Bob Glauber has been Newsday's national football columnist since 1992. He was Newsday's football writer covering the Jets
Another day, another set of skirmishes, and Rex Ryan had had enough.
Infuriated by a second straight day of his players going at each other with tempers flared and fists raised, Ryan put his foot down Tuesday and resorted to something he'd never done before: He had all the players run "gassers." Ten sprints from one side of the field to the other as punishment for going over the line.
Good for him. Nothing wrong with a coach taking control when the moment calls for it. Especially for Ryan, who has vowed to run a tighter ship after admittedly failing to have his finger on the team's pulse last year.
"My big thing is protecting your teammate and don't do anything selfish," Ryan said afterward during his daily media briefing. "Being physical is one thing. Going past that is something else. That's what I didn't like. That's why we stopped and had to remind guys that the enemy is not in green and white."
Though it might seem from afar that the Jets are fraying and that Ryan is losing control, I would argue just the opposite. On a team that needed a firm hand to stop the extracurricular nonsense of the past two days, Ryan provided it with his whistle, backed up by a stern message, with a handful of expletives sprinkled in for emphasis.
Coming apart at the seams? Too early for that. Way too early. Not until this team gets into the heat of the regular season can anyone make a judgment about whether Ryan has lost control. But what has come out of this early-week mayhem should be considered a positive; rather than let his players scrap and fight with no consequences, Ryan got tough.
The message was received by his players, loud and clear.
"He got his point across," said rookie linebacker Demario Davis, who got into it with rookie running back Terrance Ganaway. "At the end of the day, we all know we're brothers here. We have each other's back. We're not each other's enemies. The enemy is out there."
Oh, and in case you were wondering, training camp fights are nothing new. They happen throughout the league. On good teams and bad teams. Just last week, the Patriots, who are coming off their fifth Super Bowl appearance since the 2001 season, had to run laps because Bill Belichick had enough after watching his players fight on two separate days last week.
"I think the guys are just eager to hit somebody else, so they're taking their frustrations out a little bit on each other, which shows what happens around training camp at this time all around the NFL," receiver Santonio Holmes said. "We've been doing it long enough with ourselves and Cincinnati can't come fast enough for us."
When it was suggested to Ryan, who had been in plenty of scraps with his twin brother Rob and older brother Jim, that this week's scraps were like brothers fighting, the coach said that was exactly the case.
"That's a great point, because the biggest fights I ever got into in my life were the ones with my brothers," Ryan said. "I never thought about it that way, but I hope you're right."
Defensive tackle Sione Pouha thinks that's precisely what has happened the last two days. And he believes there is some good that will come of it.
"When I put my two boys in their room for being bad, it seems like a bonding time for them," he said. "Even though I grounded them, they seem to come out of the room more unified. I think this situation is kind of like that."
Ryan sure hopes so. At a time when his players need a firm hand, Ryan provided it with some well-deserved discipline. By the end of the "gassers," his message had hit home.
"At the end of practice, when they were all tired after running," Ryan said, "they practiced exactly how I wanted them to practice."
A good day for the coach.
He'll need plenty more.