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How Jets' Brandon Marshall helped Jace Amaro change his catching technique

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How Jets' Brandon Marshall helped Jace Amaro change his catching technique

 
Jace Amaro

 

By Darryl Slater | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

FLORHAM PARK — Every morning, in the weeks leading up to Jets training camp, tight end Jace Amaro walked into his parents' back yard in San Antonio. 

He set up a Jugs machine and stood in front of it. Then one of his family members — his father or even one of his sisters — spent the next hour feeding footballs into the machine.

One by one, the balls zipped toward Amaro, who framed his hands in a triangle well before each ball arrived — just like teammate Brandon Marshall had shown him. Three hundred balls every morning, and sometimes again at night. Since February, Amaro estimated he has caught 10,000 to 15,000 balls. 

Amaro wants to be an important part of the Jets' offense this season, his third in the NFL. A former second-round draft pick, Amaro missed last year with a shoulder injury, after he struggled with drops during his rookie season in 2014. 

With Marshall and fellow wide receiver Eric Decker getting so many targets in the Jets' offense, Amaro knows he'll have to run block well in order to play. But he also knows he can — and must — catch the ball better than he did as a rookie. 

Throughout high school and college, Amaro never paid much attention to catching technique, even though he was a prolific pass catcher at Texas Tech. 

"I guess I just kind of athlete'd it," he told NJ Advance Media after a recent training camp practice. 

Then came his uneven 2014 season, when he was targeted 53 times and caught 38 passes for 345 yards and two touchdowns. 

Amaro understood the general "triangle" principle of catching — use the thumb and pointer finger of each hand to form a triangular frame. But he used to not bring his hands together in a triangle until the ball sailed toward him. In the NFL, Amaro learned, this was not a reliable enough technique for him.

When the Jets began offseason workouts in April, Amaro spoke with Marshall. Amaro often asks Marshall questions. One day, they got to talking about Marshall's catching technique. Marshall told Amaro that he likes to form the triangle well before the ball arrives — and punch toward the ball with the triangular frame, for stability. Amaro, who admired Marshall's success last year, wanted to try this. 

"I always used to close in on the ball with my hands, rather than bringing them tight and holding them in there, and then getting the ball," Amaro said. "So if you're trying to catch the ball with your hands coming in, rather than punching it, it's a little bit easier for the ball just to slip right through your hands. I was waiting for the ball to get there, rather than [forming the] initial triangle and punching at the ball. That's something I feel like I can be a lot better at." 

Between his time at his family's home to the Jets' spring practices to working out with his trainer in Texas, Amaro made this catching technique his routine. He resolved to catch 300 to 400 balls a day, to train his eyes and hands. He caught balls at different angles, to prepare for every potential game situation. 

Even still, after camp practices, Amaro spends a few minutes on the Jugs machine. Though it's early, his work is paying off so far. Already in camp, four practices in, he has made a couple pretty catches — a diving grab along the sideline, and an outstretched catch in the back corner of the end zone. 

Amaro tried to make this technique adjustment as simple as possible for himself — and it now feels natural. 

"If you're trying to catch a fish [with your hands], you're not going to catch a fish clapping at it," Amaro said. "You're going to catch a fish holding [your hands like a] net and then bringing it in, closing your hands.

"That's something one of my trainers told me. That's something I kept in mind. I'm doing a lot better out here. I feel like I've been catching the ball really well, a lot better. I just feel a lot smoother. I'm not really worried about that part.

Run blocking — something he rarely did in college — remains Amaro's biggest hurdle to playing a lot. If he can't run block, he won't get on the field enough to showcase his improved hands. Because he missed all of last season, he hasn't practiced in pads since early in last year's training camp. So he's just getting back into the swing of real run blocking. 

"Obviously, if I want to play, I can't just catch the ball," Amaro said. "I've got to be able to do both. If I'm able to do both, I feel like I fit right in with this team. I feel like I'm strong enough and big enough to be able to block anybody out here." 

Darryl Slater may be reached at dslater@njadvancemedia.com.

 

#88 WIL be a factor this year. 

 

 

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Usually superior athletes have trouble teaching technique to younger guys.  After all, Marshall makes catching the ball look so effortless at times, its hard to come down to a lesser pass-catcher's "level".  Maybe this is a rare instance where he can help.

Marshall also had Rod Smith take him under his wing when he entered the league, learning a lot when it came to preparation and work ethic.  That type of mentoring never hurts. 

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Damn, Amaro put in some work this offseason.  Lets hope it pays off.  You have to assume he's better suited to play Enunwa's role.  Him stepping up would be a huge lift for the offense.  

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1 minute ago, Sperm Edwards said:

As great as this is to hear, it's also equally disturbing that our receivers coach didn't drill this into his head and it had to come to Marshall doing so. I mean the current coach, Dorrell; not Lal (who didn't get his hands on Amaro until the late spring). Dorrell was hired in January of last year -- well in advance of Amaro's 2nd camp, and he had more than enough time to look at film on his young pass catchers -- particularly a young, high draft pick with consistency issues with his hands. 

Again, it's encouraging that he's gotten this guidance from Marshall and has put in this work now, but it should have started a year earlier. Makes me wonder what else is being ignored right under their noses.

