“That was our goal,” Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said last night. “We need to get fast and athletic. The league is evolving that way to be a pass-first league. We felt like we were getting, for lack of a better phrase, a little dinosaur-ish inside. We felt we needed to increase our athleticism and team speed.”
Pettine appeared at “Match for Michael” in Eatontown, N.J., an event held in hopes of finding a bone marrow donor for Jets fan Michael Manganiello, who recently was diagnosed with acute myelofibrosis.
Pettine said the Jets have been discussing ways to improve their team speed in the aftermath of the 2011 season ending without a trip to the playoffs. The Jets defense looked painfully slow at times last year — particularly when the Giants’ Victor Cruz raced through them for a 99-yard touchdown. The main culprits were at safety and linebacker.
Several Jets — most notably linebacker Bart Scott — have been working on losing weight to improve their speed.
“It’s kind of our motto defensively for the spring: ‘One step faster,’ ” Pettine said. “Just find a way to get one step faster, whether that’s mentally, whether that’s in the weight room, whether that’s on the field, cleaning up a technique, improving footwork. That’s kind of our rallying cry this spring — get one step faster.”
Nose tackle Sione Pouha, linebacker Aaron Maybin and quarterback Mark Sanchez attended the event last night. Sanchez would not discuss football.
Jets coach Rex Ryan said it has been great just seeing his team on the field again. He agreed with Pettine that the defense needs to get faster.
“The difference between a great play and a poor play sometimes can be that close,” Ryan said. “If we can improve our speed a little bit, I think that’s going to be big. ... We’ve been a really good defense for three years but we want to be a great defense.”
The Jets selected linebacker Demario Davis in the third round of the Draft, and part of the scouting report on him is he can cover tight ends. Pettine said it’s clear the team needs to stop the tight end to win the AFC East with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez in New England.
“If we want to win the division, we feel the division runs through Foxborough,” Pettine said. “We have to defend them. To me, that is overall. You saw the tight ends drafted. New England, I think, has set the trend for it and we have to respond to it.”
* Monday was the first day Jets coaches could be on the field with players. So what did Ryan think of his new quarterback, Tim Tebow? “I saw enough of Tebow last year, to be honest with you, especially that last drive,” Ryan deadpanned. “Like I’ve said before, this guy’s an outstanding football player. We’ll see what we can come up with.” ... The Jets agreed to a deal with kicker Josh Brown yesterday, Ryan confirmed. Brown will compete with incumbent Nick Folk for the starting job. The Rams recently released Brown after four seasons with the team. ... The Jets also waived wide receiver Logan Payne.
Mike Pettine, the Jets, Jets, The Jets, Rex Ryan, Michael Manganiello, Mark Sanchez