FLORHAM PARK, NJ – A look at what’s going on around the New York Jets:
1. Lots of green: The Jets probably have the youngest quarterback space in the NFL. How young Let’s put it this way: Nobody can tell firsthand stories about the days of the rotary dial, not even the coaches.
The tragic death of Assistant Greg Knapp, 58, the resident sage, has left the Jets without a skilled quarterback coach. It’s noteworthy because as everyone knows, the development of esteemed rookie Zach Wilson is a # 1 priority for the organization.
The group is led by Mike LaFleur, 34, a first-time offensive coordinator and game caller. The Jets quarterbacks coach is Rob Calabrese, 31, a first-time coach.
Coach Robert Saleh, whose expertise is on the other side of the ball, counted on Knapp to look after Wilson, Mike White and James Morgan, neither of whom have regular season experience. Their average age is 23.7 years. Just under 25 years of experience brought to the room after coaching an impressive group of quarterbacks including the Pro Football Hall of Famers Steve Young and Peyton Manning.
Former NFL quarterback and ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky believes the lack of experience could hurt Wilson.
“Imagine having to learn how to ride a bike without anyone knowing how to do it, how to teach you, nor someone to show you how to do it,” Orlovsky said.
The Jets won’t replace Knapp per se, but they will redistribute the workload for the trainers. Saleh said they will return to a traditional setup, with the coordinator and position coach working with the quarterbacks. Knapp’s position, passing game specialist, was a “bonus” for the workforce, according to Saleh. Maybe, but Knapp was the main voice in the room.
Saleh relies on LaFleur, the younger brother of Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur, to train beyond his years. After seven years at the side of San Francisco 49ers trainer Kyle Shanahan, LaFleur is on his own with no experienced soundboard.
“I know he’s a very young coach, but he’s advanced in terms of what he’s learned and the people he’s been with since he started coaching,” said Saleh.
2. Game book with silver lining: White and Morgan split the reps during Wilson’s absence, giving the coaches and front office an expanded look at the two young quarterbacks. White wasn’t great, but he surpassed Morgan, and it wasn’t nearly like that. Unless they import a veteran – Saleh seems to be against the idea – White is the favorite in the QB2 regular season.
That would be an interesting decision: would you cut Morgan with the idea of bringing him back for the training team? He would face waivers, and General Manager Joe Douglas may not want to risk any of his nominations. The alternative is to carry three QBs on the 53-man roster, but that seems like a waste of space.
Morgan, a 2020 four-round pick from Florida International, was an odd choice at the time. And it hasn’t aged well.
3. Money matters: In case you’re wondering, Wilson’s $ 35 million guarantee (his entire contract) is the fourth highest in franchise history, behind CJ Mosley ($ 43 million), Darrelle Revis ($ 39 million) and Muhammad Wilkerson ($ 37 million). These were the amounts guaranteed when it was signed.
Wilson landed the richest rookie deal, beating defensive tackle Quinnen Williams ($ 32.5 million).
4.Incredibly Shrinking Linebacker: Mosley, listed at 250 pounds in his last game in 2019, entered training camp at 231, his college weight in Alabama. He looks like a different person.
After retiring in 2020 and missing 14 games in 2019, Mosley has a lot to prove and he sounds highly motivated to show that he is still the player who made four Pro Bowls with the Baltimore Ravens. Whenever he sees highlights of himself on television, it’s always the same game – his impressive Jets debut in the 2019 opener against the Buffalo Bills. That seems so long ago.
“Honestly, I’m sick of seeing the same highlights for the past two years so I’m ready to put new highlights on tape,” he said. “A different body type, a different body feeling, a different defense, a different mentality, a different mindset. Everyone has seen this game, it will be a lot better this year and years to come.”
Mosley has made a lot of money ($ 29 million) while accumulating a lot of rust over the past two years. It might take a couple of weeks to get there, but it will surprise some people in 2021.
5. Musical kicker: It wouldn’t be a Jets training camp without a story about finding a space kicker. You’ve gone through four regular season kickers in the past two seasons – Kaare Vedvik, Sam Ficken, Sergio Castillo and Chase McLaughlin. There will be a new kicker this season after Ficken, unpredictably in the camp, is gone. The current competition is between rookie Chris Naggar and newcomer Matt Ammendola, who spent a few months with the Carolina Panthers earlier this spring
The Jets haven’t had a good kicker since Jason Myers reached the Pro Bowl in 2018. They ran him as a free agent and did not recover.
6. Carter Land: After four padless exercises, the jets put on their full equipment on Monday – according to purists, the real start to the training camp. The player I’m most excited to see is rookie running back Michael Carter, who looked great the first few days. He showed a knack for finding daylight, with the ability to slide through holes and get vertical with a nice burst.
But let’s keep the applause. It’s hard to rate running backs when there aren’t any real punches. The intensity will be increased on Monday and even higher in the preseason games. The selection from the fourth round from North Carolina, which could play a prominent role, is to be noted.
7. Big Blue in ’22? The Jets have joint drills with two of their preseason opponents, the Packers and the Philadelphia Eagles. Why not the New York Giants too? In fact, they had conversations with the Giants about practicing together. Saleh said he hoped they could do it next year.
Long-time fans will remember the last Jets Giants training. It was a day marked by multiple fights and a screaming battle between Jets Defense Coordinator Donnie Henderson and Giants trainer Tom Coughlin in 2005 in Albany, New York. I was there and witnessed the whole chaos; it was like the Jets were dying to play the role of a neighborhood thug. Oh memories.
The Jets open the preseason on August 14th against the Giants.
8. Motown to Big Apple: Linebacker Jarrad Davis is the classic “change-of-scenery” player. The 2017 first-round pick had a tough four seasons with the Detroit Lions, so tough it revealed, “I was thinking of leaving, I really did, man.”
He was benched and “burned out”, saying he let football overtake his life. It couldn’t have been much fun playing for Trainer Matt Patricia, a gruff wannabe Bill Belichick who had grown over his head. In short, Davis was unhappy. This is how players have spoken of the Jets, most recently quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who said his sophomore season with the Jets (2016) nearly destroyed his love of football.
Davis, who consulted a therapist who helped him deal with some emotional issues, said he felt revitalized under the charismatic Saleh and also noted that the 4-3 scheme of the jets is ideally suited to his abilities. Culture and schema fit are so important in the NFL. Davis, the linebacker for the Jets, has a fresh start. A career turnaround would certainly help the reputation of the Jets, which has been Lions-like for the past few years.
9. Crystal ball: Denzel Mims is no better than fifth in the pecking order for the wide receiver. He was a 2020 second round pick. This is a story worth following this summer.
10. The last word: “He had this light that he let shine that people attracted. Especially in the short time we were in OTAs, he never had a bad day. I wish I had more time with him. I think everyone has that. ” – Guard Greg Van Roten at Knapp.