If Tony Dungy flipped over to HBO from Nickelodeon at any point on Wednesday night, he would have been pleasantly surprised.
There was a lot less cursing in the second week of "Hard Knocks" and the team even took a group trip to a movie to celebrate their togetherness.
Granted, the movie was "Dinner With Schmucks," but week two of their television experience found a quieter, less profane Jets team all around. Rex Ryan used the F-word a lot less than he did in the premiere episode, there was a lot more discussion of problems with the Jets team and, perhaps most surprisingly, the team honored its gag order in relation to discussions of contract negotiations with Darrelle Revis.
That doesn't mean the cornerback didn't loom large over the episode. Ryan and other defensive coaches spent a lot of time ripping members of the second team and Ryan eviscerated them in the locker room after Monday night's game with the Giants. The tongue lashing was well deserved and it was impossible to miss the subtext when defensive coordinator Mike Pettine told Ryan that "the disappointing part is there are some guys in that group that are going to be playing for us."
They'd be playing less if Revis was on the field, something that makes Wednesday night's effusive praise for Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson ring awfully hollow. Going from a world-class group of cornerbacks to a merely good one is a mighty big dropoff and, discussed or not, Revis's absence remains the biggest story around the Jets.
As for Ryan, his subdued language didn't make him less entertaining. A segment featuring him teaching defensive players during practice underscored the fact that he's a football coach first and a court jester second while his attempt to build up Vernon Gholston was a reminder that the man probably would have been a successful salesman had life taken him in that direction. The Gholston segment, which also featured Ryan telling offensive lineman Robert Turner to pick a fight with the underachieving defensive end and gave us Ryan's best line of the night.
While watching Gholston, Ryan predicted that the coaches would see his testicles "drop right in front of our eyes." Sorry, Tony, he didn't actually say testicles but we're assuming that any discussion of that area is off limits for you even if proper terms are used. Now it's time for the other highs and lows of week two of "Hard Knocks."
High: Cromartie trying to remember the names and ages of all his kids. High, high comedy especially when he went with three as the default age for just about all of them. What a year 2007 must have been for Cromartie.
Low: We get that Mark Sanchez is cultivating the whole teen idol thing, but does he have to act like an actual teenager? This week found him obsessing about eating food that is orange, imitating the way other people walk and wearing an ensemble that featured a Taco Bell hat and what looked like a half-dozen bracelets on one arm. Worst of all, his default response to mistakes and criticism seems to be the 16-year-old classic move of looking at your feet and mumbling.
High: Mark Brunell might be the right guy to get Sanchez over the hump. He's a natural in the role of grizzled veteran with loads of advice to share with his young charge. One gem followed Sanchez blaming a poor throw on the ball: "It ain't the arrow, it's the Indian."
Low: Brunell refusing to introduce his college freshman daughter to Sanchez. It's a wise move as a father, no doubt, but the fallout from such a meeting would make for a fine episode down the line.
High: The introduction of cheesy TV commercial staple Shake Weights to the Jets workout regimen. Kudos to punter Steve Weatherford for buying them and to the cameras for catching LaDainian Tomlinson using his close to his face and mouth.
Quote of the Week (Non-Ryan Divsion): Bart Scott after learning that the struggling rookie running back Joe McKnight went to USC, "He's just mad cause he's taking a pay cut."