Zach Wilson put in another good day of work Wednesday in Florham Park, completing most of his passes in 11-on-11 situations and connecting on a scoring fade to rookie WR Garrett Wilson in a late 7-on-7 drill inside the 10. While Wilson's afternoon ended with a red zone INT by LB Javin White, the Jets like where their second-year passer is one week out from mandatory minicamp.
"I think he's a lot more comfortable in the offense. I do," head coach Robert Saleh told reporters. "I think he's committed to the process of taking the snap and going through the progressions, understanding where his eyes need to go on every snap. Now, it's just a matter of trusting what he sees and letting it rip and he's been doing a really nice job with it. You can feel the comfort and he still has a long way to go — don't get me wrong. At the same time, you can still see exactly what we were hoping for in terms of him coming back, having better command of the offense and better confidence in his progression."
Wilson, who will celebrate his 23rd birthday on Aug. 3, also picked up a chunk play in the pass game with a throw over the middle to D.J. Montgomery as CB Ahmad Gardner was lurking. And he spotted Garrett Wilson down the field for a vertical connection after the Ohio State product had gotten a step on CB Justin Hardee.
See the best photos of the Jets on the field during the third week of OTA practices at 1 Jets Drive.
Seeking Balance with Versatile WR Group
Although second-year WR Elijah Moore watched the session, the Jets have more options at wideout in terms of numbers and versatility. Moore and Corey Davis are back for a second year in the Jets' offense and Garrett Wilson is showing why he was taken No. 10 overall in the NFL Draft. The Jets leading three won't be stationary with their pre-snap alignments.
"If you know where guys are lined up all the time, I think it's easy to defend," Saleh said prior to Wednesday's voluntary session. "I think that's why, in this system, it was always easy to get Julio [Jones] the ball. Of course, you're going to double him, but where the heck is Julio? Same thing with Andre Johnson back in Houston. If you don't know where he is, how do you double him? You make people communicate with all the different motions, alignments and things that happen. You want that versatility and that's what makes this exciting."
Saleh said offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur's schematic philosophy is to not pigeonhole players. Instead, he'll aim to take advantage of mismatches. Braxton Berrios, who set career highs with 46 receptions and 431 yards receiving last season, re-signed in free agency and the Jets have also welcomed in veteran TEs C.J. Uzomah and TE Tyler Conklin plus rookie TE Jeremy Ruckert.
The Jets will be more multiple next season with their X, Y, F looks, but Saleh told a cautionary tale about 49ers All-Pro LB Fred Warner as it pertains to information overload.
"There was a game against Arizona where we put a lot of checks on him," Saleh said. "It was, to this day, probably the worst game he's played. It was that moment where we as a coaching staff screwed him. We put way too much on him. So, then we find that balance and off he goes. It's the same thing with every receiver whether you're first year or tenth year. What's the balance, what's the breaking point and how do you get these guys to play as fast as possible? To play inside-out, if they can, let 'em rip. If they can't, you just have to pull some back."
The Jets are not without options following Jamison Crowder's departure to Buffalo. Crowder, who led the team in receptions each of the last three seasons, was the team's primary slot with 411 snaps in 2021. Berrios was second on the team with 284 snaps in the slot, according to PFF, but Saleh said more than a handful of targets could line up inside this season depending on the play.
"Let's put Corey in the slot, Garrett in the slot," Saleh said. "Let's put Elijah in the slot. It's really moving parts. You might put CJU (C.J. Uzomah) or (Tyler) Conklin on the slot. It's where do we put our guys to take advantage of the mismatches and that's what I think is really cool and there's where the creativity comes from LaFleur."
The temperature has been raised on the outside following the cornerback additions of Ahmad 'Sauce' Gardner and D.J. Reed. With Reed not practicing today, Gardner got reps with the ones and he brought the heat. At one point following a red zone rep, Gardner and Braxton Berrios had a prolonged conversation and exchanged a few pleasantries. "Those guys can embarrass you in a hurry if you don't match their intensity," Saleh said of the CB pair. … Third-year S Ashtyn Davis appeared to have a pick-six as he was off to the races after corralling a Joe Flacco floater down the middle of the field. … Lawrence Cager, making the transition to TE, made a few catches. … With George Fant and Mekhi Becton not in attendance, the starting Ts continue to be Greg Senat and Conor McDermott.