If you took a quick glance at the right time at the Jets' practice pitch the first few weeks of training camp, it looked like a Civil War reenactment had broken out. Instead of blue and gray, though, players in green jerseys were standing around while the players in white jerseys were lying scattered around the field. Or vice versa.
What was actually happening: The players on the ground were all performing their punitive 10 pushups following a penalty call on someone in their unit. And the pushups the first few weeks of training camp practices were plentiful.
With the Jets' preseason schedule about to start Friday night at MetLife against Atlanta, fans and reporters want to know if this plethora of penalties is concerning.
"That's something we'll talk about and have to clean up," DL Leonard Williams said. "It's something we need to work on and be consistent about. It's something that comes with practice."
Head coach Todd Bowles had a measured response when asked if the penalties were "troubling."
"It's part of training camp," Bowles said. "With installs and physical play, it’s going to be part of the early process. As training camp goes on it will diminish."
As for the Green & White practice Saturday at Rutgers, he said that especially in light of the new "use of the helmet" tackling rule and the emphasis on pass interference and illegal contact, he instructed the officiating crew "on anything close to throw the flag. ... We're trying to be overcautious and calling them as opposed to not calling them. We've just got to learn from them."
It should be comforting at the moment to consider that Bowles and his staff have been effective in addressing penalties. Since he became head coach in 2015, the Jets have had 308 penalties marked off against them, tied for 20th-most in the NFL, for 2,659 yards, 21st-most in the league.
What about last year? Didn't the Jets struggle all season with penalties? Well, for the first 10 games, they did. Their 81 penalties and 739 yards were both second-most in the NFL.
But beginning with the bye week, for the final seven weeks of the regular season, the Green & White's penalty production fell to 38 flags, tied for 23rd-most, and 296 yards, 29th-most.
That's what you might expect from a young team, to struggle with penalties for a while, then get them under control.
Friday against the Falcons would be a great time for the Jets to show they're making similar penalty progress this summer.