As the Jets embark on season three under GM Joe Douglas and HC Robert Saleh, external expectations have changed for a talented team that added future Hall of Fame QB Aaron Rodgers. Saleh, who guided the Jets to 4 and 7 wins in 2020 and '21, believes he has a team poised to contend for a title if they remain focused in the moment.
"I think 32 coaches stand in front of their team every year and talk about winning a championship," Saleh said prior to the Jets' second OTA session. "Realistically, there's maybe 6-to-8 teams that have an actual chance to do it, and I do think we are one of those teams. But none of it matters unless we take care of it today."
The Jets have reached the third and final phase of the voluntary workouts as the team will conduct eight more OTAs by June 9.
"From a team standpoint, you go back to square one," Saleh said. "Offensive, defensive, special teams. Go back to the very basics and you're just trying to create as much continuity as possibly, as quickly as possible, to implement your foundations, implement your standards, implement what you're trying to get done to see if you can build some momentum going into training camp."
The media didn't get a chance to watch Rodgers spin the ball in Tuesday's session as the four-time NFL MVP tweaked his calf in pre-practice conditioning and took a veteran rest day.
"It's been awesome, it's been a lot of fun," Rodgers said. "I haven't been to OTAs the last couple of years, so kind of to be out here, to be in the meetings, speak up about certain things, adjustments in the offense and additional coaching points, obviously I have a long history with Nathaniel (Hackett) so he gives me a lot of latitude to speak up in meetings and just the opportunity to help out Zach (Wilson) and Tim (Boyle) and Chris (Streveler) is a lot of fun."
Rodgers, who has made 223 career starts in the regular season, started in at least 15 games in 13 of the 15 seasons he was in command of the Packers offense.
"I've always wanted to be on the field," he said. "I've always had a good relationship with the trainers but not good enough on their side where they could tell me when not to play because my answer is I'm always going to try to on the field. I always felt if my 80 percent was better than the guy behind me, then I should be on the field. I always felt that was a good kind of barometer for every player."
See the 2023 Jets on the field for the second practice during OTAs.
Zach Wilson Steps In
With Rodgers a spectator, third-year QB Zach Wilson handled first-team reps and was followed by Tim Boyle and Chris Streveler.
In the 7-on-7 period, Wilson was sharp and accurate. The Wilson session included a laser down the sideline to second-year wideout Garrett Wilson, who slid and outstretched his hands just past D.J. Reed to secure the pass despite the flag. Wilson and the offense, however, could not find the end zone in the red zone period.
"I think it's been good," Saleh said of Wilson's relationship with Rodgers. "I thought Zach had a really good day [Monday]. He's been a sponge. I think Zach has handled this as good as a professional can handle this. I'm excited for him because I think he's approaching this in a way where he can grow from this with the mindset in which he's approaching it. There's no doubt in my mind that Zach is going to get so much better through this experience, and I am confident he's going to turn into the player I know he can be."
Phase 3 of the offseason program is voluntary, so everyone wasn't in attendance at One Jets Drive. Notable players who were not present for Tuesday's practice included a trio of wide receivers and trio of defensive tackles — WR Corey Davis, WR Mecole Hardman Jr., WR Randall Cobb, DT Quinton Jefferson, DT Al Woods and DT Quinnen Williams.
Williams, who was named first-team All-Pro and a Pro Bowler in 2022 after he had 12 sacks, is seeking an extension.
Robert Saleh said Tuesday: "I know they're about to have a baby, which awesome. Q, good luck brother. But I'm not worried at all. That thing will get done and he'll be here."
Players who worked to the side included RB Breece Hall, T Duane Brown, T Mekhi Becton, DL John Franklin-Myers, DL Solomon Thomas, TE Tyler Conklin, DL Micheal Clemons, TE Kenny Yeboah and T Carter Warren.
In the 7-on-7 period, Pro Bowl gunner Justin Hardee broke up a Tim Boyle pass intended for undrafted free agent WR Jason Brownlee down the sideline. … Zach Wilson threw a rope to Irvin Charles over the middle. … Chris Streveler found UDFA WR Xavier Gipson down the seam with a couple defenders nearby. … In the red-zone period, the defense stonewalled the offense. Boyle had Michael Carter wide open on the right side of the field, but CB Brandin Echols made a diving play to break up the pass. Earlier, Boyle looked for Carter by the opposite sideline. That pass was tipped and intercepted by rookie LB Zaire Barnes, but there was a flag defensive holding that negated the takeway… Undrafted free agent Claude Cherelus nearly picked off a pass intended for FB Nick Bawden in the back of the end zone, but the ball fell through his hands.