When the New York Jets introduced the idea of black practice jerseys going to the offense or defense each day based on which unit had a better practice the day before, most brushed it off as a silly tactic not worth much attention. The Jets defense has been ahead for the majority of the start of training camp, but the offense was able to earn the black jerseys for today's practice because of their production in goal line drills yesterday. Today, the defense responded and took back the black jerseys.
The New York Jets announced the motivational tactic of rewarding the better unit in practice with black jerseys a while back, hoping it would spark more competitive practices. We thought the idea would be a good one, giving players a tangible incentive to compete for each day, and a reminder that they need to step it up and match the other unit if they don't earn the black duds. The idea goes back to the old Nebraska Cornhuskers, whose defense still bears the "Blackshirts" moniker.
Even with the defense expected to be the better unit this season, it will give the offense something to shoot for and it should serve to his the reset button and refocus the defense anytime they surrender the black jerseys to the offense.
Today was a good example of just that. The defense has had the upper hand for most of training camp, but the offense was better in goal line drills yesterday and was rewarded with the black jerseys today. In response, the defense came out inspired on the field today and took it to the offense in an effort to get the jerseys back.
Practice can become a mundane task, even for NFL players who are paid to play. With a little something on the line in each and every practice, it breaks up some of the monotony and should ramp up the intensity and competition each day. The idea was instituted by head coach Rex Ryan, who is hoping to see more fire on the practice field as a result.
Is it groundbreaking stuff? No, but everyone likes to have a tangible incentive to work hard. The black jerseys serve as a reminder for the players to work hard and compete every practice, and so far the ploy has done just that.
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