This offseason has been exceedingly different for the Jets. But different doesn't always mean difficult. In fact, some players seem to have embraced the virtual offseason program that has taken them to this point, a little more than a month away from the scheduled start to 2020 training camp.
Take cornerback Brian Poole.
"I mean, I've actually been enjoying it," Poole told Eric Allen on a recent NewYorkJets.com video. "It's been good just to get back in the routine, hearing the defense over again, being with the guys."
Hearing important elements of coordinator Gregg Williams' defense was important for the versatile fifth-year nickel. It was one reason Poole decided to re-sign with the Jets after spending about three days as an unrestricted free agent in March.
"It really made sense, just with the pandemic going on and everything like that," he said. "It just made more sense just to stay put, and I feel like it was the best opportunity for me going forward with my career. One more year just to be in the defense I was in last year. I really enjoyed playing in it, I feel like it fit my skillset well, and I'm definitely excited about going into my second year in New York."
Part of the excitement, he explained, comes from him being able to play to his strengths.
"I definitely take pride in having a lot of versatility in my game," said Poole, who has played inside and outside at corner, occasionally gone forward as a blitzer and occasionally patrolled the deep middle as a safety. "Playing the position I play, you've got to be able to support in the run game as well as the pass game, so you've got to be a firm tackler. Being versatile is something that definitely can help you in playing the nickel position, I would say."
And part of his optimism is just in the way he's preparing himself for coming seasons now as compared to his early years with Atlanta. Such as in the area of (not) committing penalties.
Poole was flagged for just three defensive penalties all last year, with only one (a hold vs. New England) being walked off. That was one penalty for every 749.0 defensive snaps — the third-best penalty rate by a regular Jets corner since 2004. Here is the Jets' top six in the past 16 seasons (minimum: 700 snaps):
"That's something I kind of worked on in the offseason, just trying to work on my technique more and polish up on different things in my game," Poole said. "That was something I struggled with maybe a few years back. So it was definitely good coming in and not getting as many penalties. That was definitely exciting for me."
Poole has some more excitement in several new faces down on the Jets corner. Two veterans came in, both from Indianapolis — Pierre Desir as a veteran free agent and Quincy Wilson in a draft day three trade.
Poole knew of Desir just from being a student of the game: "Pierre is longer, he's definitely got good size. ... I think his skillset can really help us this year. I like that we've got a lot of depth at the position now. That was something we really struggled with last year."
As for Wilson, Poole was literally a student of the game alongside him at the University of Florida in the first half of the 2010s: "He's a guy that I've actually been in battle with and played in college with. I know how he prepares week in, week out. I'm sure he's going to fit right in with me and the guys."
What exactly are all the new and old Jets corners fitting in to? Poole said he wasn't making any predictions but he had an idea.
"This is definitely an organization that's going in the right direction," he said. "I mean, some of the pieces Joe Douglas is putting in place, I think it's a lot of the pieces we really need. And I think those pieces will really help us get over the top this year."