Dan Leberfeld's Blog

Q-and-A with Jets TE coach Jimmie Johnson 08.24.16

Q)does Jace Amaro’s handsize create a challenge?

Jimmie Johnson: I don’t know what hand size is.

Q)He has very small hands . . .

Johnson: He’s done a good job catching the ball regardless of the size of his hands.

Q)What does Brandon Bostick bring to the table?

Johnson: Bostick is a big, athletic body. He’s strong. He’s shown so far to be pretty good in the running game and with his pass protection. He’s a reliable pass-catching tight end. What I mean by that is when the ball comes his way, he catches it.

Q)Is Kellen Davis one of the best blocking tight ends in the league?

Johnson: Without a doubt. Without a doubt. That is something he does very well.

Q)What makes him so good as a blocker?

Johnson: He’s strong. This is Year Nine for him. He’s seen a lot. He’s intelligent. He recognizes fronts. He understands what they are trying to do up front.

Q)How is Wes Saxton doing?

Johnson: He’s trying to work his way back in. He’s coming off his injury. He was doing great prior to getting hurt in terms of running routes and catching the ball. He’s another guy, like the rest of [the young guys] who needs to improve with their in-line blocking and pass protection. Prior to getting hurt he was doing good, he was doing real good.
It’s good to have him back. We are trying to work him in slowly. He’s back, but he’s not back. You know when you come back from an injury you are trying to gain some confidence and feel good about it. But it’s good to have him back out there running around.


Karl Dorrell thinks the best is yet to come for this sleeper 08.24.16

Florham Park – Jets wide receiver coach Karl Dorrell thinks the Jets are getting rookie Charone Peake at the right time.

After a career at Clemson where Peake was buried on the depth chart early, and banged up late, Dorrell thinks the Jets are getting Peake at the right time.

“I’m just happy we have him,” Dorrell said. “He’s a guy that I have always targeted. I think he can help us. I like his size and his speed and I thought he had great potential. I thought he had a rough start in terms of a college career and I think we are going to get his best football right now, so we are very fortunate to get him.”

Peake is 6-2, 209 pounds with 4.37 speed and has the wingspan of an aircraft carrier.

Peake was a seventh-round pick of the Jets in the 2016 draft. Based on how he’s looked this summer, he probably should have gone a lot sooner.

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Some observations from Jets camp 08.23.16

With no Jets practice today, here are some more random thoughts from Monday’s practice . . .

*Veteran running back Matt Forte (30) still has impressive foot quickness. In a one-on-one drill, he showed good “quicks,” with a stutter-step move to cut away from linebacker David Harris and haul in a pass.

*Defensive end Leonard Williams showed his enormous potential on a play early in the team period of practice. He beat center Nick Mangold into a gap, and stopped Forte for a loss in the backfield. Williams moves extremely well for a 302-pound athlete.

*Of all the Jets’ outside linebackers, Columbia’s Josh Martin is probably the best in coverage. He had a near pick on Christian Hackenberg, but dropped it. Now the drop wasn’t a good thing, but the quickness in his backpedal to get into position to make the play was impressive.

*From the Captain Obvious department – super-quick rookie receiver Jalin Marshall looks like he’s going to be quite a weapon on bubble screens.

*Jets reserve center Wesley Johnson has excellent mobility. On a screen to running back Bilal Powell, Johnson had a block 20 yards down the field on a linebacker.

*Reserve running back Antone Smith has impressive speed and quickness. He had a run up the middle where he looked like he was shot out of cannon. He’s also a very tough cover for linebackers in the passing game.

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There is no Hackenberg mystery! 08.22.16

Headline – “Why are Jets fueling the mystery around Christian Hackenberg?”

What mystery?

He’s a project quarterback who is going to need a couple of years to fix his mechanics. He’s not going to be repaired this summer.

“It’s hard to change guys completely mechanically in a preseason situation like this,” Jets offensive coordinator Chan Gailey said recently. “You let him do what got him here, and then you take a full off-season if you think there needs to be some changes and that’s where you implement real changes if you think it’s necessary.

“I think that in general it takes thousands of reps to change a habit. So if you’re going to change a habit you need thousands of off-season reps. You don’t need a few hundred throws a week. That’s a big difference.”

So why are some people obsessed with him playing this preseason?

Chill out.

The Jets believe that since he’s still a very young quarterback (21), that with some really solid coaching from Gailey and QB coach Kevin Patullo over the next couple of years, they will have something down the road.

“We feel we got a good player and we’re going to work on him being a better player,” Todd Bowles said after the draft. “He has tools to work with.”

Right now they need to decide who their #2 QB is going to be – Geno Smith or Bryce Petty, so it’s more important for those two to see extensive preseason game action, not Hackenberg.

Will Hackenberg play in the third or fourth preseason games? Maybe.

But if he doesn’t, it’s not a big deal.

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Some quick observations from Sunday’s Jets practice 08.21.16

Florham Park – Here are some of my observations from the Jets’ Sunday practice . . .

*LB Darron Lee’s coverage range was on full display today covering TE Zach Sudfeld down the deep middle of the field, staying in his hip pocket the entire time. He also flashed as a pass rusher beating an offensive tackle off the edge.

