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Jets' OC Mike LaFleur Likes 'the Vibe' on the Sideline

Impressed by QB Zach Wilson’s ‘Calmness’ on the Sideline and in the Pocket


Mike LaFleur, the Jets' offensive coordinator, likes to see the big picture. That normally means settling into a perch high above the playing field, analyzing plays, calling plays, communicating with the coaches and players on the sideline.

The coach's box at MetLife Stadium is where LaFleur, 34, sat and observed during the Green & White scrimmage on Aug. 7. Since then ... not so much.

"We're still talking about it with Coach Saleh," LaFleur told Eric Allen of "I was up there for the scrimmage, then down [on the sideline] for two [preseason games]. I was planning to be up there for the second one [at Green Bay last Saturday]. There are a lot of factors. I want to be by quarterbacks. They're still learning the system. I like the vibe when I'm down there. We'll still see about it, I guess."

LaFleur refused to tip his hand about his specific location when the Jets complete their preseason schedule by hosting the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday night at MetLife Stadium. It's the final tuneup before the start of the regular season, at Carolina on Sept. 12. And while LaFleur is the boss of the entire offense, he is also overseeing a corps of quarterbacks that, save for veteran Josh Johnson, has yet to throw a pass in a regular-season game in the NFL.

It's a new beginning for the Jets players, head coach Robert Saleh, LaFleur and their coaching compatriots. Into that mix came a crop of rookies, foremost among them quarterback Zach Wilson who has benefited from LaFleur's presence on the sideline against the Giants and last week against the Packers. In that game, Wilson was sharp, completing 9 of 11 passes, including a pair of TDs to tight end Tyler Kroft and four collaborations with Corey Davis.

"That whole room -- Mike [White], James [Morgan], Josh and Zach -- are football junkies," LaFleur said. "Most quarterbacks are. Zach loves to be in that room. He sees things pretty naturally, he likes being in there and it's fun working with him."

But LaFleur said that people should not mistake Wilson's youthful enthusiasm and voracious appetite for information as anything other than a laser focus on improving his craft.

"[Against Green Bay] I think there was not necessarily one specific play that stood out," LaFleur said, referring to Wilson's performance. "His calmness on the sideline, his calmness and demeanor in the huddle are what stick out."

What also stuck out last week during Wilson's limited time on the field -- in which he directed three drives that resulted in 17 points -- was the growing connection with Davis, signed by the Jets in free agency. Against the Packers, Davis caught four passes for 70 yards, a 17.5 average per catch.

"When I think about Corey, we knew he was a professional, he's so focused on details and perfecting his craft," LaFleur said. "What I appreciate every day is that his approach is exactly the same, he attacks everything like a pro, like one of better receivers in the league, which he is. For us, he fits the scheme and I expect him to do really good things."

LaFleur -- and his brother Matt, the Packers coach -- go back a long way with Saleh. The stops along the way have solidified and amplified the relationship now with the Jets.

"He's awesome," LaFleur said of Saleh. "He's a very good friend, but more so I have such respect for him as a worker, a leader. He's so prepared. He's an efficient coach, he says what he needs to say in few words, which is huge for players. His meetings are electric, guys have fun but get the message. He sees the game well. He's a friend, but I have more respect for him as a worker."

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