Offensive Coordinator Mike LaFleur, 6.14
[please click photo for link to the video]
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Now that you guys have just about everyone back, that it’s mandatory now, how much can you accomplish this week as opposed to OTAs?
Not too much more. What we’ve done through the first nine OTAs and what we’re going to do through these next two days are very similar. Obviously, getting a few guys back will be big, just in terms of being in the meetings and going through our process, but it’s going to feel like almost the exact same days that these guys have gone through the last three weeks.
Brian Costello, New York Post: You’re doing so little in the running game during these sessions, do you have to weigh training camp practices more heavily towards doing that?
Yeah, it’s always a challenge in OTAs to get everything you want out of the run game. Last year, I thought we were probably pretty heavy compared to the rest of the league maybe because it’s our first year and you’re trying to get the targets down and as much of the technique as you can without the pads on. It was really a similar camp that we had in 2019 when we were in San Francisco, Jimmy Garoppolo was coming off his ACL. We wanted him to be out there, but he was not allowed to be out there in the 11-on-11 deals. So, we kind of went a strict passing camp for the timing element of all that for the fact we wanted Jimmy to be out there. We’ve been through this before, some of us on the staff. It’s been very good for the pass game and Zach’s (Wilson) development. We will kind of see where it goes. We got a lot of time in August to make sure our run game is on point.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: how would you assess Zach’s offseason so far?
Just improvement. What’s been cool about him, I know I said some stuff about him a couple weeks ago, but his focus, his daily focus of what he’s trying to get done, not trying to have a laundry list of things each and every day. Hey, let’s focus on this one thing, these two things, whatever it might be, and stay dialed into that. I think Rob Calabrese has just done awesome at setting the standard and the goals that we want to get accomplished each and every day, each and every week, and Zach has bought into that. Not that he wouldn’t, not that he ever hasn’t, but it’s just been good. I think his focus has been in the right spot.
Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: Is that a big difference from this time last year? You spoke of a laundry list. Did he have to go into last year with a laundry list of things and now he kind of knows what he needs to focus on and what not at this point?
It’s year one for an offense, year one for a staff, year one for a rookie quarterback. Not only did he have to learn our terminology and our system, he had to learn the difference between the college game and the NFL game, and you’re trying to simulate that in May and June which the speed is one thing, but then you come back in August and now the speed ramps up even a little bit more. So, the fact that he knows what to expect come August, come September, you don’t have to talk about that as much. You just try to dial in on what matters right now, and that’s making sure we’re mastering our offense and our job as a quarterback. That’s why I say his mindset and his focus has been really cool to watch, very different than last year in terms of what I just talked about.
Steve Serby, New York Post: What excited you during the draft process of Breece Hall and what have you learned about him since you’ve been here?
He’s a talented football player. That’s what excited me about him. It stood out right when you watched him. Again, I think I’ve said that I don’t know much about the draft guys until we dive into the draft. I don’t get to watch a lot about college football or anything like that. So, didn’t know much about any of the guys, but when you popped him on you saw that he was a special talent. He’s a fluid mover. He sneaks up on defenders more than I guess you could say watching on tape. When you’re there in person, it’s just a different movement style that guys aren’t as used to, I guess you could say. He’s done a great job since he’s been here. He’s on top of it. I know Taylor Embree is doing a great job with him, just pushing him on what being a running back in this league is like.
(follow up) When you say “sneaks up on defenders,” what do you mean?
He’s 220 pounds, and he’s covering a lot of yardage when he doesn’t look like he’s covering a lot of yardage. He’s fast, so he gets up on people pretty quick. And then he’s such a fluid, big-body target that when he makes his move it’s not like a smaller running back when you feel like you have to put it on them. He’s got a big catch radius and I know the quarterback is going to feel that.
Steve Serby, New York Post: How are his hands from what you saw?
Good. I thought his hands were really good. Coming out of Iowa State and everything that we saw from the film, it’s held true.
Bob Glauber, Newsday: Is Zach wired properly for his job and his job in this market, in your mind?
Oh, absolutely. He’s wired to stay in the moment, stay focused, and getting better every single day. He loves this thing – the good, the bad, the learning from it, and showing up every day. When he doesn’t have the day that he wants, he can’t wait to get back out on the field the next day. That’s just all you want from all of these guys from the first guy on the roster to the 53rd to the 90. You just want them to show up with the right mindset to get better every single day and not worry about all the outside noise. Zach embodies that. He just wants to get better every single day, and I think he’s doing that.
Steve Serby, New York Post: What would you say is unique or different about Garrett Wilson?
I don’t know anything about what’s unique about him, he’s just a versatile, good football player. He understands the game. I think I said this a couple weeks ago, you don’t really know how much someone totally loves it at least from a coaching perspective from the draft process because you flat out don’t get enough time face-to-face, looking in their eyes on a day-to-day basis. These guys are so coached up on how to handle that pre-draft process that you got to go with what the scouts are saying, we have to put our resources together to figure that out. You really truly don’t know until you get them in your building, and since he’s been here, he’s been full throttle trying to learn this system, learn the ins and outs of the league. Like I said, he’s a unique versatility in terms of he can play outside, he can play a little bit of inside, he’s got the lower half to separate, he’s got the hands. He’s going to have to continue to learn how much more physical this level is, and that’s going to be especially when we put on the pads, and you go through that daily ringer going against our secondary.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: This is probably a pretty unique Jets situation in terms of you guys have multiple running backs that seem like they can play, multiple tight ends that seem like they can play, multiple receivers that seem like they can play. So, how much of a challenge is it for you to make sure that you’re able to feed all of those guys to keep everyone happy and also does it kind of help that these guys are all pretty young so that there’s not necessarily egos in the room?
