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August 3, 2012

 

Clicking in the red zone

Goal-line session produces Jets TDs

JetsJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Defensive back Royce Adams works out on the sideline at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex during Jets camp Thursday morning.

By TOM VARTANIAN
Staff Writer

One week ago, the New York Jets were moving into their summer accommodations on the SUNY Cortland campus. On Thursday, the offense began revealing the “Tebow” package.
During the second day of goal-line drills, the offense broke through with one of its best days yet. While finding some success throughout the entire practice, it was putting the ball in the end zone where the offense shined.
Starting quarterback Mark Sanchez was up first and ran the ball for six points. The Sanchez crew scored a second time when running back Shonn Greene dove over the pile and into the end zone. Overall, the group scored two times in four tries.
Then it was Tebow Time with a twist. Prior to the four play series, head coach Rex Ryan yelled that “Tebow is live, unless he passes.” That basically meant the defense could go after the quarterback and tackle him.
On the first play, Tebow rolled left and scampered untouched for six points. On the next play, Tebow flipped a touchdown pass to Josh Baker. On the final play, the offense shifted into the Wildcat formation. Joe McKnight came in motion and Tebow faked the hand-off for a speed sweep. Keeping the ball, Tebow went straight ahead for his second rushing score and the completion of a 3-for-4 series, giving the offense a 5-for-8 day in the red zone, within the 20 yard line.
“It went great,” Sanchez said of that red zone success. “I was excited about our tempo. I was excited about our power on the goal line, the way we punched the ball in the end zone. We got Tim (Tebow) involved there which is huge. That’s a big mismatch for us, so it is fun for us.
“(He can be a weapon) all over the field, (but on the) goal line especially,” he added of Tebow. “If it is him one-on-one with a defender and a tackler, my money is on Tim. He can really run the ball, he has great vision, and he has got this will about him to put it in the end zone. That is going to help our team.”
“It was fun,” Tebow said of his goal-line series. “I feel like as an offense, we did a good job down there in short yardage and goal-line. We did some things really well, some things we have to get better at, but we’re also going against a very good defense that makes a lot of plays and I feel to have that much success shows some good signs for our offense.
“I feel like Coach (Tony) Sparano has great schemes,” he added. “We have a great offensive line. (We have) a lot of different looks with (running) backs from speed backs to power backs with Shonn (Greene) and Joe (McKnight) and other guys. I think you can have a lot of different looks down there that can keep defenses off balanced for sure.”
That led to the next obvious question, the one that everyone has wondered about since the day the Jets traded for Tebow. What would Sanchez think about driving the team the length of the field only to have Tebow finish the drive off inside the 5-yard line?
“We have got to get in the end zone, I don’t care (if I am the one playing or not),” Sanchez said.”Whatever we have to do and Coach Sparano is going to be the judge there on what exactly he wants. If that is what he wants and that is what puts it in the end zone, fine. We can drive it 99 yards and (Tebow) can run it in.
“Whatever they want me to do, you know I’m going to do it,” was Tebow’s response. “We’ll see. If that’s something they want me to do. I’ll be more than happy to do it and try to do it to the best of my ability and hopefully do a pretty good job with it.”
“I think that shows, No. 1, that he’s all in, he just wants to win,” Ryan said of Sanchez. “It’s not about him, not about me, not about this guy or that guy — it’s about us. I think he understands that as well as anybody. He’s been absolutely terrific. It’s that team mindset we’re trying to develop.
“This was Tim’s best day of camp,” he added. “That’s because we got to do a little live football. That’s when he’s going to stand out. You hear Tony (Sparano) say it all the time: ‘Run through the smoke.’ He ran through the smoke and there’s a 250-pound guy coming right at you. You saw what he can bring to the table today in the short-yardage/goal-line situation. When we’re doing more Wildcat situations, we’ll all be excited that Tim’s here.”
Another player really made an impact today in the battle for the No. 2 spot behind Greene in the rushing game. Second-year back Bilal Powell out of Louisville had a nice burst up the middle in team drills.
“I really like how the guys have been running the ball, especially Shonn and Bilal Powell,” Ryan said. “Joe McKnight has done some good things, as has Terrance Ganaway.
“Powell has really been impressive,” he continued. “He’s been picking up the blitzes well. When you look at his history, it took him a couple of years to get going in college and then had a monster year. Maybe he’s ready for that big year.”
Each runner is obviously different and Ryan knows that.
“It is an area of strength for us because the guy does bring something different to the plate,” Ryan explained. “Shonn has already proved that he can be more than productive in this league. He is catching the ball better and he is doing a better job in pass protection.
“Joe McKnight has play-making skills,” he continued. “He is a dynamic speed back and he is stronger than he has been in the past. Powell is just a different guy this year. He had some injuries last year, but he still picked up things. He’s on top of his game and he is showing that skill set that running back coach (Anthony Lynn) and (General Manager) Mike Tannenbaum saw in him coming out of college. Ganaway is a great kid. He can fill in a fullback, tailback. He’s squares his shoulders to the line of scrimmage well and can catch the ball.”

 

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