Sanjay Lal

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2 minutes ago, BroadwayJets said:

Sanjay Lal

Read my post. This is far more of a poor reflection of Dorrell than Lal. Dorrell should have been in communication with Amaro by the end of January or beginning of February. Lal - who I'm no fan of - didn't get to work with Amaro until late spring/early summer. Not exactly enough time for his 10,000-pitch jugs machine offseason.

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Just now, Sperm Edwards said:

Read my post. This is far more of a reflection of Dorrell than Lal. Dorrell should have been in communication with Amaro by the end of January or beginning of February. Lal - who I'm no fan of - didn't get to work with Amaro until late spring/early summer. Not exactly enough time for his 10,000-pitch jugs machine offseason.

LOL can't lie I read the first sentence and thought Sanjay Lal. Apologies.

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6 minutes ago, dbatesman said:

Marshall was tied for 2nd in the league in drops last year.

Also led the league in 2013. Second in drops in 2012.

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20 minutes ago, Sperm Edwards said:

As great as this is to hear, it's also equally disturbing that our receivers coach didn't drill this into his head and it had to come to Marshall doing so. I mean the current coach, Dorrell; not Lal (who didn't get his hands on Amaro until the late spring). Dorrell was hired in January of last year -- well in advance of Amaro's 2nd camp, and he had more than enough time to look at film on his young pass catchers -- particularly a young, high draft pick with consistency issues with his hands. 

Again, it's encouraging that he's gotten this guidance from Marshall and has put in this work now, but it should have started a year earlier. Makes me wonder what else is being ignored right under their noses.

To be fair, that kind of advice probably has more impact coming from a guy who's actually caught passes in the NFL than a guy who hasn't played a down of competitive football since high school.

Speaking from personal experience, every sports camp I've ever been to, I usually ended up learning more from the guest players than from the coaches running the camp.

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4 hours ago, The Crusher said:

While he is at it can Brandi teach Jace how to turn around, rip the ball out of the intercepting DB's hand and trot into the end zone for a touchdown ?  That sh*t was cool. 

 

https://cdn1.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/GaUvULof3QQ-r-xvGSGmbCL-42c=/cdn0.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/4056878/bmarsh.0.gif

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4 hours ago, dbatesman said:

Marshall was tied for 2nd in the league in drops last year.

 

3 hours ago, Matt39 said:

Also led the league in 2013. Second in drops in 2012.

That settles it. Cut this bum.

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Hands arent marshalls best attribute.  Hes great but drops waaaay to many easy ones.  Reminds me of TO in that regard.

I am looking forward to amaro this year.  I think he will be the surprise player in this offense.

 

 

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5 hours ago, Gas2No99 said:

Amaro understood the general "triangle" principle of catching — use the thumb and pointer finger of each hand to form a triangular frame. But he used to not bring his hands together in a triangle until the ball sailed toward him. In the NFL, Amaro learned, this was not a reliable enough technique for him.

TRIANGLE.png

"He's got the skills and knowledge, I've got the attitude" 

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Marshall was tied for 2nd in the league in drops last year.

And on so few targets

Sent from my SM-G920T using Tapatalk

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7 hours ago, Beerfish said:

Brandon Marshall, best ....trade....ever

A 5th rounder for this guy was out and out theft.

I want to second this..

B Marshall has been one of the All Time Great Jet teammates by far.

It is actually stunning!!!

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8 hours ago, Sperm Edwards said:

As great as this is to hear, it's also equally disturbing that our receivers coach didn't drill this into his head and it had to come to Marshall doing so. I mean the current coach, Dorrell; not Lal (who didn't get his hands on Amaro until the late spring). Dorrell was hired in January of last year -- well in advance of Amaro's 2nd camp, and he had more than enough time to look at film on his young pass catchers -- particularly a young, high draft pick with consistency issues with his hands. 

Again, it's encouraging that he's gotten this guidance from Marshall and has put in this work now, but it should have started a year earlier. Makes me wonder what else is being ignored right under their noses.

I could swear Namath said this a couple years ago about all our receivers and was laughed out of the building by Rex an Co. 

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8 hours ago, JoJoTownsell1 said:

This just in, guys that get the ball thrown to more often tend to have more drops. Guys like Demayrius/Evans/Julio Jones were at the top of the list this past year. 

In 2014, Gronk was 11th. 

 

Stephen Hill dropping  4 out of 10 passes is a problem. Marshall dropping 10 on 173 targets is not a big deal. 

Imagine that, QBs trust their studs to go get the ball in tough spots while the role players only get the rock when wide open. In 2015, Odell Beckham was tied with Jordan Matthews for drops. How can this be? OBJ has probably the best mitts in the game and Matthews was lambasted as a banana hands last year???

 "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

-Mark Twain paraphrasing  Benjamin Disraeli

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18 hours ago, Joe W. Namath said:

Hands arent marshalls best attribute.  Hes great but drops waaaay to many easy ones.  Reminds me of TO in that regard.

 

 

But TO made you forget about that because of his upside.  Marshall does it a similar way.  He'll make ridiculous catches against double or triple coverage that very few WR's can make.  I'll gladly take the high drop rate in exchange for the game-changing plays he makes.  You have to account for him on defense on every snap because of that.

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