Mekhi Becton has been a quick study all the way around as the Jets' first-round rookie left tackle. For instance, it didn't take him long to get up to speed with NFL-speak.
"I hate losing more than I like winning," Becton said after Thursday's practice about the Green & White's winless first half.
And as far as what he needs to do keep improving, his mantra is simple: "Just stay tunnel-visioned and keep my head down."
Regarding his play on the field, Becton admits he's still working on things like his footwork and hand placement. He makes it sound like he's learning the NFL ropes like any other rookie.
But then there are some of his plays that have risen quickly up the social media ranks, that make him look like not just every other first-year player. Such as his tossing Chiefs Pro Bowl DE Frank Clark aside like the proverbial red-clad ragdoll on Sunday.
The play many fans focused on this week was the Jets' first offensive play at Kansas City, a stretch handoff from Sam Darnold to Frank Gore running left. Becton engaged Clark and (with just a little help from LG Alex Lewis) lifts Clark off his cleats and plants him on the Arrowhead turf. Gore ran for 7 yards on the play.
"I find it funny," Becton said of the online reaction to his highlight-reel plays. "I mean, that's what I do on a day-in-day-out basis. I've got to keep doing it so I can keep getting those reactions."
And what is Head Coach Adam Gase's take on those clips?
"Same as everybody else has, because it's unusual," Gase said. "I mean, this is a grown-man league now. I don't know if I've ever seen that really happen to Frank Clark before. If you play long enough in the NFL, things like that do happen occasionally. But with Mekhi, he's so big, he's so powerful, once he gets his momentum going and he has his hands on you, it's hard to redirect and it's hard to get off him."
"Definitely, it's everything I expected it to be," Becton said of the first half of his rookie season. "I'm a kid living my dream right now, that's all I can tell you. I'm learning a lot. I'm going against different opponents, different defenses every week. I've got to look at the different nuances that each one is doing. That's what I've got to do every week."
This week it's not Sunday afternoon but Monday night and it's New England coming to visit the Jets at MetLife Stadium. And like any other NFL rookie, Becton doesn't see that Tom Brady is no longer under center, he doesn't see that the Patriots recently have been having very un-Patriot-like struggles. He only sees the red-white-and-blue uniforms, perhaps focusing on the crimson more than any other color.
"It means a lot going against anybody," he said. "But the Patriots, like they said, they're the Alabama of the NFL. You always want to go against the best. You want to be the best, you've got to beat the best."
Becton and the Jets are not the best at this time but they're working on it. One way to tell is the Jets' ground game, which directionally runs well off left end (4.80 yards/carry, 20th in the league) but runs best behind Becton at left tackle (5.59 yards/carry, seventh in the league). The 6-7, 355-pounder is clearing paths forward, protecting Sam Darnold's blind side, and really starting to throw his weight around as a young pro.
"When you see him put guys on the ground and finish blocks the way he does and the nastiness and aggressiveness he plays with, it is something," Gase said. "Not only outside but inside the building, you're watching and going, 'Man, this guy, we just need to keep getting him better because he could be something special.' "