To say Rex Ryan isn’t shy about praising his own players is an understatement. Rex wouldn’t hesitate to call Tanner Purdum the greatest long snapper he has ever coached or Matt Kroul the most talented third string center in NFL history. My personal favorite Rex-ism was calling Wayne Hunter the best backup tackle in the NFL during the 2010 season, like he had taken an inventory of all 32 teams 7th and 8th lineman and knew Hunter was the best.
Today’s press conference was a shining example as it seemed that Rex went through the entire roster in numerical order and offered everybody a “tremendous” or an “impressive” adjective. There isn’t a player on the team who hasn’t wowed the coaching staff on his return to the facility. Listen, I have no problem with Rex building up his players to the media. However, it makes sorting out who has actually been performing notably well a bit of a task.
Let’s go over what we know from OTAs and mini-camp so far -
1. Boom Not Bust – Of course it is too early to call first round pick Quinton Coples anything. However, by every indication he has been a borderline dominant presence since suiting up for the Jets in practice. A day hasn’t passed where he hasn’t came up with a sack or two. The other day he intercepted a pass and knocked another one down. More importantly, he seems to be playing with a chip on his shoulder and a high amount of energy/emotion. Nobody could ever question Coples talent, it doesn’t mean that some of us (including me) didn’t question taking him in the first round. He has a long way to go but so far, so good.
2. Young Pups – While we are talking about rookies, Demario Davis and Josh Bush have both spent time with the first defense in multiple practices, a very encouraging sign for mid-round draft picks. Both of them should be factors in passing situations. Davis is the fastest linebacker on the team and Bush is the only true free safety on the roster. If these two pan out alongside Coples, Mike Tannenbaum very well may have rebuilt his defense for the long run in a single draft.
3. O’ No – Same song every year. The offense is behind the defense. This makes even more sense this year since they are installing a new system and the wide receivers have been banged up. Is it a cause for concern? Not yet but it hasn’t been pretty out there for the Jets passing game thus far.
4. Forgotten Man – Chaz Schilens was a forgotten man by many after the Jets drafted Stephen Hill in the second round. However, he has taken advantage of extended playing time due to Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill’s injuries. Schilens has been one of the bright spots on offense and has the skill set to be a big play factor on offense.
5. Watch For ‘Em – Ellis Lankster as the #4 corner and a core special teams piece. Royce Pollard on punt returns and somebody who just may stick on the roster. Jeff Cumberland seeing a big bump in playing time. Yeremiah Bell seeing more time at free safety than he was accustomed to in Miami.