Earlier this week, ESPN, using its Football Power Index, predicted the 2023 NFL Draft order and had the Jets No. 1 overall. Pro Football Focus placed the Jets 25th in its Power Rankings and that came a few weeks after Peter King had the Green & White 27th among 32 teams. Despite the consensus that the Jets got better this offseason, there will be a wait to change the attitude of many about a Green & White outfit that finished 4-13 last season and has had one winning season since its last playoff appearance in 2010.
But there is a belief that things are different about the direction of this young team, which will conclude its second spring under HC Robert Saleh next week.
"I feel very good about it," Jets 2021 MVP C.J. Mosley told reporters of that direction on Thursday. "I feel encouraged and everybody's ready. When you get to a point where you feel you have all the pieces, you did all the right things to get to where you feel you need to be as far as your expectations, the next thing for you to do is to just go out there and show it. So, we have to take our time, take each step one day at a time.
"But when the time comes out for training camp, we really are going to be out there trying to prove to ourselves what we're capable of and everybody is looking forward to it."
Mosley, a graybeard on this roster who will turn 30 in 10 days, is a four-time second-team All-Pro and Pro Bowler who played three postseason games with the Ravens. He believes what the Jets do now will set the course for an organization looking to turn the corner.
"I really think this team is capable of changing the culture for the next 10 years," he said. "A lot of guys on this team and a lot of coaches who are coaching for this team since they've been alive — they haven't heard a lot of good things about the Jets. Now we have the narrative, we have the chance, we have the ability, etcetera, to really change that mindset, that frame, for the next 10 years and for the future of this organization. The things that we do now, that are important now, are going to be important for this season but what we do now is going to lead for future success when I'm done playing here, when the rookies now in four or five years are hopefully still with the Jets still being successful.
"Big picture but small picture. What we do now is going to affect all of our futures."
In June, hope springs eternal throughout the National Football League. But the Jets have increased their talent, their speed, their athleticism and their depth across the board. And while skepticism will remain until the wins come, there is widespread belief at One Jets Drive in a team that has embraced its culture change under Saleh.
"When you come here, you come in this building, that's your mindset," Mosley said. "That's why we come here to work is to win. If you're not coming here to do that, then what are you here for?"
Turning It Over
Last season, the Jets finished 31st in the NFL with 14 takeaways and they tied for 30th with 7 INTs. Those numbers will change, and they could change dramatically with a defensive line that intends to wreak havoc with a healthy Carl Lawson and a number of additions, including first-round pass rusher Jermaine Johnson. The back end has had a facelift with the drafting of Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner plus the free-agent additions of CB D.J. Reed and S Jordan Whitehead.
"We have a bunch of playmakers," Mosley said. "So far, we've had two- or three-more-times interceptions and forced fumbles and batted balls than we had last year around this time. That's very exciting to see. When the ball goes up, you see the green jerseys come down with it. So, I'm definitely looking forward to that."
During the Jets' first 11-on-11 period on Thursday, Zach Wilson delivered a perfect strike to rookie Garrett Wilson in front of the sideline. But Whitehead made an aggressive play on the ball, forcing an incompletion as the Ohio State product was unable to hold on. Whitehead, 25, is a big hitter who has a championship ring and has appeared in six postseason games.
DC Jeff Ublrich said of Whitehead: "He was stamped by everybody as far as the character. He has absolutely lived up to that. He increases, obviously, what we do on the grass, but he improves the locker room as well."
Wilson's third targeted pass went in the direction of wideout Tarik Black. But nickel corner Michael Carter, who had 5 PDs his rookie campaign, stepped in front and recorded the defense's first takeaway. Toward the end of the workout, during a 7-on-7 drill inside the 10, S Jason Pinnock picked off an errant Wilson toss.
"He's got all the stuff that you can't coach," Ulbrich said of Pinnock. "He's long, he's fast, athletic, he's tough. Just the position is new, and he's got limited experience at it. So, he will be another guy that's thrown in the mix. The cream will rise, just more competition for the group."
Safety Ashtyn Davis, who had an INT in Wednesday's session, came up with his second pick in as many days. This one came on the sideline as the athletic Davis made a sliding one-handed takeaway in front of the boundary.
"It's huge to have a revamped secondary and these guys, it's so early to name starters and to say who the four or the five are going to be," Ulbrich said. "It's created great competition and with competition, these guys will all grow and get better. And with a good secondary, you could be a pretty good defense in this league."
See photos of the Jets on the field during the third week of OTA practices at 1 Jets Drive.
For the first time since the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center opened in 2008, the Stanley Cup made a visit. Many employees stopped for a photo with NHL's top trophy and Jets head coach Robert Saleh took a long look at before practice got underway. The New York Rangers played host to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday in Game 5 of the East Conference finals at Madison Square Garden.
Laurent-Dumervay Tardif, who played eight games for the Jets in 2021 and made seven starts, told the Canadian Press that he will begin a residency program at a Montreal-area hospital next month. LDT, who previously opted out of the 2020 season at the onset of the conronavirus pandemic to work at a long-term care facility -- CHSLD Gertrude-Lafrance in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec -- left open a return to the football field in the fall. "I'm really comfortable with the risk and I'm pretty confident there's going to be an offer on the table in September if I want it," he said. "And if I want it I'll take it. If medicine is going well and I feel like I've got to be out there in front of 80,000 people to play the sport I love, well, I'll go but I think I want it to be more on my terms."
Zach Wilson ended practice on a high note, patiently bouncing to his left before hitting Corey Davis by the end line. Davis got his backside down and would have been ruled inbounds for a score. … Joe Flacco put a deft touch on a long ball that was hauled in by WR Denzel Mims. Later in 7-on-7 work, it appeared that Flacco had another long-distance connection to Jeff Smith, but Javelin Guidry thwarted the chunk gainer with a swat. … CB D.J. Reed and WR Elijah Moore were among the Jets who didn't practice. … Carl Lawson, whom the Jets have targeted a training camp return to the field, had a jersey on and got some work in on the side with trainers.