New York Jets’ Zach Wilson uses the offseason to build his body and chemistry – New York Jets Blog
FLORHAM PARK, NJ – A preview of what’s going on around the New York Jets:
1. Inflated QB: By focusing on the team and on himself, Zach Wilson won the offseason.
When he wasn’t throwing to his receivers on his “Zach Across America Tour,” the sophomore quarterback was working on his body. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 214 pounds, Wilson will never be confused with Josh Allen (6-foot-5) or Justin Herbert (6-foot-6), which is why his goal was to add weight – shock absorber for the weekly pounding.
“He looks tough – in a good way,” coach Robert Saleh said.
Wilson said he wanted to do it the “right way,” focusing on healthy eating. Those close to him say he has become finicky about what he eats. He tried to put on weight in the past, reaching 218, but didn’t feel comfortable from an athletic point of view. This time he took it slow and steady in order to maintain his quickness and loose throwing motion. He hasn’t disclosed his current weight, but the change is evident to everyone around him.
“Looks like he’s put on some weight,” linebacker CJ Mosley said with a smile. “He’s been in the weight room. Maybe he went to Miami and the [players who train there] proved him right. I don’t know if they lifted weights like that at BYU. But that’s the difference between year 1 and year 2. Your body starts to change, you age a bit and you understand what to do and what not to do. It’s part of being a pro and growing.”
Wilson shows he wants to improve after a disappointing rookie season. He does and says the right things, receiving praise for his mature approach, but it only takes a player so far. It is a production company, and it must produce much better than last year.
An improved supporting cast will help, but ultimately it falls on Wilson. It can start with the little things – literally. In pass attempts between 1 and 10 yards, he dipped 62% — 10% below the NFL average, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. If he can get to the average, which is around two more completions per game, the offense will be in a better place.
2. Staggered schedule: The Jets schedule is, in a word, bizarre. Four AFC North opponents to start the season? That’s a lot of Rust Belt.
Their Week 1 opponent, the Baltimore Ravens, faces the same deal with AFC East. The Jets and Ravens are the first teams to open a season with four straight games against the same division since 2004, according to the Elias Sports Bureau release.
Other interesting information:
The Jets have eight fewer rest days than their opponents, tied for fourth-worst rest differential.
The Jets must travel 7,500 miles more than their opponents, the second-worst differential.
They have the fourth-easiest finishing streak (December-January), based on their opponents’ winning percentage in 2021 (.407).
3. Man of Intrigue: Every draft class has a mystery man. For the Jets, it’s fourth-round defensive end Michael Clemons (Texas A&M), a tantalizing mix of promise and worry.
He’s produced on the court (ranked 13th out of 470 qualified passers in FBS-level pressing percentage), but he comes with age (24), injuries and off-court issues. He was arrested last August for carrying an illegal weapon, resulting in a one-game suspension. He was also cited for various traffic violations on at least five occasions from 2018 to 2021, according to Texas court records.
In the field, you could tell it’s wired a bit differently than most. General manager Joe Douglas called Clemons “one of the baddest players” in the draft,” and Saleh added, “When he puts on a helmet, he goes to a very dark place.” If that place happens to be the opponent’s backfield, the Jets will be happy.
4. Dear D: If the defense still stinks this year, it won’t be because the front office refused to invest money on that side of the ball. The Jets spent $111.6 million on defense, second only to the Pittsburgh Steelers ($130.8 million), according to Over the Cap. You could say they’re paying for potential because only one player (linebacker CJ Mosley) has a Pro Bowl on his to resume.
5. Big worry: The Jets were 29th against the run, and they didn’t replace defensive tackle Folorunso Fatukasi (Jacksonville Jaguars). I mention this for two reasons:
They open the season against the Ravens, who have dangerous quarterback Lamar Jackson and one of the most prolific offenses in the league. It could be a problem. That’s why the Jets are interested in free defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, who could enter the lineup immediately alongside Quinnen Williams.
6. Dead End, no more: No position has seen more upheaval than tight end, which is pretty amazing considering the team’s recent history. For a decade, the Jets didn’t care about position, as evidenced by the embarrassing production — a low of 561 taken from 2011 to 2021.
They replaced Ryan Griffin and Tyler Kroft with CJ Uzomah and Tyler Conklin, adding a sweetener to the draft — third-round pick Jeremy Ruckert. They still have Trevon Wesco on the roster.
“Now our narrow room…scary,” Uzomah said.
7. Special Tome: Do you remember Mike Westhoff? Of course you do. He was the Jets’ special teams coach from 2001 to 2012, an X’s and O’s genius who was never shy about speaking his mind. Now retired, he hasn’t lost his candor, as you’ll quickly learn from his autobiography, “Figure It Out: My Thirty-Two-Year Journey While Revolutionizing Pro Football’s Special Teams.” He was assisted by Associated Press NFL reporter Barry Wilner.
A cancer survivor, Westhoff has quite the story to tell. His chapters on his time with the Jets, which included six playoff seasons and a few embarrassing lows, are particularly intriguing. It covers everyone from Tim Tebow (“not an NFL quarterback”) to Mark Sanchez (“only a manageable quarterback at best”), including the two general managers and three coaches with which he worked.
Westhoff has nice things to say about each of his former bosses, even if he manages to unleash some hay at former coaches Herm Edwards and Eric Mangini. He reserves his harshest words for former general manager Terry Bradway, who “wasn’t my favorite. I thought in many ways he was barely mediocre.” He blames former general manager Mike Tannenbaum for excluding him from the pre-draft process in 2012, adding: “We had gone from a championship-level team to a bull operation, and that was another example .”
He also reveals how his friendship with Bill Parcells, whom he considered a mentor, was ruined when Parcells, in a 2008 letter to the NFL office, accused Westhoff of breaking league rules. While under contract with the Jets, Westhoff, who had “retired” due to health reasons, attended a Miami Dolphins training camp practice as a guest of Parcells. A few days later, Westhoff joined the Jets, who were preparing to open against Miami. This didn’t sit well with Parcells, who thought Westhoff illegally scouted the Dolphins.
“With a miserable letter of chickens,” Westhoff wrote, “he destroyed what I thought was a great relationship.”
Westhoff’s fascinating football life is a good summer read.