For the first time since Dec. 29 in rainy Orchard Park, the Jets offense and defense took the field as a unit.
"It was great to get back outside and get them moving around in a football atmosphere," head coach Adam Gase said. "It seemed there was a great excitement by the guys. It was nice and toasty today, which was good. Everybody got a good sweat in, but it was good to get to the fundamentals of football doing as much individual drills as we did, just getting guys working together on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. We'll be going through the progression, which the league really laid out for us.
"Today was a good first step. Our guys really did a good job of focusing on the fundamentals and the little details we needed to work on today."
QB Sam Darnold added: "I thought today was really good. It was a good practice. The last couple weeks we've been working really hard with strength and conditioning. It felt really good to get on the field, throw some routes and walk through some plays. It was a good day."
After the strength and conditioning work, the Jets are in Phase Two of their offseason program, which typically takes place in the spring. Friday they'll take the field for an OTA-type practice. While the NFL has laid out a plan for all 32 teams, Gase said the biggest challenge is planning ahead.
"You're legitimately at one day at a time," he said. "When we talk to the players about one day at a time, that's the whole building. Things can change very quickly. It takes one person [to get COVID-19]. If they had it right now, it can spread so fast and it's about everybody doing the right thing day in and day out and making sure we're being smart with everything we do and trying to balance everything going on with our schedules."
Given the circumstances, the continuity between players and coaches plays into the Jets' favor. All three coordinators return and all the position coaches too (assistant DBs coach Steve Jackson left for CIN in January). Gase said this season reminds him of the lockout year when teams scaled back their playbooks. However, no one met in the spring that year whereas this offseason's meetings were virtual.
"We have to make sure we have our bread and butter during the game, we're good at certain protections and then we need to be more detailed with our fundamentals in our passing game," Gase said. "That's been our focus and if that means we're doing a little less right now and we'll build to that, that's kind of where we're at right now."
Perhaps most important, Darnold isn't learning a new system. Gase has been impressed with the 23-year-old this offseason as he's shown more command in the huddle in walkthroughs.
"I already know the system and I'm just trying to build off of that," said Darnold, who went 7-6 last season as a starter. "This whole offseason was me building on what I already knew, but we're not thinking we're ahead of anyone. We're just working hard and making sure we go out there every single day and make sure we do what we need to do that day and not any further than that."