately wants to get practice reps with his new partner on the right side of the line, tackle Breno Giacomini.

“Chemistry is huge on the offensive line,” Colon said. “He’s got a thick Boston accent, I have to get used to it (laughed).”

Not only did Colon have to deal with a knee issue the last few months, but had arm surgery after the season.

“The arm is fine – I’m lifting what I want to lift,” Colon said.

Considering he had to rehab two different injuries, it goes without saying this wasn’t an easy off-season for Colon.

“It’s been mental grind,” Colon said. “The key is not giving up on yourself.”

And the Jets hope they are rewarded for not giving up on Colon.

A healthy Colon can help the Jets a great deal – while he needs to cut down on penalties, he’s a road-grading guard who gets a lot of movement in the running game.


Can Jason Babin help the Jets? 07.25.14

Cortland – Earlier this week, the Jets signed pass rusher Jason Babin, who has made a number of stops around the NFL.

When addressing concerns about his age (34), Rex Ryan gave a very blunt answer.

“I know he’s 34 years old, but quite honestly, if he was 30 years old we wouldn’t have seen him,” Ryan said. “He would have been where he was.”

It’s hard to be more frank than that. If he was 30, he’d likely still be on the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have decided to go younger at Babin’s spot with Andre Branch.

Over the course of the summer and preseason, we will see what Babin has left.

The best way to describe him is as “a professional pass rusher.” He knows how to get to the quarterback

“I think the first thing that jumps out about Babin is, obviously the production he has had throughout his career as a pass rusher, and he has a relentless motor,” Ryan said.

Babin might not run the 4.62 forty he ran coming out of Western Michigan, but he has a lot pass rushing tools in his shed. He understands the art of pass rushing.

What an arm 07.25.14

Cortland – What I’m about the write has nothing to do with the Jets’ quarterback situation, just an observation about Michael Vick.

What an arm!

He threw a deep out to Stephen Hill in Cortland today, and it was like the ball came out of a rocket launcher.

With a flick of the wrist, this guy can toss a ball 50 yards, like it’s nothing.

Rex Ryan talked recently about the rare natural gifts of this player.

Remember, this is a guy who ran a 4.33 forty coming of Virginia Tech, a speed which is almost unheard of for a quarterback.

It remains to be seen what he has left (we will get a better feel in games), but I have to admit, it’s fun watching this guy throw.

And it’s only fair to point out that Geno Smith also has a very good arm.






Decker loves Ryan’s coaching style 07.24.14

Eric Decker loves Rex Ryan’s coaching style.

“He’s amazing,” said Decker. “His personality, coming in you see it a lot on TV, but what you see is what you get and that is great.”

Decker likes how Ryan takes care of his player’s bodies so they don’t get worn out on the practice field.

“He definitely takes care of his guys,” Decker said. “He is going to do whatever he can to make us comfortable and to make us confident. He’s the ultimate player’s coach, he is going to take care of us and get us fired up and ready to play. That’s a good balance. You want to play for that coach, because he takes care of you and he respects you.”

That is definitely a strong suit of the Jets’ coach. He doesn’t run his players into the ground by overworking them, and this helps keep them fresh on game day.

Classy move by Rex 07.24.14

Cortland – Rex Ryan did a very nice thing today.

He opened his press conference by congratulating Cortland Standard reporter Tom Vartanian on losing 120 pounds.

It should be noted, that over the last year, since the Jets last trip to Cortland, Ryan has been a big help to Vartarian in his battle to lose the weight. They have been in contact via text, and Rex’s words helped motivate him.

As we all know, Ryan has done a fantastic job losing weight over the last few years, dropping a reported 130 pounds.



In great shape 07.23.14

Cortland – The Jets look like a team that is collectively in very good shape.

“This is the first year that I’ve ever been where the entire football team passed the conditioning test.” said Rex Ryan.  “Not one guy (didn’t pass) the conditioning test. We came in great shape.”

I stood around for a couple of hours, and watched a lot of players checking in to the dorms at Cortland, and it looked like a number of Jets had dropped some weight from last year.

From a conditioning standpoint, the Jets look like they are in a good spot right now.

In a sea of predictions, rook offers some sage advice 07.23.14

Cortland- Some Jets players have made playoff predictions.

At SUNY-Cortland on Wednesday, safety Calvin Pryor was asked if the Jets are a playoff team, and the rookie from Louisville wasn’t ready to go there yet.

“With the talent that we have on this team, I definitely think we are capable of having a playoff season, but we have to go out there and prove it,” Pryor said. “We have to go out there and play Jets football and win football games. And then once we prove that we can win football games, we can take the next step.”