It’s a good question because everyone wants to contribute, everyone wants to have the ball in their hand to produce and help the team win. I do think it will work itself out organically. I think some games, some days in training camp, some guys are going to have better days than others. The ball is just naturally going to find them because the quarterback is going to go through the progression. We have to do a great job as a staff of making sure we’re checking the boxes, putting these guys through every situation possible so that we get a full evaluation to figure out what we need to do, what’s best for Baltimore in that Week One. So, I go think it’ll work itself out. I’ve been asked with that much talent, is it a problem? It’s a very good problem. I think it’ll work itself out.
Brian Costello, New York Post: How does Mekhi (Becton) look?
He looks good. It was good to see him yesterday. I saw him just briefly as we were walking. We had a staff function. So, I was able to dap him up, give him a big hug, and ask him about his child. I don’t know if he has media availability or what not, but I asked him, like I think we all would as new parents, how the baby is sleeping, and he just kind of gave me a laugh like all dads would. So, it was good to see him, and I know he’s going through his process right now.
(follow up): Will (Becton) be on the field at all?
He’ll be out there on the field today. He’ll be with our performance staff, and (Robert) Saleh will be able to give more of an update as we go through the process.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: With Mekhi and George, how are you dividing the competition? Robert said, I think it was at the Senior Bowl, that it was a competition at left tackle. Is that still where it stands now, or how do you see using them?
I think I said a couple weeks ago that stuff always plays itself out. We got a lot of work coming in training camp. We don’t have the pads on right now. We got two more days of mini camp, which is really OTA practices. There is no run game. That stuff will work itself out. Like Coach Saleh said, after last season, George has earned the right to go to left and compete there. But again, I’m not worried about it. The best two are going to be slotted where they may be, and that stuff will work itself out.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: I know you say it’s going to work itself out. Any offense coordinator or coach has the same five offense linemen for a substantial amount of time, all of those guys continually say how much the continuity is key and how much of a benefit it is to have the same five guys together week after week, year after year. Do you want to have those two positions ironed out pretty quick?
Yeah, totally. The faster that you can stamp, ‘Hey, this is what we feel like is going to be best going into Week One versus Baltimore,’ the faster we can do that, the better. I think it will play itself out fairly quickly in terms of when we get back, we’re rolling. We’re running the football, and we’re going to see at every single position not just the tackle, but there’s a lot of positions based off the question you just asked with the tight ends and the running backs and the receivers. All of those guys want to contribute. I want to get them all out on the field. They all want to be out on the field. But, ultimately, there can only be five skill positions out there at a time. It’ll all play itself out. What you want in an NFL building is you want that competition in any building, at any level. The more competition you can get, obviously it’s going to be a little more stress on the particular player, but that stress is a good thing, and the guys that can battle through that and come to work and compete every day are only going to get themselves better. In turn, it’s going to make the Jets better.
Ralph Vacchiano, SNY: We didn’t get much of Becton last year. What does a healthy Mekhi Becton bring to your offense, whatever side he plays on, and how does he fit into your blocking scheme?
He’s a very large man that is very hard to run around in the pass game, and then he’s got, for being such a big man, he’s got a great first step to get on players and move in the run game. Our scheme or any other scheme, he’s got the talent because of that. It’s just that elite, God-given size and strength that he has. The thing for Mekhi is putting himself in the best situation for him going forward.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Can you guys have two guys competing at left tackle during training camp like George and Mekhi, then at the end of training camp decide a winner and move the other? What happens to the right tackle?
You’re going to mix and match that, and we’ll work that out as a staff. I’m not going to give it too much in the particulars on how that’s going to go, but we have a plan as a staff right now. Saleh may not give more info on that, but we feel confident in what we’re going to do at the tackle position and again all those other positions. AVT (Alijah Vera-Tucker) was a left guard all last year just like that, “Yeah, I can play right guard.” You want that versatility amongst the group. So, left tackle, right tackle, for sure everyone would like to be at one spot, but these guys are talented enough to where we can figure it out. We have to make sure we do it the right way.
Brian Costello, New York Post: With (Denzel) Mims, Saleh has praised his coming in in-shape, but how has he done in terms of the things you didn’t see from him last year in terms of knowing the offense, route running, those type of things?
I believe I said this a few weeks ago, but just echoing what Saleh said, I think you guys can see it. I can’t speak for how he was at Baylor or his first year here. I can just speak for what I see right now. He’s in the best shape that I have ever seen him, and his teammates have ever seen him. So, it’s been really cool. He went to work this offseason. He got his body right. We know the situation last year in OTA with the stomach virus and all of that kind of stuff, with the food poisoning. He’s been able to not have any of that and put himself out on that field, on that grass every day to get better. I love the energy he’s approached with every single day in the meeting rooms. He’s much more confident in the offense to the point that we can be in the meeting rooms and he’s going to speak up, give his answers, and stuff like that. It’s been cool. He’s putting himself in the best situation for himself to be as successful as he can.
Brian Costello, New York Post: What’s the next step for Elijah Moore in his progression?
Elijah is cool. He looked at me straight in the eye right after the year last year and said, “I want to be the best.” He means it, and he puts in that work. For him, it’s just going to be that daily grind when we get back. I’m not worried about Elijah at all over these next 40 days. We got two more days here, obviously, but after that guys go their own ways. We’ve all seen it go one way or the other, but I’m not worried about Elijah. Elijah is going to come in tip-top shape, and it’s really just him fine tuning his game, being so on it from a playbook standpoint, that all he has to do is just worry about being the best route runner, being the best blocker, and just putting himself in the situations to be successful. He’s had a great camp. He’s a great kid. So, I’m excited to see what he can do.