Offensive Coordinator Mike LaFleur, 6.1

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Brian Costello, Robert Saleh, he described your quarterback as “beefy” when he came back. What physical changes did you notice when he came back?

He looks like one year older of a man. Just being all the focus since January on his diet and his body to just put himself in the best situation from an athletic standpoint. He really bought into it. Everything he does, he is so fully invested into it, and you can see that it meant something to him. So, he hired the right people that they felt was going to put him in the bets situation to be that athlete that he wants to be from a physical standpoint. He looks good, you can see it in the lower half, especially in his legs, I don’t want to use the word “beefy,” but they are bigger and stronger. It’s a cool transformation and I know he’s happy where he’s at physically.

 

Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Aside from him looking like a bigger guy, have you noticed some changes in his performance and his play that you’d hoped to see at this point? 

Yeah particularly the processing. We had a laundry list after the season because you’re emotional after 17 games, training camp, and OTAs, so you have a laundry list for every player. You take a few weeks after the season, you sit back and go through the process of evaluating the scheme and the players, you really start to pinpoint the two or three things that you want to focus on. It was good to be able to say, ‘Hey, you know what, that was as big of a problem, lets focus on these two or three things.’ And you’re seeing that from a physical standpoint. From a mental standpoint and obviously all of these guys going into year two, whether it be the rookies or even a guy like Corey Davis when you’re in an offense for the second year, you don’t have to learn what words mean anymore. Now you just have to learn how can I be the most detailed with it and play the fastest I can to perform on Sunday’s. That’s been two really cool things. And last, just in the huddle. He’s so comfortable before I give him a play, he’s dapping up everybody else and talking to them as I’m saying the play. That tells you right there he kind of knows what’s being said and can relay it to the guys. It’s been pretty cool from all those angles.

 

Ryan Dunleavy, New York Post: You mentioned Corey Davis, how does he look coming back from injury? How is he responding to Garrett Wilson coming in and how can they help each other?

He looks great. Just like Zach, just like a lot of these guys, everyone’s focus is a little bit different in their three or four months that they’re not in the building and his was getting healthy and career longevity. I know he’s put a lot of time in in Nashville. He looks great. He’s always looked the part from a physical standpoint. He looks good, he’s moving good. There’s that balance of these OTA’s and phase two of getting a lot of work with Zach because Zach’s only a second year so there’s still a timing element between those two. But also making sure that he’s in tip-top shape come September. He’s going into his sixth year, so anytime you’ve played in this league for six years and been a first round pick, as Garrett is, he’s going to have some pieces of advice that I’m not even going to hear that will just be player to player, vet to rookie, so I know he’s helping him there.

 

Steve Serby, New York Post: What did you learn last year as a first time play caller? How do you think you have evolved from the start of last season to the end of last season? 

That’s a tough one. I think I said this last December/January, you’re just kind of in the moment. What I learned is more about our players and what our scheme for the New York Jets is going to be compared to wherever else I’ve been. We were different in Cleveland in ‘14 and going to Atlanta with Matt Ryan and Julio (Jones), our offense evolved in San Francisco to where it got to with guys like Deebo (Samuel) and stuff like that. Every year the system and the foundation is the same. The faster you figure out what your players can do best and what your eleven guys are going to do, then you evolve with it. It doesn’t matter what the system is, tis what your players can do and putting them in the right position to be successful.

 

(follow up) Is it a fun job?

It is a fun job. And I said this last year too, this is everything I’ve wanted personally. I hate to use the word “I” but it’s everything I wanted. I wanted to be in front of that room through the good, through the bad, and see what my body would go through and I enjoyed it. I really enjoyed it and I couldn’t wait to get back and get working with them.

 

Steve Serby, New York Post: The offense struggled at the start, how difficult was that on you?

On me, not so much. It was difficult watching our players struggle. In terms of us not being successful as an offense, I’m always going to put it on myself as the coordinator. I’m the one calling the plays and putting together a plan with our staff. When it’s not working in this league, that’s not fun. A part of the fun is getting in on Monday’s, correcting it, getting in on Wednesday’s, giving them a new plan and then, getting them to buy into the plan. When you’re not having success, doubt it going to creep in and we have to keep it real with the guys and find ways to make sure doubt didn’t creep in. I think we did that and we grew together as a group. We developed trust for each other from player to coach and coach to player.

 

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY: With the quarterback in year two and the players now knowing the offense a little better along with all the new pieces, are you kind of anxious to see how much better this unit can be this year?

