Top 5 Surprises of Jets Camp So Far

Will Parkinson offers his training camp takeaways.

It’s been an exciting and fast-paced start to camp for the New York Jets. Below are the five biggest surprises of camp going into the Giants game.

1.       Rookie Defenders – Something that has stood out to me is the quick development of some of the Jets’ late round picks. Hamsah Nasirildeen, Brandin Echols, Jason Pinnock, Jamien Sherwood have all gotten a ton of reps with the one’s and two’s early in camp and all have had positive moments. I expect Nasirildeen and Echols to seriously contend for starting roles come week one and Sherwood and Pinnock to develop and get some playing experience in 2021.

2.       Denzel Mims – What is surprising to me is the panic from the media and fan base when it comes to the second year wideout. He had a rough spring (stomach illness) and an even rougher start to camp, running with the twos and three’s while struggling with the playbook and drops. Mims has flattened out over the past two or three days and needs to continue to stack good days together to ensure he is getting a lot of reps with Wilson going into the opener.

3.       Mehki Becton – Becton, coming off of a strong rookie year, was expected to take training camp by the horns and assert his dominance in this perfect scheme fit. Mehki has struggled a lot throughout camp, partly due to Carl Lawson as well as the lack of consistency at left guard. I wouldn’t be overly concerned about Becton, especially with the performance of Dan Feeney next to him, which is leading to a bunch of the sacks, but I do think it’s fair to say Becton is going to need to take his play to next level before the real games start.

4.       The Running Backs – Going into camp, I felt like running backs was one of the weaker groups on the Jets’ offense–not because of potential but because we really didn’t know what to expect. Thus far, the running back group has been impressive, and four players who all should make the roster have had their bright spots. Michael Carter has taken a bunch of starting reps, but La’Mical Perine, Tevin Coleman and Ty Johnson have all ran well and will give the Jets a solid backfield with some pop and play-making to it.

5.       CJ Mosley & Jarad Davis – The Jets are betting big on potential with this linebacker group, specifically on the return of CJ Mosley to 2018/19 form and Jarrad David to his college and rookie year tape. Davis has been calling a majority of the plays for the defense and Mosley looks in as good a shape as he ever has. Both former 1st round picks have high potential, especially the former all-pro Mosley, and so far in camp they have formed a nice partnership that could pay huge dividends for this defense and team in 2021. Both guys are away from coaches that become draining on their love of the game and both have looked the part thus far in camp.

Insights from Today’s Jets Practice

Four of our writers and podcast hosts offer their takeaways from seeing the Jets in person today.

Turn on the Jets was fortunate to have four writers and hosts at today’s Jets practice. In this article, they share with you their impressions of the day’s events, ranging from Zach Wilson’s performance to Jeff Ulbrich’s defense.

What were your impressions of watching Zach Wilson in person today?

Matt Gianesses: Zach looked very comfortable today. He threw mostly good, accurate balls with only a few incompletions – one of which was a drop. His throws have significantly more zip on them than the other two QBs on the field, (Morgan and White). The ball flies out of his hand.

Stephen Zantz: Zach looked great. He was decisive and accurate. The Elijah Moore deep ball is going to big talking point but Zach made a ton of other solid throws. Besides the Moore TD, he had a great rollout bullet throw to Denzel Mims. Overall, this was a great bounce back practice for Zach after a rough day 1.

Stephen Russo:  Wilson had a great day of camp and it was great to see him bounce back from a subpar first practice.  The ball popped and he showed the ability to climb the pocket, move around within the pocket, and get out on rollouts and scrambles.  It was all capped off by a great deep ball to Elijah Moore that got the entire crowd (and Jets Twitter) fired up!

Will Parkinson: I was impressed with Wilson and it was for a few reasons. I thought he showed a swagger and confidence that was evident, especially after struggling heavily on day 1. I liked his ability to put touch on the ball when needed and then fire in a fastball when needed. Lastly, although there is a ton of room to grow, what I saw on film from Wilson was shown on the field Saturday.

What are your thoughts on Mike LaFleur’s offense now that you’ve seen it in person?

