Throughout the offseason, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg, Randy Lange and Olivia Landis will each give their predictions to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: What have we learned in the first week of Jets training camp?
EA: In the midst of a pandemic, I've been impressed with how the Jets have handled the new normal. Much of this is atypical from the COVID-19 testing tents in the parking lot to the temperature screenings to the tracking devices to the closed-off corridors inside the building. Meetings are still taking place virtually and coaches and players are wearing masks during practices and walkthroughs. After a virtual spring, I would consider some of the soft-tissue injuries to be expected. There is a positive vibe this group has going and the chemistry is real. This is Sam Darnold's team now and he has natural leadership qualities that guys gravitate toward. The O-line is much improved and you have to like where you are at both tight end and running back (Le'Veon Bell is in prime shape). Breshad Perriman has opened eyes early and Chris Hogan has the ability to sweep in and contribute immediately considering the multiple injuries in the receiver group. The interior defensive line is excellent and Quinnen Williams has difference-maker potential. There is some juggling going on at inside linebacker and the Jets will need both Pierre Desir (hamstring) and Brian Poole (dehydration) to get back at cornerback. And minus Jamal Adams, this is a very good safety group yet. Already a good player, it looks like Marcus Maye has another level in him.
EG: Things can change quickly, the season is only three weeks away and there are a few players poised to break out. Injuries have hampered the Jets early. Three rookies – WR Denzel Mims (hamstring), DL Jabari Zuniga (quad) and CB Bryce Hall (reserve/COVID) – have yet to practice. Ryan Griffin and Avery Williamson are still on the physically unable to perform list, but and are expected to be key contributors. Yet, the Jets open their season in Buffalo in a little more than three weeks. The clock is ticking. Sam Darnoldhas looked crisp; you can sense he has more command in the huddle and a better knowledge of the offense. He's already on the same page as new WR Breshad Perriman, which is a good sign considering the lack of reps in the spring. Perriman has been impressive in the early stages of camp and has shown he can be both a vertical and over-the-middle threat. Quinnen Williams has swiftly broken through the offensive line on a couple plays. Marcus Maye and Chris Herndon have each been impressive. There's a lot to take in, but there's also a lot that can change between now and Sept. 13.
See the Top Images from the First Six Practices of 2020 Jets Camp
RJL: What I learned in the first week of practice is that two of the large young men in the Jets' trenches are thinking the right way. On defense, last year's first-round pick, DL Quinnen Williams (6-3, 303), issued something of a mea culpa: "At the end of the season, I saw the things I did wrong. I was kicking myself. I took some wrong steps last year. It was all on me. Right now, my confidence is through the roof. I'm reacting faster, getting off the ball faster." On the other side of the LOS, this year's first-rounder, T Mekhi Becton (6-7, 363), talked about how good it felt to hit people again and how tough it is picking up all the NFL technique things he'll need to master to be a success in this league: "My technique has got to be good. I'm in the league now, not in college no more. So I know my technique has to be perfect in order for me to win." Both big men talked a good game in Week 1, but as Jets fans know, talk is cheap. In the coming weeks, we'll know if Q can "walk the walk" and if Big Mek can really pick up the pro game quickly or will need a full rookie season to perfect technique. How successful each is will have a lot to say about how effective their units will be in 2020.
OL: A few things stand out after the first week of training camp: injuries, emerging talents, and a fast-approaching season. The coaches are already having to adjust because injuries are piling up, with the WR group and LB corps feeling the impact. Two young guys -- OL Mekhi Becton and DL Quinnen Williams -- have been impressive. Becton has drawn positive words from the coaches and his teammates. "He looks like he's been doing this for a minute, it looks very natural for him," said Coach Adam Gase about the 6-7, 364-pound offensive tackle. Williams arrived at camp in what he said is the "best shape" he's ever been in, down 6 pounds from his reporting weight last year (297 v. 303). Becton said that Williams was one of the most difficult defensive players he's faced in camp. With the start of the regular season about three weeks away (Sept. 13 at Buffalo), the next couple of weeks in training are crucial. Without preseason games, preparation at One Jets Drive is all the game prep the players will get.