Certainly. You want to be the best you can but what I’m anxious for right now is seeing how we can get through these OTAs. And that’s the truth. September is a long way away, even putting the pads on for training camp is long ways away.  Right now, the focus is for each and every individual to get as good as they can and connect as much as they can in terms of off the field, but obviously on the field also with the timing aspect of it, particularly from the past game. That kind of what these OTAs have turned into, it’s turned into a passing camp. The run game is more of that jog-through so the focus right now is being as good as we can be.

 

Al Iannazzone, Newsday: What do you see from Garrett Wilson? What do you think he’s going to be able to bring to this offense?

Well, everyone has studied him in their own way in this room. The thing you don’t know until you get someone in the building is how much they care about learning the ins and outs, the details of the scheme, and the details of the route running. He is so locked into that stuff and I’m probably understating that. You knew that talking with the coaches at Ohio State and all the awesome work our scouts do. But until you actually see it in person, and you can look into someone’s eyes knowing that, ‘Wow, this does mean something to him,’ in terms of learning it as fast as humanly possible. That’s what’s been really cool, he’s a rookie so he’s going to go through his ups and downs like they all do, hopefully more ups. I preach to these guys urgency because this league does not wait for anybody, coaches or players. You don’t have to wait until year two to be the best player you can be, we can get it done now but we have to be urgent with our focus.

 

Rich Cimini, ESPN: Zach’s completion (percentage) was like 55 last year? Give or take a point. How can you make him a more accurate passer? Or how can he make himself more accurate?

I think I did say this in December too, a lot of his issues were maybe trying to see too much as opposed to this offense has turned into pure progressions, so you really don’t even need to know what eight or nine guys on defense are doing. We kind of laugh at that now in the quarterback room, it really doesn’t matter what they’re doing over there, you just go through your progressions, read with your feet, and you get the ball out. So, if you’re looking in the right spots, even last year when he was looking in the right spots, his body followed. He’s an accurate quarterback and he has been his whole career. One of the biggest focuses was the eyes, getting your eyes in the right spot at the right time. That is a focus that we are going to continue through these last OTAs obviously and then throughout training camp to make sure that we are ready to roll in September.

 

Connor Hughes, The Athletic: You guys had a lot of quarterback coaches involved last year. This year its been trimmed down a little bit, you know (Rob) Calabrese is in there, you’re in there. I know it was beneficial having those guys, but how do things changed this year?

It’s been good just to have just the two voices. In terms of what we feel that quarterback room needs now, last year was well documented that we went in with a plan and the plan changed. Out of everyone’s circumstance and it sucked. We brought in Matt Cavanaugh, and he helped me in ways, and Zach, and the quarterback room, just having that experience playing in the league and coaching in the league. And then (John) Beck just being a familiar voice for him, but we got to all step back in January to think about what’s going to be best for (Wilson), for Mike White, and obviously for Joe (Flacco). Its been really good. I have so much confidence in Rob Calabrese. We’ll see what the results bring, but he is a really great football coach, communicator, and person. He’s been phenomenal, he sees things really well.

 

DJ Bien-Aime, New York Daily News: How difficult will it be to add in all these pieces for you, you you have another receiver, running back and two new tight ends, so how difficult will it be to integrate all these new pieces for you?

I hope not too difficult. There is only one ball and I’m sure we’ll have that conversation in the room at some point. Ultimately, if you have the right guys, organically, it will all figure itself out and they’ll understand. Guys just want to move the ball and have success. You want to provide them that success, but each and every week could be a bit different. Going off of my past experiences in 2016 with Julio, he was going to get a lot of targets, but the ball still got spread around to Devonte Freeman, (Mohamed) Sanu, and Austin Hooper. We ran the ball well. In 2019, our starting receivers in the beginning of the year were way different by the time that Deebo (Samuel) got going as a rookie to the trading for Emmanuel Sanders to Kendrick Bourne coming on, to George Kittle still being who George Kittle was, and on top of our run game. That’s a very good problem to have, were young, guys are still learning how to play. But we got pieces to work with and it will be a fun challenge getting this thing to mesh together.

 

Mike Kaye, Pro Football Network: Reflecting back on last year and the process of evaluating Zach, and now seeing what he’s done the last year, what did you learn about yourself as a quarterback evaluator and as the main offensive voice for this organization?

Again, that’s a good question. That evaluation process seems like so long ago and again, as I answered with Garrett, you don’t really know everything about someone, even though you put so much time into it, you have to get around them. I’m not going to answer your question in terms of what I’ve learned from being an evaluator, it’s just learning about the person and what it takes to get him to understand what you’re saying, and all these guys, but the question being towards Zach, and making it hit within our offense and what you’re teaching.

