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New York Jets OTA notes: Zach Wilson tears up the defense

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New York Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson looked extremely impressive on a Thursday in Florham Park during voluntary OTAs.

FLORHAM PARK, NJ—It didn’t look like this last year. It didn’t look like this two years ago, either. The 2018 NFL season couldn’t even lay claim to such quarterback dominance in Florham Park, NJ.

What Zach Wilson did on Thursday was as impressive as anything a New York Jets quarterback has put forth over the last few seasons during a practice session.

First and foremost, everything Wilson does is quick. Quick hands, quick feet, quick and sound decision-making, and a quick-release immediately stand out. He processes the play extremely quickly. He also placed the ball in perfect spots all afternoon.

Yes, these are still OTAs. No Marcus Maye, Quinnen Williams or newcomer Carl Lawson on the field allowed Wilson to play against less-than-elite talent. And yes, when things officially go live, quarterbacking becomes a much different reality.

To ignore the positives he showcased and attributes that jump off the page, however, is to pretend all quarterbacks are created equal.

Very rarely did a football hit the ground. In 7 on 7s, it’s a great sign for an offense when the ball hardly falls incomplete. On Thursday, Wilson’s passes may have fallen incomplete two or three times in 7 on 7s. In teams (11 on 11 without live tackling), a similar story unfolded.


Wilson’s first pass of the team session connected with newcomer Keelan Cole on an inn-cut. A little later, he hit Braxton Berrios on another three-step job that allowed his receiver to pick up major YAC yardage.

Wilson even connected with a receiver down the left sideline flawlessly. Placing it over the outside shoulder against one-on-one coverage (single-high safety), Wilson’s confidence took center stage.

Granted, this was just the first day the media snagged a peek under the hood, but the kid was impressive, nonetheless.

If you thought “Wilson tears up the defense” pieces such as this one would ever impact the kid’s head, think again. He’s fully aware that getting ahead of oneself isn’t a great idea in this league.

“Yeah, I think it’s really just a day at a time [mentality],” Wilson said following Thursday’s OTA session. “You know, it’s day three, you know, compared to day one. I feel like, not just me, but everybody’s playing faster, being able to react more, not necessarily thinking so much. I think that’s the hardest thing when you’re installing offenses, you know; you’re always trying to think of what coverage, what’s my assignment, what’s my split my footwork—you know, everything.”

Of course, Wilson wasn’t the only rookie on the field. Young Elijah Moore found himself in the action early.

On the second play of teams, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur called his number in the ground game. For the first time in a long time—maybe the first time since jet-motion became a necessity in the NFL—the Jets employ a weapon that can genuinely threaten the defense’s edge.

Alijah Vera-Tucker was also on the field. Although trying to assess an offensive lineman’s individual play from the practice-field sideline is nearly impossible, the five-man unit played extremely well without Mekhi Becton.

Veteran Tevin Coleman busted through the front seven on the very first play of teams. A between-the-tackles call put the offense on the winning side from the jump.

Missing in Action

This time of year has been extremely encouraging for the new regime. As NFL Network’s Kim Jones previously reported, over 80 players are currently attending voluntary OTAs.

On Thursday, it appeared that number held firm—with the exception of some notable names.

The previously mentioned Becton wasn’t present. Marcus Maye, who’s currently in the midst of a contract negotiation, the injured Quinnen Williams, Jamison Crowder, Carl Lawson, Chuma Edoga, Alex Lewis, Corey Davis and Denzel Mims were also missing in action.

Big-time reps

Some of the players who saw big-time reps (unofficially defined as first-team reps or substantial reps) were cornerback Elijah Campbell, safety J.T. Hassell, tight end Tyler Kroft and rookie running back Michael Carter.

With Davis and Mims both out of action, Wilson thrived with the likes of Berrios, Keelan Cole and others.

C.J. Mosley is back

C.J. Mosley was officially back on the practice field Thursday, manning down the MIKE in Jeff Ulbrich’s defense. He looked fine from a general point of view. Then again, attempting to evaluate a second-level linebacker that’s missed the previous two full seasons in a non-live arena is a near-impossibility.

Wherever he currently is in his comeback stage, the Jets’ defensive leader told the media that he’s looking to gain the “respect of fans.”

News and notes

The Jets and Alex Lewis agreed to a reworked contract that will pay him a base salary of $3 million this season (previously $5.8 million) while also voiding the final year of his deal (2022), per ESPN’s Field Yates. Lewis will become a free agent at the end of the 2021 season.

Zach Wilson may have torn through the defense on the field, but he’s still getting used to New Jersey drivers.

“There’s not a lot of traffic in New Jersey,” Wilson told the media. “It’s a calm place, [but] obviously there’s a different look to this city. It’s very green trees everywhere. And Utah’s definitely not like that. There are definitely some aggressive drivers here, that’s for sure. [I’m still] getting used to that, you know, getting cut off about everywhere you go.”

Second-year wide receiver Lawrence Cager hurt what appeared to be a knee or hamstring early during the team session. He went down while working on an out or circus route as a defensive back played him in man coverage.

We almost had our first fight of the season when linebacker Noah Dawkins went high on Michael Carter as he tried to gain the edge. Fortunately, after the two units game together, cooler heads prevailed.

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2 years ago

This just rambled to the Knicks/Nets? I mean really? I subscribed for Jets’ news/talk.