The Jets' Green & White practice on Sunday included some scrimmage-like elements similar to last Wednesday's scrimmage at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. That's when the first-team offense lined up against the second-team defense and vice versa. Here are three takeaways from Sunday's session.
Sam Darnold and the Offense Levels Up
Head Coach Adam Gase said the offense needed to fix things quickly after Wednesday, the team's first scrimmage of training camp, and the group responded Sunday.
"I thought today was way better than the last time we kind of had a scrimmage atmosphere," Gase said. "I'm not sure if it was the fact that we were in the stadium, just kind of that feel. I thought we got a lot of good work [Sunday] going through TV timeouts, crowd noise and kind of hearing what that might be like, the halftime. That was good. So, there were a lot of positive things that came out of [Sunday]."
Quarterback Sam Darnold and the offense were sharper. The offense, which turned the ball over three times earlier last week, didn't commit a turnover. Darnold found the end zone twice – once on a back-shoulder fade to RB Le'Veon Bell and another over the middle to WR Chris Hogan, whose score capped off a long drive to end practice. Darnold did a nice job evading pressure up the middle from DL Sterling Johnson and rolling to his right before delivering a strike to Hogan. Darnold, however, missed Trevon Wesco over the middle throwing to his left and later missed WR Jamison Crowder in the end zone.
"Energy was really good, guys were ready to go," Darnold said. "It just felt better out there. That first scrimmage, that first time trying to get drives together, whether it's OTAs or training camp, it's usually always kind of a struggle at first, but I felt the second go-around was good. I missed a couple of throws at the end there, but we were able to finish it off with a touchdown, so it was a good drive and I think we are leaving here pretty happy with where we are."
Defense Is Game Ready
The defense had a good day in its home office, too. Linebacker Avery Williamson said it was weird without fans in the stands, but it's something the defense, which usually feeds off the crowd noise, will have to get used to.
"I feel like we did a solid job," Williamson said. "It wasn't perfect, but overall, I feel like we're flying around making plays. I feel like we've definitely gotten better the last couple of weeks and I'm super excited. … We just have to make sure we know our run fits on everything. We have to stop the run first and knowing the spots we have to be on the field. I feel like we're getting a lot more confident and comfortable with this defense."
The defense has still yet to practice with CBs Pierre Desir (hamstring) and Brian Poole (dehydration) in addition to third-round pick DL Jabari Zuniga (quad). The group, however, has a lot of returning players entering their second season with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins, who is one the longest-tenured Jets along with DL Steve McLendon, feels good about the defense that he said has no egos.
"After the last couple days of practice, it's been real physical and you got to really see how some of the younger guys responded and see how all the new additions to the defense play with each other," Jenkins said. "Getting Avery back, playing with all the new guys, it was a good couple of days. … I feel like not having the preseason games isn't going to faze us too much with the way we've been hitting and being physical in practice."
See the Best Images from Sunday's Practice at MetLife Stadium
Sam Ficken Gets a Leg Up
Special teams coordinator Brant Boyer said he was placing extra emphasis on scrimmages when evaluating his unit, particularly at kicker. Sam Ficken, who connected on 70.4 % of his field goals in 15 games for the Jets last season, made all four of his attempts Sunday from 33, 42, 48 and 52 yards. Brett Maher, who was released Monday morning, missed from 48 and 52. Ficken is now the only place-kicker on the roster with the season opener at Buffalo on Sept. 13.