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Jets' offensive coaches concerned about missed time on field

Jets wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson during an

Jets wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson during an OTA at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, N.J., on June 13, 2019. Credit: Brad Penner

When the coronavirus pandemic forced NFL teams to move their preseason activities off the field and into virtual classrooms it benefited no one. This was especially true for the Jets because of the vast number of new players joining the roster for this season, especially on offense.

The backbone of an offensive line is the players’ chemistry and cohesiveness and the Jets will have at least four new starters, including first-round pick Mekhi Becton out of Louisville. Going without any time on the field together before the scheduled July 28 opening of training camp “is going to be a challenge,” offensive line coach Frank Pollack said Wednesday.

Passing attacks also develop more slowly than pass defenses and quarterback Sam Darnold will be working with a pair of new wide receivers in second-round pick Denzel Mims out of Baylor and free-agent acquisition Breshad Perriman. Training camp will be their first chance to develop timing and awareness of each other.

“What I’ve seen is that defenses, early on, get to 100% more so than the offenses. I describe defense as ‘see ball, go get ball,’ so it’s easy for them,” said Shawn Jefferson, the assistant head coach offense/wide receivers coach. “Offense, you have to dissect coverage, look out for the blitz. It takes an offensive unit longer to jell than defense. We’ll have our work cut out for us early on because the defenses will have an advantage, particularly when you have new receivers like \[we\] do . . .

“We have to get to training camp and start doing it so we can make some of the mistakes and see some of the coverages and adjust to some of the defenses we’ll have to adjust to during the season.”

Pollack, who pointed to the versatility of players like George Fant and said the Jets will start their “best five” on the line, encouraged the linemen at the start and end of their virtual meetings to “yuk it up” and get to know one another to promote the needed chemistry. He said they may need to put in extra time at camp and in the first weeks of the season to make up for on-field time lost to the pandemic.

“If we’ve got to do \[extra\] stuff, whether it’s before practice, after practice, whether it’s walk-through, we’re going to have to do it,” Pollack said. “But from an offseason standpoint, guys did a great job from a mental standpoint, and learning the system and the verbiage we need to operate in.” Embedded content [EMBED1][/EMBED1][EMBED1] [/EMBED1]

Pollack said the 6-7, 364-pound Becton fits the desired mold of “nasty guys on the field and gentlemen off it,” but that he faces a steep learning curve even though he is “by no means raw.”

“For any rookie — no matter what his size or what school he went to or what competition level \[he played\] — it’s going to be a jump to the NFL,” he said. “I mean you’re playing against guys who’ve been working on their craft at this level for a few years.”

Jefferson believes the receiving corps did well in the virtual meetings of asking questions to better understand the principles of the Jets’ passing attack. He said time was spent with Mims introducing him to some coverages that he will see in the NFL that Baylor never saw.

“He’s very mature for his age. He picks up things well,” Jefferson said. “And the thing that he brings to the team that we so badly need is speed along with the uncanny ability to make contested catches. He’s going to fit well into our offense.” 

Jefferson felt that the receiving corps did well in the virtual meetings of asking questions to better understand the principles of the Jets’ passing attack. He said time was spent with Mims introducing him to some coverages that he will see in the NFL that Baylor never saw.

“He's very mature for his age. He picks up things well,” Jefferson said. “And the thing that he brings to the team that we so badly need is speed along with the uncanny ability to make contested catches. He’s going to fit well into our to our offense.”

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