 

Steve Serby, New York Post: Do you feel any pressure, I don’t know if that’s the right word, to help get Zach to another level?

Pressure, no, urgency, yes. This league doesn’t care. If you don’t like pressure in this league, then you are in the wrong league. You better be able to just deal with that. The urgency to get it done the right way and in an urgent matter, we have to get better every single day starting right now. I know we play Baltimore Week One, I have no idea who we play Week Two and I don’t care. I really don’t care about Baltimore right now, I just care about our guys, our quarterback room, and our entire unit getting better right now.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: How do you plan on figuring out the tackle situation, which side George (Fant) is on, which side Mekhi (Becton) is on? Especially since neither of them are on the field right now.

I talked to George on Thursday of last week, FaceTimed him, and he had a full on sweat going from Florida, working on what he needs to work on. That stuff is going to work itself out, it always does. Right now, the focus doesn’t have to be who our 11 starters are. It has to be each and every guy getting a little bit better. We know Mekhi not being here, and I know you all know this, he just had a kid. It’s going to be cool. He is going to be a cool dad. He is going to have a big smile on his face when he gets back here. Obvioulsy he’s putting himself in the best situation to come through and be the best Mekhi that he can be.

 

Bob Glauber, Newsday: Did you say before  that you wanted to see what your body could go through?

Yes, that’s kind of how I’ve always explained it, even before last year to myself, my wife, and my family. Some people don’t want to do this, and I want to see what kind of heart rate I’d have when I got in front of the room on a Monday after we didn’t play well. You’re in front of 30 or so grown men that want to figure out how we are going to win in this league. When you win in this league, it suits everybody, most importantly the players. When you’re not winning, as a leader and as a coordinator, you have to figure that out and figure out verbally how to talk to them, motivate them, and get them to believe. That’s what I wanted before the season and that’s exactly what went on throughout the season. I liked how I responded to it personally.

 

Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Is that why Saleh said you’re going to the gym?

The gym might be because my wife loves to work out and if I don’t right now, it’s going to be bad.

 

DJ Bien-Aime, New York Daily News: To follow up on Rich’s question, you said the eight defenders don’t really matter when it comes to pure progression, so how does a quarterback determine where his eyes should be pre or post snap?

That is such an awesome question because there’s so many different facets within a passing game in this league. You have quick game, your quick hitting dropback, what we call completion plays, you got your intermediate games where you take a seven-step drops, getting double chips just so your protection can hold up, you’ve got your turn your back play pass game that’s going to take your vertical shots. Each play, however many concepts we have, let’s say we have 60 of them, 10 will go into each category. How can you make out of those 10? It looks a little to a defense, but seven of those ten are literally quarterbacked the exact same play so your eyes go to the exact same spot. As you go through full speed OTAs and training camp, yeah, you get the full speed rep because that real football. That’s why the walk throughs are so important just for a quarterback to train his eyes to hear the play call, go back to what you learned in the film room, even without the film, the board work and go through that process of getting my eyes in the right spot. If I’m not throwing a ball over 10 yards, why do I care where the safeties are? You don’t, you just look at number one. If one is open within the timing of what we’ve taught in our foot work and those routes, you throw it to him. If not, you progress the two, and then decide as I’m getting down to a check down, pocket collapse, do I run and go make a play, which Zach does very well, or do I get the ball to the check down? That’s whatever he’s feeling at that moment, any quarterback, because you just never know. It’s all going to be a little different. That’s a good question and I feel that’s something that Rob, myself, and the quarterbacks have really honed in on in terms of being able to group that stuff together.

 

Andy Vasquez, The Record: You guys have prioritized tight end during the offseason, so how do you think that’s going to help you have these experienced guys as a play caller? How do you think it can help Zach?

I loved our tight end room last year, in terms of just the guys. It was unfortunate that (Tyler) Kroft and Ryan (Griffin) didn’t stay as healthy as they would have liked. I felt bad for them in that process, but it’s the league. We brought in two tight ends that we feel can help us. C.J. (Uzomah) being a guy that had a great year last year and great years before that coming in 2015. Not only that, you brought in a guy that came in from a locker room that went to the Super Bowl last year which is such an underrated component to free agency and bringing in the right people. Then you have (Tyler) Conklin who has been in for four years and played basketball early on in his career at Northwood and transferred to Central . He goes undrafted because he wasn’t a real football player to the scouts and next thing you know after (three) years, he turns it up and has the best year last year. On top of it, he’s only, I believe, missed one game in his career, maybe zero, I might be mixing that up. To have that availability from a guy who I believe has his best football in front of him and has been able to stay on the field every game of his career is such a plus and such an underrated component. 

 

 

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