August 17, 2012
On schedule Jets departure
Camp Cortland concludes with some final tinkering
A bit more Wildcat, some fine tuning and then good-bye.
That was the agenda for the New York Jets Thursday during a closed practice that finished the Cortland portion of this year’s training camp. It was a shortened session at SUNY Cortland, lasting around an hour and 45 minutes, and the players wore shells instead of pads.
It also wasn’t the best of days for quarterback Tim Tebow, who all told went 2-for-10 with an interception and four sacks during team drills. Starter Mark Sanchez, meanwhile, went 5-for-6.
For Sanchez, it was another good performance in a camp that has seen him develop as both a player and a leader.
“On the field, the football side of it, it was the best camp I’ve been a part of,” he said. “I think we had plenty of individual time with our coaches to really work on some specific fundamentals that each coach wanted to target their player with. I think when we got in our team settings it was very competitive, and that’s what Rex (Head Coach Rex Ryan) wanted, and I think we grew a lot as a team, on and off the field. So overall (it was) a great experience, and it will help us during the season.”
As for his personal perspective on camp, Sanchez said: “It went well. Obviously some days were better than others, but overall it was probably my most consistent camp with the least amount of turnovers by far. I thought the running game looked good. I felt comfortable with my checks, I felt comfortable with throwing the ball down the field — I thought my accuracy was there.
“I thought receivers made great plays. Dustin (Keller, tight end) really stands out to me as having a great camp. And now it’s a matter of getting guys healthy and moving on. But overall I think we all did well.”
With Offensive Coordinator Tony Sparano joining the organization in the off-season and installing a new system, Camp Cortland was a continuation of the Organized Team Activities, or OTAs, in the spring. It was a learning process for everyone involved.
“Mastering the calls, really speaking the language, has been huge for us,” Sanchez said. “We kind of turned the corner midway through camp, where guys were really starting to understand and speak the language back to Coach Sparano and understand what he was getting at with our meetings.
“He always made sure to show us good plays and bad plays each day, so it’s not like he was yelling at us all the time,” he added of film sessions. “Unfortunately some days there were more bad plays than good plays but we hit that point during camp where I think we’re starting to realize that he’s yelling for us, not just at us.”
WILDCAT PROGRESS: Tebow was asked how things are progressing with the Wildcat and said that “Some things are going really well. Obviously the more reps you get, the more comfortable you are with all the backs, the line, all different checks and such. I feel like it’s going pretty well.
“Probably rhythm and timing, learning the offense,” he said when the subject of his biggest areas of improvement came up. The play-action drops and under-center drops. I know it feels like I always say that, but it’s a big deal when you’re used to doing other things and that’s key. It gives you accuracy, timing, anticipation, all those things.
“I feel pretty good (about camp overall). As an offense, individually I feel good. We’ve got a long way to go — I have a long way to go — but I feel like we’ve improved every day. I feel like we had a good day today to finish it off, and now we’ll look forward to Saturday night, to go and play the Giants.”
HIGH EXPECTATIONS: Veteran linebacker Bart Scott said Wednesday that the expectation in the Jets locker room is for Sanchez to “take the next step into being one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the league.” Asked about that Thursday, Sanchez first laughed and said “Thanks, Bart, no pressure.”
He then addressed the situation seriously, saying “That’s nothing new around here, and each year as a quarterback in any organization, you’ve got to get better and learn from your mistakes the previous year. One of the biggest things to come back from last year was the turnovers, and Coach Sparano puts me in a good position. He makes sure that he’s pushing Coach Sanjay (Lal, wide receivers coach) to push the wideouts to get guys open, to give me an outlet, and we’re really pushing the guys up front to protect and give me time to throw.
“It’s my job to deliver it, be the trigger man that this team needs, and I’m ready to do that. I’m excited about our team, and our potential. You’ve got to think that, to play like that; as soon as you step on the field you have to be the baddest guy out there — the toughest, the best, the most accurate, and you’ve got to want to win. And I think we have a lot of guys like that, so that’s good for us.”
“I don’t want to put a number out there where you rank them, but I feel great about Mark,” Ryan said. “He’s got all the tools, he’s got a great grasp of the system, and now he has experience, and that you can’t buy. He’s more experienced with coverages, disguises, all that kind of stuff.”
GOOD BODY LANGUAGE: Sanchez was also asked about the change in his demeanor, his overall attitude and the way he carries himself on the field in terms of body language and self-expression. “I think a lot of that comes from experience,” he said. “Being in those situations before, you know that when you throw an interception in practice you have to practice what you’re going to do during the season. If you start pouting and put your head down in practice, it’s gonna happen at MetLife Stadium or somewhere on the road. Look away, gather yourself for a couple of seconds and come right back. If you inspire the guys in the huddle, let them know you made a mistake and move on, then that will be your habit, so that’s what I try to do.”
“Anticipating those dogs days of camp, I was really proud of doing that because you compete with those dog days with your energy and show guys that you can’t take days off. And I think that I really made it a point to try to do that this year.”
FINAL QB STATS: With credit to the New York Post’s Brian Costello, Sanchez went 94-for-180 (52.2 percent) with five passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown, seven interceptions and was sacked 20 times during the Cortland portion of camp while backup Tebow went 53-for-109 (48.6 percent) with two passing touchdowns, three rushing touchdowns, three interceptions and 29 sacks.
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