Matt Gianesses: It’s hard to tell this early on, but Zach rolled out of the pocket more than once, which was something Gase refrained from designing for his quarterbacks. I also found it amusing seeing a pre-snap motion in training camp, as Gase-led offenses rarely motioned in the regular season. 

Stephen Zantz: It’s polar opposite to what we saw with Adam Gase. The biggest thing I noticed was amount of rollouts and use of Zach’s feet. Gase never let Darnold run so it was nice to see an offensive coordinator that is utilizing a QB’s athleticism. Jet fans should be happy that we now have a seblance of what an offense should look in the 2021 NFL.

Stephen Russo:  It’s not an Adam Gase offense so immediately it’s an improvement, right?! In all honesty, it’s difficult to tell this early on but a few things that jump out are the pre-snap motion, designed rollouts, and the ability to get a lot of guys involved.  I also think that the “run-first” mentality of this offense may hold true to set up the pass, and the Jets look to be in decent shape with that RB room as Carter, Perine, and Johnson all looked good today.

Will Parkinson: A few different things stood out to me. The use of pre snap motion was something Jets fans haven’t seen in a long time and they got a bunch of yesterday just 4 days into offensive install. There was a nice mix of play action, inside and outside zone runs and straight 5 step drops. Very early on but the Jets using motion as well as a ton of 11 personal(3 WRs, 1 RB, 1 TE) was something that stood out as well; sounds crazy to fans, but actually maximizing your talent–unlike previous regimes.
  

Did any other offensive players stand out to you for positive reasons?

Matt Gianesses: To me, Elijah Moore looks like a seasoned NFL veteran. Not just from his on field play, but from the way he carries himself throughout stretches, drills, and team huddles. You could find him dancing, instigating the crowd, and cheering on his teammates. He looks like he’s been here before.

Stephen Russo:  Simply put, Elijah Moore.  He was everywhere, and already seems to have a great rapport with Wilson and is clearly his favorite target.  It doesn’t seem like Moore is a rookie and he is going to make it difficult to keep him off the field.  If the Jets plan on starting the best 3 receivers, he is easily in that group and probably at the top at this point. 

Will Parkinson: The easy answer here is Elijah Moore. Lined up everywhere mostly outside opposite Corey Davis and excelled. I really liked what I saw from Michael Carter, LaMichael Perine, DJ Montgomery, Tyler Kroft as well as how physically imposing Morgan Moses is. As big as Mehki Becton is, Morgan Moses doesn’t exactly look small compared to him, the Jets certainly have some monsters at left and right tackle.

Today’s practice was notable because of how well Zach Wilson played. Based on reports, it seems like the defense struggled. Was that your impression of today’s practice?

Matt Gianesses: The secondary definitely struggled. The pass rush did not. There were throws from Wilson, Morgan, and White that easily would have resulted in sacks. Lawson put on an absolute clinic in his limited reps.

Stephen Zantz: I wouldn’t say the defense struggled as a whole but the secondary was very shaky. A few nice PBUs but overall they were cooked by Zach. Carl Lawson was held relatively in check by Becton today but the DL was getting into the backfield a lot today. Zach’s bomb TD to Moore probably would have been a sack if it was a real game because he held onto the ball for about 4-5 seconds. I think the defense was solid but the offense was just better today.

Stephen Russo:  I don’t necessarily think the defense struggled but it was a good day for the offense.  If you were going to point to one concern, it would be the secondary but we already knew that – and we are in day 4 of training camp with a litany of rookies and second year guys getting rotated in.  Jason Pinnock made a great, acrobatic pick off his back and probably returned it for a TD.  I thought that Lawson and John Franklin-Myers flashed as well and Jets fans are going to be happy with the D-Line production this year. 

Will Parkinson: I wouldn’t say the defense played badly at all. Firstly, without full pads or even uppers on its very difficult to tell because of how cluttered run fits can look and how the outside battles can be. That said, Carl Lawson flashed every single play and the defense as a whole played fast even though they lost some battles in 50/50 balls on the outside. I didn’t think the defense played badly, but today was just more about the excitement of Zach Wilson showing his potential.

Were there any standout players on defense that you noticed?

Matt Gianesses: Carl Lawson pressured the quarterback on what felt like every other rep he took today. He was a nightmare for the offense. The Jets desperately need to keep him healthy alongside Quinnen Williams.

