Sam Darnold and the Jets’ offense weren’t very sharp in this week’s minicamp. Yes, they’re learning a whole new system. But they’re also facing a whole new defense that has the offense guessing on every play.
Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is known as a mad scientist, someone who dials up all different types of blitzes and fronts that confuse offenses. He’s already doing that with his unit, and to the Jets’ offense, and they’re not even in pads yet.
“Even the offensive line was like, ‘Wow, are guys really running this stuff all year?’ ” defensive end Leonard Williams said. “They were like, ‘Wow, you’re running so many stunts, so many blitzes, so many games that it’s hard to pick up what we’re doing.’ It says a lot about Gregg Williams’ defense.”
Since Adam Gase arrived as coach so much attention has been put on the offense and what he can do for Darnold. But the defense should be much improved with inside linebacker C.J. Mosley quarterbacking the defense, and the aggressive and loud Gregg Williams directing the unit.
Seeing it every day in training camp and practice should help Darnold as well.
“It’s challenging,” Darnold said. “Going up against Gregg’s defense is hard but it’s definitely making me better. I can say the same thing about last year with coach [Todd] Bowles. Those defenses are hard to go against and when you see it every day at practice it just prepares you that much more for the game.
“It’s a great opportunity to get better. It is for all of our guys and our coaching staff. It’s awesome to be able to go against that every day.”
Gase canceled Thursday’s third day of minicamp, and took the players off-site on a team-building activity. They will be back on the field next week for the final four OTAs. That means more opportunities to face Williams’ defense.
Darnold threw two interceptions on Tuesday during team-period work, and overthrew his receivers on a few occasions. But he also made a brilliant pass to Robby Anderson after he ran the wrong route.
Gase was not happy with the interceptions, but he sees signs of growth from Darnold, and he believes all this experience will make him better in September.
“It’s all valuable,” Gase said. “It’s tough against Gregg’s defense. You’re getting multiple looks day in and day out and it’s not slowing down. The good thing is when we hit training camp we start over, now he’s heard all this stuff and it’s been ingrained in his brain and we get better as we go.”
The defense got the better of the offense in the two days of minicamp, and they let them know it. Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams, who is usually the loudest player on the Jets' practice field, expects the defense to continue to win the day. One of the main reasons is Gregg Williams.
“I love him,” Adams said. “It’s like an uncle really. He’s coaching us hard. He wants the best out of us. You can run through a wall for a coach like that.”
The Jets are the seventh team for which Williams has been the defensive coordinator. Seven times since 2000 Williams has had a top 10 defense.
Williams led the Saints' defense when they won Super Bowl XLIV in 2009. He also served a one-year suspension for his role in Bountygate, where New Orleans’ players received bonuses for injuring players.
Williams has brought a point system to the Jets for making plays. Leonard Williams said coaches are tallying scores for every player as they get points for running to a ball whether it’s a fumble or incomplete pass, strip attempts, tackles for loss, quarterback hits and more.
Gregg Williams is generating so much competition in practice that the players believe they’re already improving individually and as a team.
“We’re feeding off of each other,” Leonard Williams said. “Having a coach with a lot of passion and fire like that, it easily spreads to young guys. They see a coach with passion and fire and we’re like, ‘We need this fire and passion as well.’ It’s a ripple effect among the defense.
“When we see another guy make a play and get those points we see after practice then it pushes the next guy to be like, ‘I need more points to pass that guy.’ All that stuff builds up and it pushes everybody.”