The Gotta-Have-Its at today's Jets practice have set the stage for the Short-Yardage-Goal-Line plays that will be the highlight of Friday's SUNY Cortland practice.
Gotta-Have-Its are that period of practice in which each quarterback and offense get a series of make-or-break plays, maybe fourth-and-10 at midfield, or first-and-goal, down by four, three seconds on the clock, no timeouts.
Today down near the goal line, the offense won the day. Mark Sanchez hit Jeremy Kerley for one TD and Bilal Powell for a second on the first two plays for the first offense vs. the first defense. Then Geno Smith came on with the twos and calmly rolled out of the pocket and threw a dart through traffic to Konrad Reuland at the goal line. The white-jerseyed offensive sideline erupted with hoots and hollers toward their green-shirted defensive brethren.
"Obviously there was a substitution error on one of them," head coach Rex Ryan said, "but Mark did a nice job down there. And then I thought Geno was impressive at the end. That last play, when you've got to have it, he scrambles and keeps his vision down the field and finds the guy open at the end, so that was impressive. Both guys I thought had a good day today."
The defensive side just took it in, made some mental notes, and started generating the friendly animus (if there is such an animal in football) for Friday's extended goal-line rematch.
"Yeah, you know, those guys, they feel like they're getting after us and they're making plays," said DT Muhammad Wilkerson, "and at the end of the day as a defense, you don't want that. So they do their trash talking when they have their days, and we do ours every day. We're just going to see tomorrow when it's real live."
Wilkerson, DE/OLB Quinton Coples and CB Antonio Cromartie seem to be leading the way as the defense's vocal veterans. Offensively, old vet but newcomer guard Willie Colon has been getting animated in practices lately.
"Coming from Pittsburgh, that defense out there is known to be bullies on the field," Colon explained. "I think this defense is trying to get that identity and is starting to get it, but the buck stops here. As an offensive lineman, you have to stand up and be boisterous and sometimes you have to bang your chest. A lot of that comes with bringing your pads and just being a ballplayer. I try to do that to the best of my ability."
Short-Yardage-Goal-Line drills are a time for that boisterousness to come out on both sides. It's really the only full-contact, take-the-ballcarrier-to-the-turf time of camp until the preseason games start. Ryan twice had said he thought his first SYGL session was going to be today but as it turns out the schedule said it's Friday morning. Then the Jets will have another SYGL session during Saturday night's Green & White Scrimmage.
"It's good to get after it live with the offense and bring down the running backs," Muhammad Wilkerson said. "And then next week we've got our first preseason game [at Detroit on Aug. 9]. So it's good we're getting into the feel of being live and getting after it." All in the name of bringing the green and the white together for the regular season that looms a little more than five weeks from now.