Sage advice from a 22-year-old rookie.

****The Jets Confidential Training Camp Preview issue is on news stands, or you can grab a subscription (1-800-932-4457, M-F, 9-5). You don’t want to miss this issue, loaded with tons of good stuff on Gang Green.





Geno Smith’s transformation 07.23.14

Cortland – Seeing Geno Smith today in Cortland, one thing is pretty clear – he is so much bigger and stronger than he was a year ago.

Last year, with a limited off-season workout program following the draft, he was a little on the skinny and underdeveloped side during his rookie season.

It’s a tribute to his toughness and will that he made it through last season without missing any time, considering he was a undersized, and in dire need of extensive weight room work, stuff you can’t do during the season.

This year, after an entire NFL off-season workout program, he’s a rock, much better equipped physically to handle the wear-and-tear and pounding that one takes as an NFL quarterback.

It’s quite an impressive transformation, like one of those “before-and-after” ads you see on television.


****Don’t forget to pick up a copy of the Jets Confidential Training Camp Preview Issue on news stands now. Just the good stuff.


NFL teams getting nice financial bump 07.21.14

According to Daniel Kaplan of sportsbusinessdaily.com, NFL teams are getting a nice increase in television revenue in 2014.

“Each NFL team will get a 20 percent increase in national television money this year compared with 2013 — up $27 million — as a result of the new TV contracts that commence next month, according to sources who have seen the internal figures,” wrote Kaplan for sportsbusinessdaily.com. “Over the following two seasons, the increases will total an additional $23 million per club, at a minimum.

“That means by 2016, each NFL team will bring in at least $181 million from national TV alone — more than enough by itself for teams to cover their salary cap expenses.”


***The new issue of Jets Confidential Magazine is on news stands. A must-read for Jets fans. Don’t miss out.

Rex and David Harris 07.21.14

Rex Ryan took umbrage with Jets inside linebacker David Harris not being listed in the NFL Network’s Top 100 players poll.

“David Harris is the most underrated player in the league,” Ryan told the Daily News. “You could have a top 100… and he’s not even mentioned. And I’m like, ‘What?!’”

For Harris not to be listed in the Top 100, is another case-in-point as to why the polling process used to determine the list needs to be changed.

Harris had a terrific season last year. He’s instinctive, fundamentally sound linebacker who makes a lot of plays.

Perhaps his soft-spoken, low-key nature, in an era of  “selfies,” hurts him when it comes to notoriety.


***The Jets Confidential Training Camp Preview Issue is on news stands. It’s loaded with great Jets info, the perfect primer to get you ready for training camp. So grab one on a NY-NJ-CT news stand or by subscription by calling 1-800-932-4447 (M-F, 9-5).




NFL hires Matt Birk 07.10.14

Former Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens center MATT BIRK has been named director of football development, the National Football League announced today.

Birk, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, was a standout center for the Vikings and Ravens from 1998-2012, concluding his career by helping Baltimore to a victory in Super Bowl XLVII. He spent the 2013 season working as an NFL-NFLPA appeals officer.

In his new role, Birk will assist in developing the game at all levels of the sport, from players to coaches to front office personnel. He will also assist in the administration of NFL game day operations.

Birk will guide the continued evolution of the Scouting Combine and Regional Combines as well as the annual all-star games for aspiring NFL players, such as the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game.

“I’m very excited to begin this next chapter of my football career,” says Birk, who becomes the eighth former player to take a job at the NFL office, joining Merton Hanks, Dwight Hollier, Patrick Kerney, James Thrash, David Tyree, Troy Vincent and Charles Way. “It’s a real honor for me to be entrusted with developing the game in so many different ways.”

A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, Birk will play a leading role in the continuing evolution and emergence of the Career Development Symposium, oversee the Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Fellowship program and NFL-NCAA Future Football Coaches Academy initiative.

“Matt’s experience as a terrific NFL player, a model citizen in his community and a reputation as a forward-thinking leader make him ideally suited for this role,” said NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations TROY VINCENT. “There is no doubt he will continue to make a positive impact on our game and be a trusted advocate for those who play and coach at every level.”

Birk, who will also serve as a liaison for the Football Operations department on the international development of the game and assist in further strengthening the NFL High School Player Development program, will be based at NFL headquarters in New York.

A graduate of Harvard University with a degree in economics, Birk was the recipient of the 2011 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award for his excellence on and off the field, including his commitment to emphasizing the importance of education through his H.I.K.E. Foundation (hope, inspiration, knowledge and education).

