New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold and safety Marcus Maye highlight a fresh new feel in Florham Park, NJ in 2020.
Yeah, yeah, yeah … I get it. Quotes originating in Florham Park, NJ in 2020 do not differ at all from previous failed seasons.
“This year feels different.”
“We have the right guys to turn this thing around.”
“Finally, we’re ready to have some fun and win some games this season.”
New York Jets fans have heard it all, no doubt. The top rule when covering this organization is to no insult the hardened, tried and tested fan who’s experienced the trials and tribulations of this unique fandom choice.
Still, there comes a point in time when believing the locker room and culture speak begins to showcase truths that cannot be ignored. After all, this franchise is bound to break that annoying nine-year playoff-less drought one of these seasons. Why not 2020?
“There are no egos on the team,” Maye told reporters after Tuesday’s practice. “There are no guys who are trying to do too much, so the vibe is good.”
This was the Marcus Maye, "There are no egos on this team" comment. Not a shot at Jamal Adams.
— Robby Sabo (@RobbySabo) August 25, 2020
Maye, 27, enters the fourth year of his four-year rookie deal (second-rounder without a fifth-year club option). Without Jamal Adams in tow, and without Maye providing us with the “no egos” quote a year ago, fans have already connected the dots: Maye just took a clear shot at his former safety partner.
While that’s highly debatable, Maye’s words stand out when compared to previous seasons.
Maye is now undoubtedly part of the leadership group defensively. There’s also no question who the guy is on the other side of the ball. (Well, there’s no question who the Jets want the leader to be offensive.)
If you were expecting a rogue Sam Darnold in this crazy calendar 2020 year that delivers the unexpected at every turn, QEQBUS has let you down once again. His Derek Jeter-like boring media time once again took hold of the moment.
“As I said at the beginning guys, we’re making strides every single day,” Darnold told reporters. “We just have to improve every single day.
“I think there is a different vibe. There are going to be ups and downs throughout the season. There always are.”
Boring? Sure. Fresh? Sort of.
Since the Douglas-Adam Gase duo took charge, some of the same monikers have been uttered on a daily basis, including “next man up” and “taking one day at a time.” Why it’s fresh in 2020 is due to the media’s challenge that is highlighting an overwhelming personality at camp.
Mekhi Becton‘s size certainly works. Quinnen Williams‘ innocence is another key cog in the Jets’ tough-to-find personality wheel. Even Gregg Williams offers sound bites too good to pass. But these aren’t the 1970s Oakland Raiders. When these guys are on the field and speaking with the media, it’s one unit speaking in unison.
“Everybody knows the task at hand,” Maye added. “Everybody’s just taking it one day at a time.”
There is no more dancing on the football field while attempting to capture the attention of attending fans. Similar to Odell Beckham Jr.’s camp experience and eventual departure down the street, Adams’ exit has brought on an even-keeled fresh new start for the entire depth chart.
No one man can easily be highlighted in between plays at Jets camp (unless Alex Lewis and Jordan Jenkins are throwing elbows, of course). Even the perceived flash of Le’Veon Bell is tough to spot. Instead of hip-hop promotions and on-field grooving in between plays, it’s business in the mold of, “What’s my best route to get better today?”
Bell has been complimentary of everybody, including Darnold. In his eyes, the Darnold difference between 2019 and 2020 is evident.
“He looks a lot different,” Bell added. “He’s a lot more comfortable. He has taken great command of the huddle. I think that’s the biggest difference from year two to three.”
Sometimes it’s not as simple as talent. Remember, Eli Manning did not truly bust out until Jeremy Shockey found himself injured and Tiki Barber retired. Only then did the New York Giants stun the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 42.
Maybe the less-is-more narrative for Darnold will prove to be proficient.
“Sam looks amazing this year,” Bell said. “It’s going to be fun.”
Instead of a Rex Ryan-like program that declined each year with a clear player hierarchy—as some players were put on a pedestal over others (hello, Darrelle Revis)—these New York Jets are clearly taking the contrasting route—the one that lowers expectations until… boom, it suddenly happens.
Boring, bland and full of substance rather than colorful headlines that shake the foundation of its fandom.
Become acquainted with the fresh new feel in Florham Park. It’s not going anywhere anytime soon.