New York Jets receiver Keelan Cole appeared on NFL Network to discuss his first impressions of the big city and what to expect in 2021.
For one thing, Cole is part of a class of newcomers that should provide instant help and assurance for a new offense led by franchise quarterback Zach Wilson. But with the Jets starving for success against the New England Patriots, Cole might be able to offer some special knowledge in such a task—considering he’s made one of the most renowned catches against Bill Belichick’s dynasty group.
Cole’s most famous grab to date is a jaw-dropping one-handed snag against Patriots in 2018. During the first quarter of an AFC championship game rematch, the former Jacksonville Jaguars weapon got his lone right hand at the tip of the ball, seamlessly pulling it down and keeping it away from defender Eric Rowe.
He was able to get the ball in his other hand as he fell to earn a 22-yard gain and wound up scoring a touchdown three plays later. Jacksonville won the game, 31-20.
The catch was one of many subjects on Cole’s mind during a Saturday appearance on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football. He credited a little in-practice precipitation for his miracle catch when asked by co-host and fellow receiver Nate Burleson.
“Earlier that week in practice, we actually had one of the same attempts, but it was raining,” Cole explained. “When I came down, I hit the ball on (the practice defender’s) helmet. So that is what made me reach out and be more secure with it, because I actually kind of went through the situation in a different way.”
Cole, 28, joined the Jets as a free agent after four seasons in teal. He was a part of New York’s offensive makeover as it prepared for the arrival of Wilson, joining fellow former AFC South competitor Corey Davis and second-round rookie Elijah Moore. The team welcomes back Jamison Crowder and Denzel Mims as well.
Contrary to personal conventional wisdom, Cole isn’t looking to change his game in an effort to stand out. Rather, he said that working with the group during minicamp has him really excited to see what the Jets can do with an ensemble group of catchers.
“We all have different types of attributes, so we can’t really separate ourselves in order for us to do good,” Cole said. “That’s us being there for (Wilson), whether it’s Elijah going underneath for those little short throws and taking it for 80, or Corey mushing somebody on a short little hitch-and-go. (It’s about) me running past the defense or Mims jumping over everybody.
“Everybody has their own little thing but we’re still trying to learn from each other so that way we can all become one room, one receiver room. That way, every time he throws the ball we’re ready.”
Cole further promised “explosives, excitement, playmaking” in the Jets’ first season under head coach Robert Saleh. Fresh off his first workouts of the Saleh experience through minicamp, Cole quickly found out that the new boss has eyes everywhere.
“You never really see him until the end (of practice),” Cole said, describing Saleh as “observant”. “Then he tells you all that’s going on and everything that’s been happening and you’d be like, dang, where were you at during the day.
“But he’s just always paying attention, being detailed with stuff even when he’s coaching you. When he brings you to the side, he lets you know what he’s seeing. That way you can get better within the practice and not just waiting afterward. He wants to see improvement all the time, as quickly as possible.”
The interview ends with Cole subjected to a “New York Minute” interrogation from Peter Schrager, wherein Cole reveals his desires to reenact classic New York City movies once he visits Manhattan (including I Am Legend, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, and The Secret Life of Pets), his Jay-Z fanhood, and the fact he’s chosen to root for the Brooklyn Nets in the city’s NBA activities (having been “told” that the way to go is “Jets, Mets, Nets”).
Cole brings up his receivers on last time when Schrager concludes the questioning by asking which of his teammates would best fit on a panel on The Tonight Show. He nominates Davis but gives an emphatic “No!” when Schrager asks if the former Tennesse Titan has the personality for it.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags