FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — A look at what’s happening around the New York Jets:
1. Tighter ship: There’s a new coaching staff and a new way of doing things at One Jets Drive. There’s a level of accountability that didn’t exist under the previous staff. If a player screws up, he will hear about it — and it will be loud, particularly in Gregg Williams’ defensive room.
The holdovers from the Todd Bowles era are reluctant to make comparisons, in part because of their affinity for Bowles. They genuinely liked the guy even though the results on the field were awful. That said, it’s impossible not to acknowledge the stark differences.
“It kind of forces you to play at a higher level,” safety Rontez Miles said of the current culture. “I love it. Ain’t nobody sneaking past.”
Asked about last season, Miles said, “I wouldn’t say it wasn’t the case, but it wasn’t enforced as much as it is now. I feel like sometimes the foot got taken off the pedal, you know what I mean? I feel like this year is all gas, no brakes.”
Defensive end Henry Anderson made a couple of mistakes the other day in practice, and he knew what was coming: a rough session in the film room.
“You never want to be up on the board, getting called out,” he said, knowing he was about to become that guy.
Everybody loves the coach Adam Gase/Williams way because it’s new, and players will embrace new because … well, they have no choice. Eventually, some players will get tired of it, which is human nature. For now, though, it’s the right mentality for the Jets, who need to be kicked in the rear after years of mediocrity.
2. Another big move? New general manager Joe Douglas found a new center, coaxing Ryan Kalil, 34, out of retirement. Now, fans are wondering, could Douglas strike again and swing a trade for disgruntled Washington Redskins left tackle Trent Williams? Now that would be a bold, all-in move for the Jets.
Frankly, I’d be surprised if Douglas gives up a premium draft choice for Williams, 31, who is one of the best in the game. He would be an upgrade over Kelvin Beachum, but the Jets can live with Beachum because he’s a solid pass-protector. If Douglas has one card up his sleeve, he should save it for a cornerback — a much bigger need than left tackle.
3. Center of attention: The Jets are getting a big personality in Kalil, one of the most beloved players in Carolina Panthers history. Kalil, who once made a spoof training video with fellow USC alum Will Ferrell, shook up the organization in 2012 when he bought a full-page ad in The Charlotte Observer before the season and proclaimed, “Why the Carolina Panthers will win Super Bowl XLVII.”
They finished 7-9. He probably shouldn’t buy ad space in the New York papers.
This is going back a long time, but the Kalil acquisition reminds me of 2004, when the Jets made a big training-camp move by signing guard Pete Kendall, who was unexpectedly cut by the Arizona Cardinals. Kendall, 31, who also wasn’t shy in the spotlight, was the missing piece on the offensive line and helped the Jets to the playoffs.
4. Fun fact on Kalil: The Jets played a role in the Panthers’ drafting of Kalil in 2007. When the Jets traded up for Darrelle Revis, they sent three picks to the Panthers, including a second-rounder (59th overall), and that’s where the Panthers grabbed their future Pro Bowler.
5. Early training-camp awards:
6. The Peyton Effect: Peyton Manning’s influence on Gase shows up in nuanced ways at camp. Occasionally, you will hear a quarterback use Manning’s famous “Omaha” audible at the line of scrimmage. Also, the quarterbacks don’t wear the traditional red jerseys. Why not?
“It’s something that started in Denver,” said Gase, alluding to his time with the future Hall of Famer. “Peyton was never big on [red jerseys]. He was like, ‘Why are we wearing something different? Guys know not to hit us.’ It kind of started that way.”
7. Keyshawn says…: Former Jets star and current ESPN analyst Keyshawn Johnson visited camp the other day. He observed from the sideline, schmoozed with team officials and came away impressed by the vibe.
“It seems to me that this team is tired of losing,” Johnson told ESPN. “You can tell how they’re practicing. It seems that they’re hungry to have an explosive, breakout year.”
Johnson expects Le’Veon Bell to be the catalyst, saying there’s no reason why Bell can’t be the running back he was in 2017, the year before his season-long contract dispute.
“I think he will be,” he said. “People judge players based on statistics versus the ability and threat of them being something special. I think he’ll be something special. He may not have all the numbers, but that doesn’t mean he’s not effective.”
Interesting factoid on Keyshawn: He’s the most recent Jets’ draft pick at a skill position to make the Pro Bowl in a Jets uniform — and that was 1999. Sad, but true.
8. From the “this-makes-me-feel-old” dept.: Vincent Testaverde, the son of former Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde, signed last week with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, his dad’s first NFL team. Vincent, who finished his college career at Albany (New York) after transferring from Miami (Florida) and Texas Tech, was a toddler when his father enjoyed his signature season with the Jets in 1998.
“I went through the NFL as a first-round pick, a starter, the whole nine yards,” the elder Testaverde told ESPN. “His story is a little different. He’s starting at the very bottom. I was fortunate to play long enough and I kept my eyes open all those years and saw the guys that were starting at the bottom and were trying to make a team. I always felt for those guys and learned a lot from those guys.
“My advice [to Vincent] is, don’t take anything for granted, appreciate what you have and work hard. If you do that, when it’s your time to walk away from the game, you don’t ever have to second-guess yourself.”
Testaverde hopes to attend one of his son’s practices, but he wants to keep a low profile, not wanting to become a distraction. Naturally, he’s ecstatic.
“It’s a good feeling to see your son get an opportunity to fulfill his dreams,” he said.
9. Hey, Madden! Growing up, Miles was a huge fan of the Madden NFL video game — still is — which explains why he was bummed upon learning he wasn’t among the 74 players listed under the Jets’ player rankings.
@EAMaddenNFL I’m not even on the new madden ??? What’s really going on
— RONTEZ MILES (@RontezMiles) July 30, 2019
As it turns out, Miles is listed under the obscure free-agent section even though he never was a free agent. He was supposed to be, but his contract tolled last season because he missed significant time because of an injury.
“It’s still some B.S.,” he said.
Miles, who came up the hard way as an undrafted free agent in 2013, said it’s always a thrill to play himself in the video game. “That’s a big thing for me,” he said. The Madden folks should make the correction. After all, he’s not some rookie-come-lately.