Stephen Zantz: No one specifically stuck out to me on defense. Granted most of my attention was on the offense looking for big plays. The one thing I will say was Saleh was super involved in the cornerback positional drills. It was great to see him providing input on a unit that definitely needs work.

Stephen Russo:  Carl Lawson would be the one defensive player who flashed.  Him and Becton going at it day after day is going to be great for both of them.  Outside of Lawson, there was nothing really notable for the defense, but it wasn’t a bad day either.  

Will Parkinson: Carl Lawson. I’ve written and studied him all winter and spring and he is every bit the player I’ve watched on film. He’s physical, he’s intelligent, he’s fast and has a million pass rush moves. He is going to make Mehki Becton so much better from battling everyday but Lawson will only get better once the pads come on. Jets may have finally solved there edge problem.

Are there any other observations or thoughts that you would like to share with fans based on today’s practice?

Stephen Zantz: The biggest takeaway I have is that Elijah Moore is going to be a really good player for the Jets for a long time as long as he is healthy. You can see the difference between him and everyone else. His route running and speed combination was awesome to see. He looked like the best player out there today. Something I also loved to see was how involved Saleh was with all the units during practice. I saw him taking notes as he walked around the field. It was just really refreshing to see his approach conmpared to what Gase was doing the past two years. Overall, it was a great day for the fans and I highly recommend people try and go to a practice or the green/white game.

Stephen Russo:  Robert Saleh addressing the fans at the end of practice is exactly why this fanbase is so optimistic going into 2021.  He wrapped practice up with the team, grabbed the mic, and thanked us all for being there and told us about about the character of his guys.  He ended it with an “All Gas, No Brake” chant that got the crowd completely fired up and was a great way to end a great day.  We’re 4 days into camp so I don’t to put the cart before the horse, but I truly believe that the combination of Saleh and Douglas could have the Parcells-ian like impact on this franchise.  All Gas, baby!!

Will Parkinson: I think the biggest takeaway was the the culture and vibes around one Jets Drive are certainly changing. They are still a major work in progress but the energy was buzzing and you could tell they’re trying to build something short term and long term here. There’s a lot of young talent and some high level veterans that will have to gel and have things break their way, but the fans, players and coaches all seem to be trying to build something special.

 
 

Have the Jets finally found their QB of the Future?

Will Parkinson offers his thoughts on Zach Wilson.

It’s no secret that the Jets have been looking for their franchise Quarterback since Joe Namath moved on to the Rams in 1977. There have been flashes of hope–with Ken O’Brien, Boomer Eisasion, Vinny Testeverde, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chad Pennington, Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Christian Hackenberg, and Sam Darnold–but Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh believe they finally have the guy to buck the trend and be the Jets’ franchise QB for years to come. When the Jets traded Sam Darnold to the Panthers back in April, it became abundantly clear that Zach Wilson would be the Jets’ pick at #2 overall. Wilson is an uber-talented player who could have gone #1 overall in a draft, if not for Trevor Lawrence. The Jets feel like they found their guy and are doing everything they can to make Wilson successful. 

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TOJ Pod ft. Mike Tannenbaum

Will Parkinson interviews former Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum on this episode of the TOJ Pod.

On this episode of the Turn on the Jets podcast, Will Parkinson interviews former Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum about a variety of Jets-related topic including:

      • Zach Wilson
      • How the Jets young roster can make strides to compete and be sustainable like what Mike built in 06/07 and 08-10
      • Recapping moves like Revis, Vilma, Favre, Sanchez
      • Preview the Offensive line
      • Keys to Jets success in 2021
      • The QB extension market

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The Jets’ Game Wrecking Strength

Will Parkinson talks about the strength of the Jets’ DL.

The Jets finally have a position group that other teams will have nightmares to scheme against. This is Saleh’s bread and butter. The DL has the potential to be scary and one of the most elite in the NFL. In this article, I will dive into this topic in more depth.

