On Wednesday morning in his team meeting before the second session of Organized Team Activities (OTAs), New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles stood before his team and announced that the loser of one of the early periods of practice would end up having to run gassers. He outlined that the session in particular was going to be a two-minute drill right after special teams had their opening session, which consisted of kickoff coverage drills.
He calmly explained that if the offense couldn't get a touchdown in the two-minute drill, they would be running sprints. But if the defense let the offense get on the board, well, they would be the ones running the gassers at the end of practice.
Fast forward to about 12:15 P.M. on Wednesday and it was the defense standing on the sidelines watching wide receivers and quarterbacks and offensive linemen and everyone else sprinting across the field. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that the defense had kept the offense from putting points on the scoreboard. There was the offense, heaving and puffing as they ran one sprint after another.
Welcome to the way business is done around here for Bowles, the Jets first-year head coach. He's a disciplinarian who talks non-stop about competition and creating a no-nonsense approach about everything that his locker room does. The introduction of gassers in practice is just part of that mentality.
“The defense won that drill and that's the consequence,” linebacker Jamari Lattirmore told Metro on Wednesday. Lattimore had an interception on the fourth play of the session that led the offense to run gassers. “Competition and getting it going for the first period of the day. Keeps you from coming out relaxed. Gets things going a bit. It was the first thing we did for offense and defense. This is my first rodeo with it. I kind of like it, it's not bad. There will be a point in time where we'll have to run it.”
That point hasn't come yet as the defense has won the first two sessions up for grabs in as many sessions of OTAs.
Bowles introduced the concept on Tuesday to his team, again during the team meeting before the start of OTAs. The concept is simple: Every day there will be a different session that will be up for grabs and the head coach will always announce it during the team meeting that morning. The winning unit of the session won't have to run the gassers at the end of practice.
A couple years ago under former head coach Rex Ryan, the unit that won not just a session but the entire practice session as determined by the coaching staff got to wear black jerseys for the following day of training camp. The defense was so dominant that year that the offense became demoralized in the competition for the black jerseys. Bowles' system at least offers a concept of a bit more level-ground; after all this is only a single session and not an entire practice that has to be won.
There's a little extra intensity in these two sessions, the players say, and while the sample size is small it helps up the level of practice.
Needless to say, the offense wasn't too happy about how things played out and the extra running, which comes at the very end of practice when all the other work is done. The players are already tired – they don't want to do any more running.
Especially not with the triumphant defense looking on, quietly rubbing it in.
“The defense is 2-0 right now,” tight end Jace Amaro told Metro. "It teaches you got to be ready for the situation in the game and to bring your A-game in practice and to always compete. I like it.”