*A sleeper in the Jets’ guard derby is Craig Watts. He showed terrific mobility, pulling out into the left flat, and locking up a defender on a screen to Bilal Powell

*WR Chandler Worthy continues to make himself tough to cut. He beat Buster Skrine on a fly-route, and also hauled in a deep out from Ryan Fitzpatrick. On the deep out, he ran a great route at just the right depth.

*TE Brandon Bostick is quietly having a solid camp. He’s taking advantage of the reps he’s getting due to the injury to Wes Saxton. Bostick has 4.5 speed and really gets after defenders as a blocker.

*You have to respect the will of CB Bryson Keaton. First he got a contract after a rookie mini-camp tryout. And now in training camp, he’s making a lot of plays on the ball. He’s doing everything he can to get Mike Maccagnan’s attention.


Geno isn’t “losing it” 08.17.16

The New York Post headline was a little strong.

They ran a Geno Smith story yesterday with the headline – “Geno Smith is losing it at Jets camp.”

I’m there everyday, and I don’t think that’s the case. He had several nice throws in Wednesday’s practice, including a deep out to TE Jace Amaro.

Has he been perfect? Far from it, but he’s done plenty of good things.

And he had a terrific back-shoulder TD pass to wide receiver Charone Peake in the Jets’ first preseason game, a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

I don’t think Smith is losing it at all.

I think he’s just decided to tell the media to “get lost.”

He’s not speaking the press right now, and this fact is perhaps contributing to headlines of this nature.

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Easier to evaluate in real football action 08.11.16

When it comes to player evaluations, Jets coach Todd Bowles values training camp.

However, he values what players do in preseason games even more.

“You want to see guys play under the lights,” Bowles said.

So tonight’s Jets-Jaguars preseason game is of great import to many players attempting to make Gang Green’s roster.

For instance, the Jets’ coach will be looking closely at the battle between Brent Qvale and Ben Ijalana at right tackle. They are platooning at the spot with Breno Giacomini (back) on the PUP list. So who is ahead Qvale or Ijalana?

“Preseason games will determine that,” Bowles said. “They’ve been doing some good things in practice, but we’ll get to play Thursday and the next three weeks after that and evaluate them.”

Another group Bowles will focused on like a laser are the punt returners. That job is up for grabs, and there is only so much you can determine in practice since there is no tackling.

“All of them have burst and take off, but there aren’t many people running down to hit them, so we’ll get a better look at them on Thursday and next week,” Bowles said.

Along with individual position battles, Bowles would like to see where his team is at overall. Some real tackle football will give him get a better feel than training camp practices.

“It’s good to see us play against somebody else, but we still have some kinks to work out,” Bowles said. “It will be interesting to see how far we have come and how far we have to go.”

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Terrific late-round value for Jets 08.10.16

I know it’s still early, and the Jets haven’t played any preseason games yet, but rookie WR Charone Peake looks like a potential late-round steal.

Watching him in mini-camps, and for a couple weeks of training camp, to me, he looks more like a second-third round prospect than a seventh-rounder.

He’s got a nice combination of size (6-2, 209) and speed (4.37), and also has very long arms, so he can beat cornerbacks downfield with his wheels, and win jump balls as well.

He’s also a very good blocker, and looks like he should be a factor on kick/punt coverage with his speed and toughness.

In retrospect, Peake probably should have gone higher than the seventh round.

He has a lot of talent.

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Dan’s Random Thoughts from Saturday’s Practice 08.06.16

Some random thoughts from tonight’s Jets practice

*The hit of the day was CB Kevin Short nailing WR Robbie Anderson on short pass on the left side.

*One of the better coverage plays was a PD by Calvin Pryor deep down the left seam on a pass to Quincy Enunwa.

*Undrafted free agent defensive end Lawrence Thomas continues to make plays in the backfield. He’s very quick off the ball.

*One of the better passing plays in the practice was a TD from Ryan Fitzpatrick in the middle of the end zone to Enunwa. It displayed the favorable match-ups Enunwa will get on the inside with Brandon Marshall and Eric Deckout on the outside.

*Ryan Fitzpatrick said it may have been helpful to his arm not throwing this off-season.

*Leonard Williams said this is the first time since high school he’s been in the same defense two years in a row. At USC, they changed coordinators every year he was there. Coming back in the same system for the first time since Mainland High School in Daytona Beach should help him a great deal in his second NFL season.

*Bryce Petty did some good things today, but shouldn’t throw thrown into double-coverage on the goal-line to WR Jeremy Ross. The pass was picked off by CB Darryl Morris. You might throw this pass to 6-4, 225-pound Brandon Marshall, but not Ross.

*WR Titus Davis, who left the team today, was hardly getting any reps.

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Jets caught a little break on this one 08.05.16

Florham Park – As most of you know by now, there was big news at Jets camp today with Darrelle Revis and Brandon Marshall getting very chippy.

They took swings at each other, and Marshall yelled a couple nasty insults at Revis.

So this is a big story, but it likely won’t be as big as it could have been.

