Get ready Jet fans. The third phase of Gang Green’s off-season has kicked off with the launch of OTAs this week.
The Jets entered the offseason with plenty of assets to imbue their roster with talent and have managed to get players who can supercharge their rebuild after finishing 4-13 in 2021.
The Jets have 10 OTA exercises, all voluntary, over the next three weeks. Then the mandatory minicamp starts from June 14-16.
Robert Saleh said there would be no 11-on-11 sessions to reduce the load on defensive and offensive linemen, meaning more 7-on-7s.
But here are two more interesting stories to follow during the OTA.
better wilson in two years
Around this time last year, Wilson joined the Jets as the No. 2 pick—after dominating his final year at BYU—and big hopes were created.
Wilson would enter the coming season with valid questions surrounding him after the first year in which he hurled nine touchdowns, 2,334 yards with 11 interceptions, and completed 55% of his passes.
Second year QB will no longer be classified along the rookie curve. If they hope to one day be an AFC contender, they should accelerate their growth in the two years since their rebuilding with the Jets. OTA would be a good checkpoint to evaluate his growth.
There is not much within the OTA that will address the questions either positively or negatively. If Wilson looks terrible, it won’t be an indictment and if he tears down the Jets’ defense, it won’t put him in the Hall of Fame.
Wilson will have days when he produces tantalizing throws as he is under slight pressure from the defense – no pad means a low level of difficulty for the QB.
But more importantly, what Wilson’s mental process looks like. He must organize the crime by showing a strong command of the playbook and guiding his teammates to the right places.
And he must go through his strides with a high degree of efficiency, minimizing the time he takes to catch the ball during the defense reading before firing across the field. This is something he struggled with last year.
Those small details matter more and are harder to catch during non-padded practice.
What should help, his all-around better pass catcher talent, three receivers who can purposefully seek the No. 1 receiver goal: Corey Davis; Eliza Moore, a promising second year talent; and Garrett Wilson, the No. 10 overall pick in 2022. Free-agent signings Tyler Conklin and CJ Uzoma should revive the Jets’ tight end position – which had been a wasteland for the past decade – as Conklin and Uzoma combined for 110 catches last season. , 1,086 yards and eight touchdowns.
These are the building blocks of Wilson’s continued growth into the man of the franchise.
Reed and Sauce
The Jets revamped their cornerback room when they added DJ Reed and the 2022 No. 4 overall pick, Cincinnati’s Ahmed “Sauce” Gardner.
During the OTAs, all eyes will be on the pair to show off the playmaking abilities that led the Jets to acquire them. Gardner and Reed must challenge the Jets starting trio of Garrett Wilson, Davis and Moore and make Zach Wilson’s life a little difficult during practice.
It will make both sides better.
Last season, the Jets had Bryce Hall, Brandin Echols, Isaiah Dunn, Javelin Guidry and Michael Carter II in the cornerbacks. It was a good group, but the Jets brass knew the unit still needed to be addressed.
According to Next Gen Stats, when QBs threw wide receivers outside the number last year, the Jets allowed 1,419 yards, the fourth-most in the NFL. Ninth highest, with a passer rating of 101.
Another issue was defending on the third down.
When the QB targeted Hall in those instances, the QB’s passing rating was 129 because he allowed three touchdowns and 22 receptions on 31 goals. Ekol allowed a passer rating of 96 with 11 receptions on 18 goals but did not allow touchdowns.
With Reid and Gardner in the mix, those issues could improve dramatically.
Reid – who agreed to a three-year free agent deal with the Jets – ended last season with two interceptions and a 10 pass breakup.
The QB completed 49% of his passes when throwing in his direction, the fifth lowest among CBs. The QB also finished with a passer rating of 69 when he threw in Reed’s direction and allowed only three touchdowns and 474 yards in coverage.
Reed’s strongest feature was in zone coverage. According to Pro Football Focus, he recorded a passer rating of 67.6 in the zone, which was 27th best in corners. He allowed 30 receptions for 338 yards and a touchdown.
The 6-2, 190-pound cornerback was seen as arguably the best corner prospect in the draft. Gardner has a tall physique with elite athleticism and allowed zero touchdowns throughout his college career.