The Jets' summer scrimmages have undergone an evolution since the joint sessions with the Giants in Albany, N.Y., in 2004-05 under Herm Edwards and the "Green & White Game" with no fans in the stands and no tackling to the ground at Fordham in 2007 under Eric Mangini.
Head coach Rex Ryan had a vision of taking his new team to a far-off training camp to develop toughness and togetherness on his Jets, and that vision included a little something in early August that has become the annual Green & White Scrimmage.
Tonight's scrimmage at Cortland Stadium is set to kick off at 6 p.m. ET with a crowd expected to be in the high four figures and, for the first time, radio coverage by ESPN New York 98.7 FM, Bob Wischusen and Marty Lyons handling the play-by-play. There will be periods of tackling to the turf and more game-like situations. These scrimmages under Ryan have lasted in the range of 70 to 75 minutes.
To get you ready for your G&W experience, here's a trip down memory lane for the first four years of scrimmages under Ryan:
Aug. 6, 2009 at Cortland (attendance: 6,100)
The big attraction for the first scrimmage at Cortland was the duel between Kellen Clemens and first-round pick Mark Sanchez for the starting QB job. Clemens had 5-of-7 passing for 26 yards, Sanchez — playing with the second offense and, for the first time in camp, with the ones — went 9-of-15 for 70 yards, but neither generated a touchdown. Only QB Erik Ainge did, driving the third offense to WR Paul Raymond's 15-yard end-around score.
RB Thomas Jones was held to 15 yards on seven carries, rookie Shonn Greene on a sore ankle to 25 yards on six rushes. Defensively, said Ryan, "I thought there was some good tackling out there. The three guys that really jumped out at me were [David] Harris, [Kenwin] Cummings and Lito Sheppard. I thought our 'backers did a nice job of making some good open-field tackles."
Aug. 7, 2010 at Cortland (attendance: 9,500)
The offense began this Green & White Scrimmage with a bang as Sanchez hit RB LaDainian Tomlinson on a straight go-route past Harris for a 70-yard touchdown. RB Chauncey Washington added a late TD run.
Veteran WR Santonio Holmes and rookie RB Joe McKnight made some big plays for the offense. LB Jamaal Westerman flashed for the second "D" with a sack and a tackle of McKnight in the backfield among his big plays.
"I'm excited about where we are as a football team," Ryan said. "Last year I think we went two hours before we scored. We had to stop it on cuts. This offense is better. They'll be able to beat you different ways this year."
Aug. 15, 2011, at Houston
Ryan juggled his summer schedule due to the late resolution of the lockout and the Jets' entire training camp being held at the Atlantic Health Training Center. "Our Green & White Scrimmage will be when we play Houston," he said. "We're down practices and I never thought it was appropriate. So we'll just have it in our Houston game."
The Jets lost that Monday night game at Reliant Stadium, 20-16, as Chris Ogbonnaya scored a TD at the two-minute warning after Nick Folk gave the visitors a 16-13 lead on a 40-yard field goal. Mark Sanchez played a quarter and completed six of seven, then Greg McElroy worked the last three quarters and went 23-of-39 for 208 yards and a TD pass to Patrick Turner. LB Garrett McIntyre had two sacks and LB Josh Mauga added a third sack and an interception.
Aug. 4, 2012, at Cortland (attendance: 9,420)
In the "first half" the defense dominated as LBs Calvin Pace and Bart Scott and DE Muhammad Wilkerson held Shonn Greene to 5 yards on six carries and the first and second defenses gave up just two first downs and no drives across midfield (with most series starting at the 30). The first offense played without C Nick Mangold, in London to watch his weightlifting sister perform at the Olympics.
Mark Sanchez generated one touchdown on the first drive of the "second half" on 7-of-9 passing. Then on the last drive of the night rookie Matt Simms found WR Raymond Webber for a 31-yard score. Tim Tebow had four rushes for 14 yards and went 0-for-2 passing.
"Did I expect the defense to dominate the scrimmage? I did," Ryan said, "just because we had a lot of guys out and the defense doesn't really care who they face. They're going to go out and play."
Tonight it's time for the 2013 Jets team to come out and play for its largest crowd of camp and get one day closer to the start of the season.