When Rex Ryan named Eric Smith, Sione Pouha, Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes the Jets team captains last season, the move violently backfired in his face. Gang Green lost sight of the team concept and a divide started to grow in the locker room; culminating in Santonio Holmes’ temper tantrum during New York’s season finale loss to the Miami Dolphins.
The Jets have moved on from the horrors of the 2011 season and Ryan is committed to taking a more ‘hands on approach’ by emphasizing the collective team success over any individual accomplishments. So when the Green-and-White opened minicamp this month, it marked the unannounced debut of the Jets black practice jerseys.
In short, Ryan installed a reward system for his offensive and defensive units; giving the top performing squad the right to wear the mystical black jerseys. Whether the jerseys truly posses any superpowers is debatable, but the new motivational tactic undoubtedly stirred competition in minicamp. Ryan actually borrowed the idea from offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, whom awarded his players different colored jerseys when he was a head coach down in Miami.
Players have taken a liking to the new reward system citing it as ‘new tradition’ at Jets camp. As Gang Green aims to build camaraderie and promote healthy competition in practice, the black jerseys have served not only as bragging rights, but more importantly a unifying factor in the locker room this offseason period.
Rick Laughland covers the New York Jets for Greenandwhitereport.com
You can follow him on Twitter @rlaughland
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