Why?

It’s because of something called, “The Friday news dump.”

Often times in the political world, operatives will announce negative news on Friday afternoon because it won’t get as much play.

There was once this exchange on TV show “The West Wing,” which was based on Washington politics:

Donna: Why do you do it on Friday?

Josh: Because no one reads the paper on Saturday.

And in August, a Friday news dump is even more effective. Many people are on vacation or going on vacation. In New Jersey, where the Jets train, many people head to the Jersey Shore on Friday.

So the Jets get a little bit of a break with the negative story that emanated from their camp on Friday.

Not that they “dumped” this story. They never wanted it to happen, but the bad publicity could have been a lot worse if it happened in the middle of the week.


This guy is quietly having a solid camp 08.04.16

With Breno Giacomini on the PUP list with a back injury, Jets backup right tackle Brent Qvale is getting a lot of reps with the starters.

And he’s been very consistent.

Your typical corn-fed Nebraska offensive lineman, he’s massive and tough.

Qvale plays with very good technique and is rarely on the ground.

He does a nice job of sealing the edge as a run blocker, which is very important on the right side.

When I watch Qvale practice, I see an NFL starting quality right tackle.

This was a nice undrafted free agent signing in 2014 by the former regime.

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This is a ridiculous narrative coming out of Jets camp 08.03.16

Brandon Marshall is a great player.

He’s already one of the best receivers in Jets history.

And acquiring him last year from the Chicago Bears was one of the best trades they’ve ever made.

But this narrative that he showed leadership yesterday, by punting a ball out of frustration at the end of the team’s poor practice, is ridiculous.

While you have to respect his competitiveness, and the fact that he was ticked off at how the team practiced, it’s bizarre to consider this good leadership.

You need to practice like you play, and if you punt a football out of frustration in a game, you will get flagged.

“In a game that’s a penalty so we know we can’t do it,” Todd Bowles said. “Emotion is one thing as long as you tailor it the right way.”

Personally, I don’t care that Marshall punted the ball out of frustration in practice. I think this story has been give way too much play.

But to act like this was a great display of leadership is a reach.


They should take a positive leap this year 08.02.16

Florham Park – Expect a better campaign from the Jets’ secondary this season compared to 2015.

Aside from having a lot of talent, you can see in training camp, they are much more comfortable in Todd Bowles’ defensive playbook in Year Two.

Also, this is the second season many of them are playing together, and that should help them move up the growth curve as well.

There were too many blown coverages last year by the Jets’ secondary, and a lot of that had to do with system familiarity and a lack of cohesion.

You can tell this summer, guys are much more comfortable.

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This guy has caught my eye in Jets camp 08.01.16

New Jersey – Defensive end Lawrence Thomas doesn’t get a lot of reps in practice, but when he does get on the field, he makes things happen.

The rookie free agent out of Michigan State is an athletic, explosive defensive lineman with quick feet.

Thomas was a big-time high school player who all the major programs wanted. Coming of Detroit, he was ranked as one of the top 30 recruits in the country by several services – PrepStar (No. 15), MaxPreps (No. 21), Sporting News (No. 26), 247Sports.com (No. 28) and SuperPrep (No. 30).

Due to injuries and being moved around a lot, he had a good, not great college career.

But watching him in Jets practice, his significant talent is obvious, and perhaps under the tutelage of the Jets’ outstanding defensive line coach Pepper Johnson, Thomas can finally realize his enormous potential.

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Leave Geno alone! 07.30.16

Geno Smith continues to be a lightening rod, and it’s getting a little tedious at this point.

On Thursday, he said something that’s being blown WAY out of proportion.

“It’s no disrespect to anyone, but I’m auditioning for this team and 31 other teams in the NFL,” Smith said.”The way you handle all of this says a lot about your character. I’ve got little kids back home (in South Florida) seeing how I react. Everyone will watch to see how I react. I’m not going to allow this situation, because it’s not the worst situation I’ve been in, to deter me from my ultimate goal.”

Some bloggers thought this meant he’s looking for a new job elsewhere.

That isn’t what he meant.

I’ve heard players make that comment about “auditioning for 31 other teams” more times than I can remember.

It’s the mentality you need to have in training camp.

You can’t lament your spot on the depth chart. You just need to go out there and perform well in camp and preseason games to hang around the NFL, which isn’t easy to do.

If Smith is auditioning for other teams, it’s for next off-season when he’s a free agent, not now.

He’s not going anywhere. He is the Jets #2 QB, and gives the team a terrific insurance policy in case Ryan Fitzpatrick gets hurt.

I actually think that was an impressive quote from Smith, showing how much he’s matured.

It wasn’t controversial at all.

For goodness sake, leave the guy alone already.

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Extra, Extra, read all about it 07.29.16

Florham Park – Headline – “Todd Bowles names Ryan Fitzpatrick starting quarterback.”

Stop the presses.

Extra! Extra!

Do you think they gave him $12 million guaranteed this year to compete for the starting job?

And how about the fact that Bowles said over and over this off-season that Fitzpatrick would be the starter when he returned.

How is this a story?

I don’t get this one.

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