If you told a Jets fan in 2005 that it would be 15 years until they had an edge rusher like John Abraham on the roster, they would’ve called you crazy. This offseason, the Jets hope that they have solved their glaring EDGE hole by adding Carl Lawson. Lawson joins an already talented group of young defensive linemen. While the Jets struggled heavily in 2020, the defensive line was one of the lone bright spots. Going into 2021 this group is the strength of the team and features exciting players like Quinnen Williams, Sheldon Rankins, John Franklin Meyers, in addition to Carl Lawson, and a bunch of other depth pieces. Between the talent on this unit and the 4-3 scheme change, under Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich. This unit should be one of the best in the NFL if they can live up to their potential.

When the Jets drafted Quinnen Williams back in 2019, most evaluators thought they were getting the best overall player in the draft. Williams is supremely physically gifted for an interior defensive lineman. He showed some flashes in 2019 but took a huge leap in 2020, becoming one of the best young defensive players in the NFL. Williams produced 7.0 sacks, 10 TFL, and 14 QB hits in his second year, playing somewhat out of position in a 3-4 defense. Williams was a stud at Alabama playing in the 4-3 under front at the defensive tackle role, which he will be playing in 2021 and beyond. The scheme change and addition of talent will allow Williams to pin his ears back and create havoc in the backfield. This scheme will create more one on one matchups and allow him to use his size and speed versus smaller and slower IOL. He can get to the double-digit sack mark in his third year and compete for a pro bowl, maybe even an all-pro bid. On the TOJ Pod, Marcus Spears said, “I think for Quinnen Williams he can turn into that guy, where defense say we got to make sure we take care of that guy!” For the Jets, if Williams takes another leap in 2021, it should not only allow him to gain more recognition but the defense as a whole.

The Jets long search for the next John Abraham is hopefully over. In the offseason, the Jets signed talented pass rusher Carl Lawson to a 3-year 45-million-dollar deal. Lawson ranked sixth in pass-rush win rate over the past two seasons, ranking only behind superstars like TJ Watt, Myles Garrett, and Joey Bosa according to PFF. Austin Gayle of PFF is very high on Lawson, saying, “injuries remain a concern, but Lawson is easily one of the league’s premier pass-rushing talents when healthy.” Lawson had 64 QB pressures and 32 QB hits in 2020. His sack numbers (5.5) in 2020 weren’t as high, but he projects to have a large jump this year based on those pressures and hits, combined with playing with talented guys like Williams, Rankins, Franklin-Meyers, and others. Injuries have been a concern for the talented pass rusher from Auburn, as he missed major chunks of 2018 and 2019 in addition to injuries in college, which caused him to fall in the draft. With Lawson screaming off of one edge, the Jets defense will have a dimension that they have been sorely missing, as well as one that will help protect their incredibly young and unproven cornerback room.

One of the most underrated signings of the offseason around the NFL was the Jets bringing in Sheldon Rankins on a 2 year 18.5 million dollar deal. Rankins will be another talented interior defensive lineman to play alongside Williams and Lawson. Rankins was a dominant force in 2018 with the Saints, racking up 8.5 Sacks before tearing his Achilles in 2019. Rankins will look to return to his past form in 2021 and help provide stability and another dominant presence in the new 4-3 scheme. While durability this year and beyond is a concern for the Jets with guys like Lawson, Williams, and Rankins all who have missed time the past two years, if these guys can stay on the field at the same time, should provide a great force in the AFC and NFL as a whole.

The defensive line’s ability to create pressure and get to the quarterback without having to blitz is a massive key in today’s NFL. It’s why Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh put such an emphasis on it this offseason. Part of what made the 49ers so successful in 2019 was being able to get pressure with the front 4 and being able to provide protection their secondary, something the Jets will be relying on heavily in 2021. If Lawson, Williams, Rankins as well John Franklin-Meyers, who was a breakout player for the Jets in 2020, perform the way they are capable, this defense should be a top 12-15 defense. This is a must-watch group in 2021 and should produce at least one, if not two pro bowlers. 

TOJ Pod ft. John Jastremski

Will Parkinson interviews John Jastremski about the 2021 Jets.

On this episode of the Turn on the Jets podcast Will Parkinson is joined by John Jastremski formerly of WFAN and current host of “New York, New York” on the Ringer podcast network as they discuss:

– Jets draft needs/outlook for 2021
– Tua vs Wilson vs Allen vs Cam
– Dolphins vs Jets fandom
– All things NY Sports

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