Countdown to Takeoff
Alas, the New York Jets 2006 Training Camp is nearly upon us. Before you grab your favorite Jets gear and blitz the practice facilities at Hofstra University, you must first become aquatinted with your new squad. There are many fresh faces in and around Weeb Ewbank Hall this season – 13 coaches alone - so it is essential that you brush up on your homework prior to camp's inception. With so much happening both on and off the field, we feel that it's a good idea to provide you, our faithful fans, with some helpful information. Leave no fan behind!
Since 1968, the Jets have called Hempstead home. In 1974, Weeb Ewbank Hall was constructed, making it the official headquarters of the Green & White. This site has been the Jets home ever since - through renovations, additions, subtractions and more. The Jets are eyeing a New Jersey exodus sometime in 2008, when they pick up and move their headquarters to Florham Park, roughly 50 miles west of today's current locale.
Whereas most rookies have reported to camp a week early (per order of new head coach Eric Mangini), the veterans will present themselves just days before camp's start. The 90 players currently on the roster will compete through two-a-days, scrimmages and drills, just as done in the past. Additionally Jets fans, because it is his first training camp as head coach, there is one aspect to keep in mind at all times: expect the unexpected. Coach Eric Mangini comes from a history of strict guidelines and tremendous success. Proven by the plentiful laps issued in June's mini-camp, his punishment of choice will undoubtedly be a common theme.
Flanking Mangini will be two new comrades as well. Defending Jets Nation will be former linebackers coach Bob Sutton. Though this year will mark Sutton's seventh season with the Jets, it is his first as defensive coordinator. Sutton's impressive past includes nine successful seasons as Army's head coach in the 1990's, so this defensive unit will be a disciplined group
Leading the Jets offensive attack is first year coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. The son of legendary coach Marty Schottenheimer, the new Jets OC is just 32 years old, yet he has seven seasons of NFL coaching experience under his belt. Last season as quarterbacks coach in San Diego, Schottenheimer led an extremely potent attack. In fact, his work against Mangini's New England defense last season was what initially caught the new head coach's eye when planning his offense's future. In addition to Schottenheimer's valuable NFL experience thus far, the tutelage he received in college was invaluable. The former Kansas quarterback transferred to the University of Florida as a teenager to soak up as much of Steve Spurrier's offensive genius as possible.
Upon first view of the actual players on your 2006 Jets squad, you may initially react with a few double takes, as 40 of 90 on the current roster are new to the scene. Ten of those players are part of the popular 2006 Draft Class that gained supreme respect this off-season from nearly every NFL critic. As you know, tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson and center Nick Mangold were part of the first round, frontline reconstruction this off season in an attempt to supply the backfield with dependable security. This training camp will prove to be their official launch pad, as both will probably be opening day starters at their respective positions. The draft class was also highlighted with valuable reinforcement to the offense in former Oregon quarterback Kellen Clemens, "slash" player Brad Smith, and speedster Leon Washington.
To enhance an inconsistent 2005 defense, key role playing defenders were brought in to fit coach Mangini's and Sutton's meticulous puzzle. Veterans Matt Chatham and Brad Kassell were signed on to bolster the linebacker corps – a vital aspect of a unit which will play a lot more 3-4 than in years past. Ohio State Buckeye Anthony Schlegel was selected in the third round of the draft, and he could see some valuable time at ILB in his first season. Schlegel's ambitious attitude and leadership is exactly what Mangini is looking for in his players. In addition, two starting show stoppers in last year's Super Bowl were added to fortify both the front line and secondary. Kimo von Oelhoffen, a member of the World Champion Steelers, will provide depth along the line while Andre Dyson ( Seattle) will attempt to fill the void at cornerback. Longtime Jets corner Ray Mickens has resurfaced in green after a year with the Browns to add some leadership to the young secondary as well.
As if the triple digit temperatures haven't been hot enough this summer, Coach Mangini and General Manager Mike Tannenbaum have supplied additional heat around Jets Nation with calls for open competition at quarterback. There are four able suitors willing to bend over backwards for the signal caller duties. Will veteran Chad Pennington return to form following a second shoulder surgery in as many years? Patrick Ramsey, a veteran acquired in free agency, is a strong-armed passer who displayed good tools while in Washington. Don't rule out Kellen Clemens, a second round selection from Oregon, who shined brightly at the team's mini-camp just one month ago. Battler Brooks Bollinger has remained consistent throughout his four-year career and proved valuable last season coming off the bench.
In addition to the edge-of-your-free-seat action, the Jets Training camp offers much more than on-field action. Generation Jets Fest is always a hit with the next generation of Jets fans, equipped with interactive inflatable stations and a carnival-like atmosphere. By just visiting the training camp link on the official Jets website, you will see the many promotional days the 2006 camp offers.
In a franchise first, the Jets will host an open practice at the Meadowlands to all fans, free of charge, on August 5 th. Seating and parking will be free, with Jets Fest and concessions open as well. For those who cannot make it to a game this season, this is the perfect opportunity to see your favorite Jets players up close and see what goes on behind the scenes.
Here are some more notable camp happenings:
- Dewayne Robertson will be heavily relied upon this season. In order to effectively master a 3-4 defense, the defensive tackle position must maintain a dominating presence. The new Coach loves competition, so the addition of veteran von Oelhoffen could bring out the best in Robertson.
- The question in the offensive backfield isn't limited to quarterback. The fullback slot is readily available as well. The Jets drafted TE Jason Pociask from Wisconsin, and he thrived in college as a tremendous blocking tight end. Keep tabs on him to see if he bounces back and fourth from the backfield to the line. Fourth-year Jet B.J. Askew may be the favorite for the starting nod while Luke Lawton appeared in four games last fall.