FLORHAM PARK, NJ – A look at what’s happening around the New York Jets:
1a. No days off: The team’s mantra, courtesy of coach Robert Saleh, is “All the gas, no brakes”. For Mekhi Becton, it’s “full throttle, no rest”.
The 6ft 7 right tackle whose fluctuating weight was the Storyline of the post-draft offseason, appeared in much better shape at boot camp than at minicamp and has participated in virtually every team rep with the starting offense. There were a few shaky moments on a sweltering day in the first week, but Becton mastered the first eight exercises.
For a man of his size (roughly 370 pounds) and history, that’s no small feat. Teammates said he seems more determined than ever, and Becton himself said his goal is to get skeptics to “eat their words.” There’s a lot of football to play, but this is an early win for the Jets.
“I just appreciate the fact that he absolutely pierces himself, which makes it uncomfortable for him,” Saleh said. “He’s getting better every day. He’s getting more confident every day. [I’m] really happy with the direction he’s going.”
degree is important. The 2020 first-round pick has started 14 of a possible 33 games, missing six of them due to various injuries. When on the field, he has the ability to move people in mid-game. The key is to keep him healthy and in shape as the Jets ride him after passing top tackles in the draft.
Becton is learning a new position and scheme designed for smaller linemen as movement skills are particularly high, but the Jets don’t seem concerned about him playing the right side in a zone-blocking system. But realistically, you have to expect growing pains.
“He’s special,” Saleh said. “Really, the only thing that could ever stand in Mekhi’s way is Mekhi.”
1b. help along the way? The Jets hosted free agent tackle Duane Brown in the Green & White at MetLife Stadium Saturday night. He has started 203 games as a left tackle in his career, but the Jets see him as a backup swing tackle. He turns 37 on Aug. 30, but he was a solid performer in 17 starts for the Seattle Seahawks last season. He would be this year’s Morgan Moses, so to speak. Current backups, Chuma Edoga and Conor McDermott, are not ideal insurance policies.
2. Young buck (eye): Rookie wide receiver Garrett Wilson has all sorts of talent, but he paused as the pads went on. This often happens to young receivers because cornerbacks get more physical at the line of scrimmage.
Another observation: The former Ohio State star is very hard on himself. When he can’t come down with a ball, even a contested ball, he’s clearly frustrated. He confirmed this and said, “I hold myself to a really high standard.” That can be a double-edged sword. You want a player who demands greatness of himself, but you don’t want him to push. He said some of his fellow receivers are helping him navigate the rough spots.
3. Trade? The Jets have solid depth at wide receivers — at least six deep — which could make them a popular team later in the preseason when trade starts to heat up. The Denver Broncos and Dallas Cowboys have already lost key receivers to serious camp injuries — Tim Patrick and James Washington, respectively — so they might be looking. The obvious commercial candidate would be Denzel Mims. He has a solid camp but it could be a numbers game. Right now he’s no better than fifth or sixth in the pecking order.
Mims said he was worthy of a starring role, claiming, “I show it every day. It’s up to them whether they play me or not.” Sounds like someone who might not be happy in a backup role.
4. Paint canton green? There could be a big Jets presence in Canton, Ohio, next summer when Joe Klecko and Darrelle Revis, arguably the two greatest defensive players in franchise history, are inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Klecko is one of 12 finalists in the senior category and Revis is up for the modern era pick for the first time, which begs a question: could the Jets be selected to play in the 2023 Hall of Fame game? It’s definitely something to watch out for, considering they haven’t played in the game since 1992.
As for Klecko’s candidacy, the 12-member Senior Committee is meeting via Zoom on Aug. 16 to narrow the 12 down to the final three. These three will have to be approved by the full committee in January, but that will be considered a formality. It’s hard to predict these things, but there’s a sense that Klecko has a lot of positive momentum among senior voters.
5. D Line Excess: Opposing teams will be scouting the Jets’ defensive line throughout preseason, knowing that two or three NFL-caliber players are bound to shake free. They expect to carry at least nine into the season, as many as last year. If they go with 10, that means stealing a spot from another position, and that’s difficult when you’re carrying three quarterbacks.
In my opinion they have 12 roster-worthy linemen. One of them is Vinny Curry, 34, a respected leader with a great history but he might have a hard time making the team due to the numbers game.
6. Seeing Red: The Jets want to see a lot of improvement from quarterback Zach Wilson in the red zone. According to Saleh, it was “a sticking point” in the first few practice sessions, but Wilson responded with a strong performance on Wednesday. Why is this a focus? Consider:
Wilson had just six touchdown passes in 48 red-zone dropbacks last season, ranking 29th out of 31 qualified passers. Mike White nearly equaled that touchdown total (five) in just 13 dropbacks. The league average for qualified passers was 16.5, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
The action is faster and the windows are smaller within the 20, but the good guys find a way.
7. Leak or no leak? The Jets allowed the fourth-most rushing yards (2,343) last season and lost their top run-stop defender (Folorunso Fatukasi, team-leading run-stop-win ratio of 42.9% in 2021) in free agency, so is it fair to question the state of running defense. Saleh said he wasn’t worried, claiming the numbers were skewed by long runs. He said they actually landed in the “top half of the league” from an efficiency standpoint based on analytics.
So we checked… and he’s right. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, the Jets ranked 13th in run-stop success rate (61.2%) — a statistic that measures success using down-and-distance. Now the trick is to reduce the number of explosive runs, as they can be game-changing.
8. Ambassador of Kwon: One of the early surprises at camp is newly signed linebacker Kwon Alexander, who reported in excellent form for someone who hasn’t been on a team since last season. He was active in defense and on the sidelines and coached some of his new teammates. He was barely sweating as he offered plot tips to Quincy Williams, who appreciated the information.
Injury aside, Alexander is a safe bet to win the third linebacker job, joining Williams and CJ Mosley. The Jets only fielded three assists 30% of the time last season, so one wonders if they’ll find a way to give Alexander a run in the nickel package (two linebackers). As Saleh said, “He definitely makes it hard to keep him off the field.”
9. The book stopped here: The Jets are still trying to figure out why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers put safe Jordan Whitehead on the open market. So far, they’re thrilled with it, particularly its ability to make adjustments before it snaps. One of these plays was highlighted in a film session with the whole team.
10. The Last Word: “The expectations have to be the best defense in the league for a man. …What’s the point of showing up to the race when you say ‘third is cool’?” — Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins
https://www.espn.com/blog/new-york-jets/post/_/id/89954/absolutely-grinding-new-york-jets-big-man-mekhi-becton-delivers-early-statement-in-camp ‘Absolutely grinding’: New York Jets big man Mekhi Becton delivers early statement in camp – New York Jets Blog