Birk and his wife, Adrianna, are the parents of six children.

Chris Johnson is going to platoon, whether he likes it or not 07.03.14

Chris Johnson did a media tour this week, and said something that created some headlines.

“Once the season starts and once we’re playing and I’m doing my thing, I’m pretty sure if I’m making plays they’re going to want to keep handing the ball off to me,” Johnson told NFL.com. “If they want me to continue making plays, I’m pretty sure I can’t do that if I’m on the sideline.”

Johnson is going to be part of a running back rotation. End of story. Chris Ivory is one of the NFL’s best power backs. Bilal Powell is underrated. It doesn’t matter what Johnson wants to do. That is irrelevant.

He will have to get used to being on the sidelines more than he ever was in Nashville.

First of all, he is coming off knee surgery, and has a lot of miles on him. No matter how well he plays, he is going to platoon.

End of story.

**Jets Confidential Magazine makes a great gift for a Jets fan. Call 1-800-932-4557 to order an ideal birthday gift for a Jets fan.

Chris Johnson interview with NFL.com comic Dave Dameshek 07.02.14

Dave Dameshek: What goals have you set for yourself this upcoming season?

Chris Johnson: Basically, I’m just trying to win. Winning, that’s the number one thing on my mind right now. I have been to the playoffs one year since I’ve been in the league so it’s a situation where it’s desperately what I’m focused on.

Dameshek: Has bringing in the new pieces made the New York Jets ready to get back in the playoffs?

Johnson: Yeah I think so. I think we brought in some guys who can make some plays and help this offense out. We already have a great defense. Those guys [will] continue to do their thing. Hopefully we can come in and help those guys out and put points on the board.

Dameshek: Can Eric Decker handle being the leading pass catcher?

Johnson: I think so. From being at practice, seeing how he works, how hard he’s practicing, and seeing how good his hands are—and all those types of things. I think he can be that guy.

Dameshek: What are your thoughts on Rex Ryan?

Dameshek: With Rex [Ryan], it’s a situation where he’s a fine guy, a player’s guy and he wants to win. It’s a situation, anytime like that who can keep all the guys going. The guys love him. The staff and organization loves him. It’s a situation where you want to give your all for a guy like that.

Dameshek: The Jets approach to the media . . .

Johnson: I feel like that’s the Jets’ way. They don’t really tell you what not to say and what not to do. At the end of the day, everybody is their own guy. The only thing they really can do is warn you and prep you on some of the type of things that can happen but at the end of the day, you’re still going to still say what you want to say anyways.

Dameshek: What advice he would share with Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel?

Johnson: Be your own man. Do what you got to do. It’s the offseason. That’s when you get time to do whatever you want to do and live your life. I’m pretty sure once the season gets here, he’ll be alright. He’s going to focus in on football. But this is the time now to where he’ll be able to hang out and do some of the things you want to do. Because once the season gets here, you really have no life. It’s just football and football.

Dameshek: Who’d win a foot-race between you or QB Michael Vick?

Johnson: Of course me.

Key Jets training camp information 06.30.14

Here is some important information on the Jets’ 2014 Training Camp for fans interested in attending . . .

*The Jets will conduct his first public practice on Thursday, July 24 at 10:00 a.m..

*SUNY Cortland will host the first 16 practices of Jets training camp, all open to the public.

*The Jets will break camp prior to their Week Three preseason game against the Giants, then return to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center for the remainder of preseason.

*The Jets will have two open practices in Florham Park on Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug 19-20.

*At each Training Camp location, fans can attend Jets Fest, featuring skills challenges, music, face painting, inflatable rides, and the Jets Shop tent filled with new merchandise for the 2014 season.

*On Saturday, Aug. 2, SUNY Cortland will host the annual Green & White practice beginning at 7 p.m.

*On Thursday, Aug. 21, the Jets will travel to Hofstra University in Hempstead, Long Island for Jets Family Night, presented by JetBlue. The practice begins at 5:30 p.m.

*Players will sign autographs for fans after practices along the fence line. However, autographs are not guaranteed for every fan in attendance.

*Admission to all Jets Training Camp events is free, but tickets are required. Fans can register and print tickets, as well as find information on parking and directions in the coming weeks on newyorkjets.com/camp.

*Practice may be cancelled or closed to the public in the case of inclement weather. Fans are encouraged to call the team’s fan line at (973) 549-4844 or visit newyorkjets.com/camp for the most up-to-date news regarding practice schedules.

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