FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — With heads hung low and dripping with sweat, they each took turns circling the perimeter of the practice field.
The outcasts, mostly rookies, had drawn the ire of Jets offensive coordinate John Morton. Soon they were paying the price for their mental lapses with laps.
The double-digit sacks allowed by the offensive line, coupled with repeated false start penalties and dropped passes infuriated Morton so much that his voice was hoarse by the end of the afternoon.
“I think, as a team, we were sloppy,” coach Todd Bowles said Thursday, a day after his players had a day off. “ . . . You expect that, so you pick it up. They practiced hard. We’ve just got to practice smarter.”
It was such a mistake-filled practice on offense that 25-year-old Quincy Enunwa — now the elder statesman of the receiving corps — couldn’t help but shake his head afterward.
“I hate to say that we’re dumb, because we’re all smart enough to know you come off an off day, you’ve got to come in with laser focus,” he said. “You’ve got to be hyper-focused, your’e got know what’s going on, know all the plays, you’ve got be ready for what’s going on. And today was red zone so it’s one of those days where everything is going to be on you fast. And we weren’t ready.
“It’s frustrating as hell. I can’t lie about that.”
Although not pleased by the mental errors, Bowles didn’t seem as irritated as Morton.
“I told him every time he gets sore, I’ll carry it for him,” Bowles joked of his coordinator possibly losing his voice from all of the yelling. “But I think John likes that. He’s going to be a great old man because when he gets older and starts yelling at kids, his voice is going to scare a lot of people.”
This is training camp, the time of year when mistakes — no matter how egregious — are to be corrected and quickly forgotten, Enunwa said, adding: “This is where we learn, where we grow.”
Nevertheless, Thursday’s struggles highlighted the gaping holes in a roster comprised mostly of inexperienced young guys and questionable options at quarterback.
“Of course everybody was [upset at how the team practiced],” Enunwa said. “I think we’re striving for greatness. I know I was frustrated. It [stunk]. I came out Tuesday and had a great day, and today was not a great day. So I put that on myself . . . I try to make sure that I can at least create a spark when things aren’t going well: make a big play, hype guys up, hoot and holler. But I’ve got to do better. And we as a group need to do better.”
Bryce Petty (5-for-5) had a solid day after seeing an increase in his reps, but there were far too many rushed, errant and batted-down throws from fellow quarterbacks Josh McCown (10-for-16) and Christian Hackenberg (4-for-8).
After practice, Bowles stressed the importance of quick decision-making from all three. “I say that to all our quarterbacks. It ain’t just Hack,” he said. “I say that to Bryce, and I definite;y say that to “1-5 [McCown} “And I say it every day. Get rid of the ball quicker, run it or throw it away . . . It’s not a Hack thing, it’s a quarterback thing.”
Bowles also made the entire team run gassers at the end of practice, but he said it had nothing to do with their practice performance: “No, we ran because we were trying to get in shape.”