What Did We Learn from Jets' Rookie Minicamp?

Zach Wilson, 2021 Draft Class Took the Field for the First Time in Florham Park

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Throughout the offseason, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg and Randy Lange will each give their predictions to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.

Today's question: What did we learn from Jets' rookie minicamp?

EA: It takes a village to develop a quarterback in the NFL and the Jets have assembled a three-man team that will literally watch Zach Wilson's every step and every pass. Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, who will call the offensive shots in the NFL for the first time, was most recently the passing-game coordinator in San Francisco. Equipped with backward hat, folded arms and play sheet, LaFleur is a high-energy coach who Wilson has connected with early on. While LaFleur is a young guy in his early 30s, Greg Knapp is in his 26th season coaching in the NFL and he'll serve as the passing-game coordinator. Knapp has worked with many quarterbacks along the way with far different skill sets including Steve Young, Jeff Garcia, Michael Vick, Matt Ryan and Peyton Manning. The man Wilson refers to as "Knapper" was consistently a shadow of the BYU product and providing feedback throughout the sessions open to the media. In addition to LaFleur and Knapp, Wilson will find help in Rob Calabrese, an East Islip, NY, native who played at UCF and was the Broncos' quality-control coach in 2019-20. Wilson, a grinder who is obsessed with the game and has showed his maturity by reaching out to several of his teammates already, talks like a veteran when he mentions simplifying his reads, making quick decisions and getting the ball out quickly. But there is plenty to learn and HC Robert Saleh has surrounded Wilson with support in waves as he takes these first steps in the NFL.

EG:I don't think there's a ton we can learn from a couple days of rookie minicamp especially, when the practices are split in two -- one with the offensive and defensive lineman and another with the remaining corps. With that being said, there were still a couple important nuggets. Head Coach Robert Saleh said he expected the practices to be a little sloppy considering rookie minicamp was the players' first time practicing in a long time. But Saleh said the ball rarely touched the ground often on Day 1, which is especially good considering QB Zach Wilson hadn't worked with his receivers previously. Wilson also said he's watched highlights of a lot of his teammates including fellow rookies WR Elijah Moore and Alijah Vera-Tucker as well as some vets like LT Mekhi Becton, WR Corey Davis and WR Jamison Crowder. While it had nothing to do with the practices over the weekend, it was nice to hear Wilson say that meeting his teammates at some point in the offseason is a priority. We also learned that Michael Carter II is a quick processor, who is first learning to play nickel (he played nickel, outside CB and safety at Duke). Saleh said Carter II made a mistake in practice and corrected it in the next practice period. Even though not a much happened on the field, there were tidbits that should be encouraging for Jets fans.

RL: It's normal to hear new players rave about a new HC and a new QB, but it's still good to get the unsolicited praise that the rookies had for Robert Saleh and Zach Wilson. But another thing that stood out was, even though the Jets are changing their entire playbook under Saleh, the new kids on the block seem to get it. Wilson says, "The offense is great that we're running." That's good to know, and we can't wait to see if Wilson can not only master Mike LaFleur's shifts-and-motions scheme efficiently from the outset but also do it with greater accuracy than any other Jets first-round QB came in with, outside of Chad Pennington. (Wilson's 73.5% accuracy and 33/3 TD/INT ratio at BYU last season are beguiling.) Defensively, many were confused when "five DBs" arrived with the final six draft picks, but that's because the two players with S designations from their college programs will be LBs as Jets, and both — Hamsah Nasirildeen and Jamien Sherwood — say the transition won't be a problem, so again, good to hear. So this is the biggest thing I've learned from Jets rookie minicamp: Talk has given way to reality. The 2021 Jets will not look like your parents' Jets, or like your older siblings' 2020 Jets. West Coast offense? 4-3 defense? They will look a lot different not only in players but in systems. And hopefully sooner than later, in resultsc

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