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Jets WR Keelan Cole on Running Under Long Zach Wilson Throws: 'That's Fun'

Veteran Pass Catcher Loves His Rookie QB's Confidence and Says His Arm Strength Is 'Crazy'


When you talk about long-distance football, Jets wideout Keelan Cole is your go-to guy.

Cole, after all, made the trip across the pond three times as a member of the Jaguars, and now he'll return with the Jets this week for Sunday's game against the Falcons at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in North London.

"What do I do? I'll go to sleep on the plane, which I probably would've anyway," he said following Wednesday's practice. "Sometimes you get free time to go around, and I will definitely do that just to get some air. It's been a year and a half since we've been there and I was actually excited."

Cole's also jazzed about the newly uncovered long-distance potential of the Green & White offense, which starts with the ball in rookie QB Zach Wilson's hand and ends with it nestled in the hands of Cole, Corey Davis or any of the Jets' other WRs far down the field.

Such as the 54-yard completion to Cole in the third quarter and the 53-yard touchdown strike to Davis in the fourth quarter, both in the win over the Titans.

Cole's happy he's got his game going. After missing the opener with a sore knee and going catchless in Game 2 vs. the Patriots, he had two receptions at Denver and three for 92 yards last Sunday. But he also had some great observations about Wilson delivering those longballs. to him and Davis.

"That's fun. Think about it. You're running a route and you know it ain't over so you keep running," he said of his tumbling go-route catch that set up Matt Ammendola's go-ahead field goal. "I think it was something Zach had seen earlier in the game that gave him the confidence to throw that one. That was definitely him wanting more from the play than just taking a shorter play, someone in the flat who was open. He just took a chance. He wanted more."

Then Davis' leaping catch really grabbed Cole's attention.

"That was a big step," Cole said. "I don't think you understand, [Zach] really set that up. Two men in the route, one's open, and he threw it to the one who wasn't open. He made that play. That's a big step.

"The biggest goal of the game of football is to score a touchdown. That's what he decided he wanted to do rather than just take a short play or another play. I like that confidence. I don't care where it came from, I just hope he continues to grow."

Cole even speculated about Wilson's true arm strength, which hadn't been on display in the first three games as it was vs. Tennessee.

"I don't know how far he can really throw," he said. "He threw a 60, 'All right, I've got to run and throw it.' I wonder how far he can throw it when he's trying to throw it as far as he can."

We can offer Jets fans some unofficial perspective on those two longballs. From the line of scrimmage until each receiver established the reception, Cole's catch went 48 yards in the air with 6 yards after the catch. Davis got his second foot down as he fell across the goal line for 53 ball-in-the-air yards and no YAC.

Both of those BIAY figures are in the top 10 of Jets ball-in-the-air completions in the last 25 seasons. The Wilson-to-Davis 53-yard play was the longest BIAY in a home game in the past quarter century and trailed only the Mark Sanchez-to-Braylon Edwards 74-yard TD play (54 BIAY yards) at Detroit in 2010.

"I think Zach's arm strength," Cole concluded, "is crazy."

As for packaging more explosive plays into first halves in the coming weeks, Cole said the Jets are working on it.

"We're young, our captain's young. It's just something you have to experience, keep going through it every day," he said. "This is our first team together. It's not like we've been through it every year for the last several years. We've got to keep going through every game till we figure out the recipe."

And it wouldn't it be as sweet as treacle if the Jets came up with that formula in time for the first half against the Falcons on their London stage?

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