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.