FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Brian Winters has no way of knowing how well — or how poorly — the Jets will perform this season. But the veteran guard thinks the Jets are already winners when it comes to team chemistry.
After a 5-11 season in 2016 that was marked by locker room friction, Winters said the atmosphere is much improved heading into 2017.
“We’re doing a lot more leaning on each other,” Winters said after Thursday’s practice. “We’re a tighter knit group than we were last year. We have a much better relationship on offense and defense. I feel like this year, we’re more together, which is, in the [hard] times, what you need.”
There was a handful of incidents in which players bickered last year, particularly wide receiver Brandon Marshall and defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. But after an offseason roster overhaul in which several veteran players, including Marshall, were released, Winters sees much more locker room harmony.
“Then things aren’t going your way, some people fall off,” Winters said of last year’s discord. “This year, I feel like we’re real tight and we’re going to hold each other accountable.”
Winters has turned into a mainstay on the offensive line, and believes there is more depth in that unit.
“I’m excited to see what we have,” he said. “I think things are moving very well.”
He admits it’s an adjustment playing alongside two different right tackles — likely starter Brent Qvale and Brandon Shell.
“It can be difficult at times,” he said. “You’re working on trying to build a relationship with someone, you learn one player, and then another new player comes in. It’s difficult at times, but they’re both great players, so that makes it easier.”