To borrow from silver screen legend Paul Newman in the movie Cool Hand Luke: “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”
Last year, Jets first round pick Kyle Wilson had a strong start to his rookie season, but things started to go downhill during a Week 3 win at Miami. Despite the Jets victory, Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne carved up the New York secondary and picked on Wilson in particular time after time. From that game on, Wilson never seemed to perform at a very high level.
“He had some confidence issues. The Miami game down there, I think he got beat a few times and he struggled to bounce back from it,” defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said. “I think it got a little overwhelming for him.”
When asked about Pettine’s “confidence” comments, Wilson denied that was the case for his less than stellar rookie year.
“I probably just wasn’t as consistent as I wanted to be, and that was the big thing,” Wilson said. “So that’s the emphasis that I have this year, ongoing out and playing to the best of my ability, not having mental errors out there, and just perfecting my technique.”
Ryan will be leaning on Wilson heavily this year as the cornerback out of Boise State will be slotted in the nickel package. Last year Wilson was in the nickel package at times, but his inconsistent play saw him eclipsed by Drew Coleman. Now, it is once again Wilson’s responsibility and Ryan has no concerns handing him the role again.
“Kyle has that confidence back. It’s funny because you see it all the time, especially playing at corner and especially in a new system,” Ryan said. “It kind of snowballs on you. That’s why we kind of gave him a, ‘Hey, you don’t have to be there yet.’ I think, right now, he’s different. He’s carrying himself differently and I think a lot of that came with the added strength that he has. I think he got stronger in the offseason and I think he feels good about it.”
All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis spent time with Wilson during the lockout, even flying the second-year cornerback to train with him in Phoenix, AZ.
“I knew it was rough for him being a rookie. I’ve been through that stage as a rookie, as well,” Revis said. “Veteran guys did it for me when I was younger. I had Laveranues Coles, I had David Barrett, and those type of guys, so I’m just returning the favor. I’m just doing the same thing those guys did for me, for Kyle.”
Gang Green notes
Replacing Smith: One of the Jets few offseason losses was wide receiver Brad Smith, who joins AFC East rival Buffalo. Not only was Smith a wide receiver and one of the league’s best kick returners, he also ran the Jets’ Wildcat formation. In college, Smith was a quarterback at Missouri who was outstanding with his feet and his arm so he was the perfect fit in the offensive wrinkle with the Jets.
Ryan sees three potential options in the Wildcat for the Jets as they seek to replace Smith.
“[Brad] was ideal in that role, for sure, but I think LT (LaDainian Tomlinson), he’s thrown touchdowns,” Ryan said. “Then, Joe McKnight is an explosive athlete like Brad. I think he’d be good in that role. Then, [Jeremy] Kerley did that in college, so I think we have three guys [that can fill the role].”
The Deal on Strickland: Not too many new names have come into the Jets this offseason, but a new name that was an old name is Dexter Strickland, who is settling into the secondary again. Strickland was a cornerback with the Jets in 2009, left for San Diego the following year and now returns to the Jets.
Strickland overcame a reputation for injuries to post 23 tackles in a solid season.
“I think he went out to San Diego and we actually got to see him a lot on cross-over tape and he was playing at a high level. Then the smoke cleared at the end of the season and you checked the stats, here he was active for all 16 games and we knew he made it through the whole year,” Pettine said. “When Strickland’s name popped up, we jumped all over it. This is a guy who plays like a Jet. I think he really enjoyed it here. I think he even has said that he didn’t want to leave. So I think it was one of those phone calls that we had him at hello.”
Follow Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer for live updates from Jets camp. You’ll like you’re there ... without having to hear all of Rex Ryan’s cussing.