It has taken years and hundreds of plays from scrimmage to unite two Florida men in the Jets' secondary: Marcus Maye from the University of Florida and Lamarcus Joyner from Florida State.
"I told him, when I think about it, I've never been on the field with a Seminole," the Gator Maye told Eric Allen in his "2-Minute Drill" segment on nyjets.com, referring to his new teammate at safety. "It was weird, but we're doing well, communicating, getting better each day. We're excited to work with each other. I'm learning from him, picking his brain
"He can come down and make plays. I haven't seen many guys tackle and run the way he does with no hesitation. He can play deep in the box, and there's a number of things we can do."
Joyner (5-8, 185) played the past two seasons with the Raiders, registering 115 tackles, 8 PDs and 9 TFLs while appearing in 28 games and making 16 starts. Last season, Joyner finished with 66 tackles, 6 TFLs and 5 PDs. During Saturday night's scrimmage at MetLife Stadium, Joyner's PD of a Zach Wilson pass served as an assist on a C.J. Mosley INT and Joyner had another PD that he nearly came down with himself.
It's no secret that Maye, 28, the longest-tenured Jets player who is playing the 2021 NFL season on the franchise tag, will continue to be a key player in the Green & White's secondary.
The former second-round pick is coming off his best season. Maye started all 16 games, intercepted 2 passes, recorded 2 sacks and forced 2 fumbles. He was a captain and was voted the Jets' MVP.
"Marcus is a professional. He's been playing for a while ... so he's been through it," HC Robert Saleh said. "He's seen the business side of it. And just like every player, he's got full control over the way he shows up to work every single day and he's got full control over what he puts on tape, and what he's put on tape is pretty good."
With a new coaching staff and a new scheme, in many ways, the Jets' defense will be following the lead of No. 20.
"There are a lot of great guys in this league, and I feel like I'm right there with all of them," Maye said.
DC Jeff Ulbrich on Jets' Run Game
The Jets' multi-pronged rushing attack earned a glowing endorsement last week -- from defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich.
He said that the running back by committee approach is "an absolute pain in the ass'' to prepare for and defend because of its complexity and the ever-changing personnel, and the varied running styles the RBs bring to the attack.
"There's something to it, that each guy brings a little something different to it," Ulbrich said of the offense now being fine-tuned by OC Mike LaFleur. "The system itself is the strain. There's this run game that is just, it's scientific. It's so deliberate in the way they do everything and the way they block, the way they climb, the way they scheme you, the way they target you, the whole thing. Their run game is exceptional. But then it's the play-pass that comes off that run game, that's where the explosives lie. Probably less that it's running back committee, it's more the system that's really challenging. The beauty of it is, this is as hard as it gets. For us to see it every single day is great for our defensive development."
As the Jets prepare for their first preseason game -- Saturday against the Giants -- Ulbrich is sending a not too subtle message to DCs around the league: Get ready.
"I would say the major thing, and the one thing that is absolutely critical within that offense as far as I'm concerned is, is speed," he said. "Guys that can really stress the edge. If you can get our guys really overreacting to the run, starting to cross over and go lateral, that's where the play-pass comes to life. Shots down the field, quarterback moving, whatever the case may be, it's really the speed of the guys, and they got that. Three of those, maybe four of those five guys have exceptional speed. Major strain, but it gets us better for sure."
See All of the Top Images from the Second Week of Practices at Jets Training Camp
Hold the Phone?
In many ways the NFL has its own language -- relatively new phrases like "red zone" to describe plays inside the 20-yard line. There are, however, some throwbacks that only mean something to folks of a certain age.
In Jets camp last week, HC Robert Saleh's reference to structures for communication that once occupied space on street corners throughout the U.S. elicited a novel question after he offered insight on wide receivers.
"It's different because in this [offensive] system, we are much tighter and we're more in a phone booth as wide receivers," Saleh said. "It's not just playing out in space and having easy releases and having wiggle room. There's a lot more fighting for leverage. ... Your lower half comes into play a heck of a lot more, especially when you're in a phone booth."
Next question: "Do the players ever ask what a phone booth is?"
Saleh's response, with a chuckle: "They don't. I hope they do [know what it is]."
Not only wide receivers get to see how many big men can fit in a phone booth, the description also applies to quarterbacks who find themselves in a shrinking pocket.
In these days of cellphones (and no dial tones), perhaps the only place that players ever will see a phone booth is in an "old" movie or on a trip to London. And what about a rotary dial? Don't ask.