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Jets OC Mike LaFleur Will Continue to Take an Aggressive Mindset 

Infusion of Skill Players at RB, OL, TE and WR Gives Zach Wilson and the Offense Exciting Options


Anyone who has ever spoken with Mike LaFleur, or heard him speak, often comes away with their heads spinning.

LaFleur is a talker. A fast talker. And now we know one of the reasons.

"I'm a coffee drinker," he said. "I love coffee."

How big is his java jones? Well, the Green & White's second-year offensive coordinator just pulled the trigger on a high-end coffee machine, assembled in Switzerland, that will occupy a place of honor in his office at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.

"Yeah, I'm a coffee guy," LaFleur told senior team reporter Eric Allen on this week's edition of "The Official Jets Podcast." "I just ordered one two days ago, a new Jura machine for the office. I already have one at home. I'm a huge coffee guy, good coffee. [HC Robert] Saleh has one in his office, but he often has his door shut so I have to maintain, so I ordered my own. I love good coffee."

More importantly, LaFleur, 35, has a nimble mind (even when unaided by caffeine) and an innovative approach to directing the Jets' offense that will benefit from the growth of sophomore quarterback Zach Wilson and from an infusion of talent at every position group -- from running back (rookie Breece Hall), to offensive line (Laken Tomlinson), to tight end (C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin), to wide receiver (rookie Garrett Wilson).

One of the obvious keys to the Jets' success in the 2022 NFL season is Zach Wilson using his athleticism and ability to make the jump from an up-and-down rookie season to a master of the reality of LaFleur's potentially exciting and explosive offense.

"It's no secret that when he goes off-schedule he's pretty talented," LaFleur said of the BYU product. "We want him to do that organically. If I call a bad play, don't make a bad play worse. If that means you go off-schedule, go make a play, go make a play. I want to be able to design plays, easy ones, that are keepers. Bootlegs are also different ways to get him on the edge.

"We messed with some wrinkles in OTAs to get him off the spot, to let him do some things that are really, really natural."

With the Jets holding their first full preseason practice on Wednesday, LaFleur talked fast and with excitement about the support Jets GM Joe Douglas has assembled around Wilson during a busy offseason. And though the focus often falls on Wilson's right arm, LaFleur is the first to acknowledge that his offense is a delicate balance between the run and the pass.

"The run game makes you not one dimensional," he said. "When you get the ground game going, you get the clock going, you keep the defense off the field and keep them fresh. If you get the run game going, it opens up that space behind the linebackers and in front of corners and safeties to open those intermediate plays. You get guys [receivers] running and have a chance for explosives."

Bolstering the running game has been a multi-pronged approach. First came the signing of the All-Pro left guard Tomlinson, who has played in two NFC title games and a Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers. Then came the drafting of Hall, the big, record-setting running back from Iowa State to team in the offensive backfield with second-year man Michael Carter and others.

"Laken shows up every single day," LaFleur said. "He has a known track record, he doesn't miss practice, is always available and brings the right mindset to the offense. He's a great locker room guy. Any time you bring in guys who have won at a high level, it's going to help everyone else. He's been there, done that."

The addition of Tomlinson caused the shift of second-year guard Alijah Vera-Tucker to the right side, a place he also saw time while playing at USC. It was a move AVT quickly embraced, impressing his coaches and teammates with his team-first mentality.

"When we asked him, it's just AVT's mentality, he said 'I'm good whatever you need.' You want to keep guys in the same position as much as possible, but that's not the reality," LaFleur said. "There are injuries and guys do get shuffled around. To move him just made sense, and to have AVT in his second year, we couldn't be more excited to have that tandem [with Tomlinson] and then there's [Connor] McGovern in middle [at center]."

See the Jets' full roster at training camp.

Asked about the competition at left tackle between veteran George Fant and Mekhi Becton, who is coming back from a knee injury, LaFleur said matters would be sorted out in training camp.

"It will play out organically," LaFleur said. "George only got better as last year went on. He approaches each day like a true pro. Getting Mekhi back will be huge, it's unfortunate how he went down last year. That's a large man with a lower body injury. We just don't understand -- he's that big, we don't know what it's like coming back at that size."

The additions in free agency of Uzomah (who went to the Super Bowl with Cincinnati last season) and Conklin will provide Wilson with a "security blanket" and additional options while also contributing to the run (and protection) games. The drafting of Garrett Wilson at No. 10 overall, the return from injury of Corey Davis and Elijah Moore, the re-signing of Braxton Berrios and the strong play in OTAs and minicamp of Jeff Smith and Denzel Mims provide LaFleur and Zach Wilson with a wide range of weapons as he grows into the position in Year 2.

"He wants to know everything," LaFleur said about his QB. "I do believe he is trying to soak it all in but not worrying about it so much."

He added: "My job is to put guys in the best position to be successful. I like to think aggressively. I learned from Kyle [49ers coach Kyle Shanahan], he's as aggressive as they come. He's not going to stop and will try to score every time they have the ball. I want to get the ball in playmakers' hands and go let them play. That's what I took from Kyle and it's what stays with me."

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