Florham Park, NJ – The New York Jets will have their three day mandatory minicamp next week (Tuesday June 4 through Thursday June 6), yes this means Le’Veon Bell will be in attendance, but today the team practiced in front of the media for another day of VOLUNTARY practice.
Of course this means the following disclaimer must be mentioned before going any further: It’s just voluntary OTAs without pads, there’s only so much that can be read from these practices especially considering they are still installing both a new offense and a new defense. When asked how far along the team is in the install process, Head Coach Adam Gase said, “we’re not even close. We’re piecing it in there, we’re repping it and this offense is a chameleon, it could blow up to a gazillion things or it could be minimized. It just all depends on what our players can handle and what we can do, what the quarterback is feeling, what he likes, but the longer we go the bigger it (the playbook) will get.” This is why most of the stories you’ll read about these practices is all about the “energy” and heightened “tempo” in practice.
There’s no doubt that the energy and tempo has ratcheted up in these practices from last year, there’s a distinct difference. Everything is moving at a much quicker pace (they are using the 40-second play-clock between each play and Gase is relaying all the information to his quarterbacks by using a walkie-talkie just like he will do in a game), the players are more into the practice, they are louder and you can feel the more competitive nature of these practices. The players credit this to the “chess game” between the offensive and defensive coaches, they say they can feel the coaching staff competing against each other which rubs off of them, but realistically it’s most likely more to do with a new energy. Regardless the reason it should absolutely push everyone more which should make for a more entertaining training camp for us reporters.
Now let’s get to today’s observations.
1) First-team offense will win their share of days for once – I’ve been covering this team since 2010 and since 2010 the first-team defense has dominated offseason practices. Sure, the first-team offense has won a few days here and there but usually the defense completely dominates the offense. Today, and even last week, we saw signs that with Sam Darnold leading the way this offense isn’t going to be the pushover that they have been for the past decade. The defense will win their share of days, especially because of the defensive line and Jamal Adams, but Darnold has looked so sharp, so in control and has such a better understanding of what he’s supposed to do with the ball that he will have no trouble scanning the field to find the open receiver, whether that’s Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, Jamison Crowder, Chris Herndon or, soon, Le’Veon Bell there will be no shortage of weapons at his disposal.
Of course to be completely fair, part of the reason why I can see the offense winning so many practices this offseason has to do with the lack of quality cornerbacks on this defense. The Jets have a very nice stable of receivers, but Parry Nickerson got starting reps at outside corner on the first-team defense today and Enunwa took advantage of him, cooking him for a 40-yard gain just short on the goal-line from a gorgeous pass delivered by Darnold.
2) Marcus Maye got a few reps in team drills – The Jets have issues at cornerback and very little depth at safety, Jamal Adams is one of the best safeties in football but this Jets defense needs Maye to stay healthy and Gase is very aware of this.
“We’re holding him back, we’re being cautious,” Gase said. “We do not want to have a set back with him because (if) you put those two guys (Adams and Maye) back there together, that’s a really good combination.”
Gase went on to say that part of the reason for being cautious with Maye is because of the energy, because the defense has a rule during team drills that anytime the ball hits the ground, even if it’s an obvious incomplete pass, the defense is to attack the ball on the ground like it’s a fumble and live ball. With no pads, players flying around and really getting after the loose balls Gase doesn’t want to risk Maye suffering a freak injury. Maye didn’t get a lot of reps in the team portion of practice but he looked completely healthy in the reps he did take. Gase is smart to proceed with caution, Maye sure seems healthy enough to be a full go in practice but this defense needs him to stay healthy.
3) Quinnen Williams impressing… in the classroom – Williams hasn’t been able to practice much until today, he tweaked his calf muscle on the first day of OTAs so they have decided to ease him into things as well. Williams practiced today, but there’s nothing to report about his on-field performance today (remember, no pads and it’s not full contact for offensive and defensive line so no power moves or anything), however both Leonard Williams and Steve McLendon gushed about the young rookie’s desire to learn.
“We haven’t played along side each other yet, but overall I just like the way he approaches every day. He comes to work quiet, he knows he’s a rookie (and) he’s not going to step out of place or anything like that, he’s a humble kid,” Williams said. “I’m just so impressed with how he is in the classroom, he still knows what he’s doing even though he hasn’t been on the field. So, that goes to show that when he’s not in, he’s taking mental reps which is something that a vet does so I give him credit for it being able to do that already at such a young age.”
McLendon has been just as impressed with the rookie and is more than happy to help show such an eager, and talented, kid the way.
“He comes in here with a smile every single day. Fighting through adversity at this time, right now, not being able to practice, but he’s putting in the work. He stays in my pocket, as soon as I come off the field it’s, ‘What were you thinking there? What did you see here? What do you think about this?'” McLendon said. “And also, he’s helping me with some things that I did not see that I was doing, to help me get better… I can say this, I feel comfortable (that) when I leave this business, when I leave the Jets, I know this young man can step in, even this year, and make a huge impact in this league.”
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