Notebook | Zach Wilson Likes the Jets' Complementary Offensive Approach 

OC Mike Lafleur Says It Was a “No-Brainer” to Work with Robert Saleh; WR Elijah Moore Returning at OTAs


An injection of young talent in the draft and smart free-agent moves engineered by General Manager Joe Douglas has brought cautious optimism around the Jets.

Much could hinge, however, on the quick growth of the No. 2 overall draft pick Zach Wilson and how he eases into the offense of coordinator Mike LaFleur. In many ways, the outside zone runs, play-action and throws with the quarterback on the move play into Wilson's wheelhouse.

"I don't know if there's much I don't like," Wilson said. "We got some amazing coaches that put us in some great situations, some very intelligent guys and so many details. The biggest thing I like about the offense is one play complements another and then another and another. It keeps the defense on its toes.

"They're always thinking something looks the same and all of a sudden we throw something else at them. It's the ability to be confusing for a defense and to do a lot of things."

Wilson, 21, looked good last week in a workout attended by the media, completing a high percentage of his passes with good velocity and several touch passes. But without players wearing pads and without raging defensive linemen coming at him.

He said he's ready to handle whatever his coaches, and the opposition, throw his way.

"The game of football brings pressure in general," he said. "That's what makes it fun and exciting. Where pressure comes in is where you look to the future and set expectations. There's no pressure when you look at it a day at a time. It's how can I keep improving? The rest takes care of itself and you get to where you need to be."

See the Best Photos from Tuesday's OTA Practice at 1 Jets Drive

Saleh and LaFleur: Family Ties
Mike LaFleur and Robert Saleh may not have worked together before their respective stints with the 49ers, but they have known each other for two decades, a quirk in the relationship between Saleh and Matt LaFleur, Mike's older brother who is also the head coach of the Green Bay Packers.

Matt and Saleh were each graduate assistants at Central Michigan University 17 years ago. They became friends and Saleh was the best man at Matt LaFleur's wedding.

"Matt and Saleh lived about a mile down the street in an apartment with no cable or anything like that," Mike LaFleur said. "They were trying to save every cent they could because they were GAs. They knew that my parents were right down the street, so they were going to come eat our food and watch all the TV that I was trying to watch and use our pool. I got to know Saleh at a pretty early age."

The two worked together with the 49ers. LaFleur was the passing game coordinator and coached wide receivers, while Saleh was the defensive coordinator.

"I've known him for a long time, I've always looked at him as a really close friend," said LaFleur. "But then obviously getting to work with him in San Francisco, that's when I respected him as a worker. He's very, very smart, but he's an incredible worker, and he's really good with the players, and he's truthful. When he had the opportunity and he asked me, it was no-brainer because of the respect I have for him."

Offensive Line
Before the 2021 NFL Draft, the Jets' former GM Mike Tannenbaum said: "You can't win the NFL if you can't protect the quarterback."

Joe Douglas quickly addressed the team's needs on the offensive line by moving up in Round 1 to draft Alijah Vera-Tucker out of USC with the No. 14 pick -- solidifying the left side of the line with the anticipated pairing of AVT and last year's No. 1 draft pick Mekhi Becton. The draft was after the current GM landed OL Dan Feeney in free agency. After the three days in Cleveland, Douglas brought in the undrafted Tristen Hoge while also hoping that 2020 draft pick Cameron Clark can raise his game and become a contributor in his second campaign.

Last week the team negotiated a new deal with guard Alex Lewis, adding depth to a line that now boasts seven players with starting experience. As Saleh has said, it's all about competition, and as Douglas knows, it's also about depth.

Elijah Moore, the Swiss Army knife of a player drafted in the second round, may have yet another role in addition to slot receiver and jet out of the backfield -- punt returner. Though it's extremely early, Moore and free-agent wide receiver Keelan Cole got looks fielding punts during OTAs. Braxton Berrios is the incumbent, having averaged 8.6 yards per return last season after averaging 11.4 yards per return in 2019.

Moore only handled 27 punts during his college career at Ole Miss, while Cole returned punts for the first time last season with Jacksonville. He returned one for 91 yards and a TD against Green Bay.

Related Content