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Jets WR Coach Shawn Jefferson on Garrett Wilson: He Has That 'It' Factor

Adds That Aaron Rodgers Has 'Mastered' the Quarterback Position


Shawn Jefferson is back for another go-round as wide receivers coach of the Jets, but as is often the case in the NFL, the cast of characters he will be overseeing has changed.

Aaron Rodgers, a four-time league MVP who is certain to be elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, is the quarterback. A budding star in wide receiver Garrett Wilson is entering his third season. The dynamic Mike Williams was signed in free agency to add a spark. And Malachi Corley, who earned the nickname YAC King at Western Kentucky, could be a wildcard in what promises to be an exciting and dynamic offense.

"Very hardworking group, extremely hardworking," Jefferson said. "They take tough coaching and I think [they are] a very unselfish group. I got guys in the room explaining to the younger guys, so I got a bunch of second coaches in the room that's helping. So [a] very engaging group. Things that stick out about them, they're competitive and they work and they work and they work."

Jefferson, 55, was the Jets' wide receivers coach (and assistant head coach) during the 2019-20 seasons. After that, he worked with the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers in similar positions.

"I had a good time here and I'm just glad to be back here in New Jersey," he said.

During his playing career, which began in San Diego in 1991 and carried on through 2003 in Detroit, Jefferson appeared in 195 regular-season games (plus 12 postseason games), finishing with 470 receptions for 7,023 yards and 29 TD. He played in two Super Bowls -- with the Chargers in January 1995 and with the Patriots in 1997, both on the losing team.

He returns to the Green & White at a pivotal time, with Rodgers returning after sustaining a season-ending tear of an Achilles tendon four plays into last season and Wilson on the cusp of sustained stardom as he prepares for his third season in the NFL.

See all of the best photos from 2024 Jets OTA practices, featuring Aaron Rodgers, Garrett Wilson, Sauce Gardner, Quinnen Williams, C.J. Mosley and the Jets.

Speaking about Rodgers, Jefferson said: "He's the GOAT, man really. I mean, I watched him from afar for a number of years, but seeing him out in practice and some of the throws that he makes is unbelievable. I'm just having a chat with my guys in the classroom. I was like, 'Hey guys, you can play in this league 10-to-12 years and not play with a quarterback like this. Let's take advantage of him while he's here. I mean, this quarterback can literally make your career.'

"I think he's mastered the position, I really do. I mean you should hear him in meetings and everything like that, how he asks questions of guys. He gets guys to try to think on a deeper level like him. So I understand why he's played 20 years in the league."

Wilson, who eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving in each of his first two seasons with the Jets, has quickly developed a partnership with Rodgers that began in training camp last year, was stymied by Rodgers' injury, but that has been rekindled in OTAs, and now minicamp. Jefferson sees a player, now wearing jersey No. 5, with unlimited potential.

"Just watching him on television and everything like that, he's as advertised," Jefferson said. "This kid can be exactly or whatever he wants to be. He has that, if you talk about that it, he has it, he has it."

Improving and fine-tuning that it is now a big part of Jefferson's job.

"When you're that guy, understanding what the defense is going to try to do against you and the things that they're going to do to try to stop you, and the little nuances of, OK, when we see this, you do that," Jefferson said. "I mean really the sky's the limit for this kid. He has that it factor, he has that dawg. And the thing that's really impressive is he works, he works, he works. I think I'm going to have to probably save him from himself, because he works like crazy."

The addition of Corley, a third-round pick in April's NFL Draft, will give Rodgers and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett a physical and dangerous receiver, either in the slot or outside. So far, Jefferson said he's like what he's seen from Corley, particularly in the meeting room.

"He takes really, really good notes, he really does," Jefferson said. "So they're all required to do that. It's just different. He color codes it and stuff like that, so however he learns best, that's good."

He added: "I think this kid can play ball. He can play ball and it's up to me to put [him] in positions, the things that he does best."

Jefferson compared Corley to Jarvis Landry, a nine-year veteran and five-time Pro Bowler who has 713 receptions (led the league with 112 catches in 2017), 7,870 yards and 38 touchdowns in 132 games. He did most of his damage from the slot and had a reputation of being physical.

"When he [Corley] gets that ball in his hand, I wouldn't want to be in front of him. So yeah, he's going to be a good player for us."

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