The Jets will have their 10th practice of training camp on Monday, marking the halfway point of camp. They play their first preseason game on Saturday against the Giants and will travel to Green Bay next week for joint practices. Camp is going by fast and the Sept. 12 opener will be here soon.
Here are some thoughts and observations about the Jets through the first two weeks of training camp:
1. Second-year receiver Denzel Mims has gotten some attention for falling down the depth chart, but there are reasons for his reduced role early in camp that should be examined.
First off, it is premature to say Mims is on the roster bubble. Sources say the Jets still see Mims as a big part of the 2021 team and are not even close to considering moving on from him. Could that change in three weeks when rosters are cut to 53? Maybe, but I would still label it highly unlikely.
The 2020 second-round pick had a rough spring. He contracted food poisoning that caused him to lose 15 pounds after two weeks of vomiting. That led to him missing nearly all of the Jets spring program, setting him back in learning the new offense. While Mims was out, he was passed on the depth chart by rookie Elijah Moore and Keelan Cole, who both had outstanding springs.
Mims opened up training camp working mainly with the second and third teams, which raised some eyebrows. But he was on the field with Zach Wilson under center during Saturday’s Green and White scrimmage. He had a strong week of practice last week and should see more time with the starters this week. It did sound like offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur was trying to light a fire under Mims last week in his comments about Mims getting more opportunities when he shows he deserves them. In the next breath, LaFleur said he liked how Mims had responded last week.
Another thing to consider with Mims and his role on this team is his size. Mims is 6-foot-3, 207 pounds. If the Jets go with Corey Davis (6-3), Moore (5-10) and Jamison Crowder (5-9) as their starters, they are going to need size in some formations, particularly in the red zone. Mims is the best candidate to be that guy to team with Davis in those situations.
So, Mims is behind because of his spring absence, but don’t be surprised if he catches up in the next few weeks and has a big role this season.
2. The Jets’ plan with rookie QB Zach Wilson is clear. They are trying to put him in as many pressure situations as possible now to prepare him for the regular season.
The Jets barely do any seven-on-seven periods because they want Wilson to operate in game-like situations as much as possible. That means 11-on-11 sessions are the way to go with Wilson having to deal with pressure from the defensive line (even if they can’t hit him).
This is a unique situation in my time covering young QBs with the Jets. There is not even a hint of competition for Wilson. The Jets staged a phony competition for Mark Sanchez with Kellen Clemens in 2009. Geno Smith had to beat out Sanchez in 2013. Sam Darnold had to beat out Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater in 2018. The job is Wilson’s. There is no question. Without that threat of having to win the job, the Jets have had to come up with other ways to put the pressure on the rookie quarterback. Robert Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich are throwing a lot at him each day in practice.
Don’t get caught up in his bad outing Saturday night in the Green and White scrimmage. The Jets have liked what they’ve seen from Wilson so far. The biggest thing you hear is he does not make the same mistake twice and he shakes off mistakes quickly. Bigger tests are coming as the Jets see actual opponents soon, but Wilson has done fine so far.
3. One glaring weakness is the Jets’ tight ends. The combination of Tyler Kroft, Chris Herndon, Trevon Wesco, Ryan Griffin, Daniel Brown and Kenny Yeboah have not had a strong start to camp.
On Saturday, Kroft and Wesco each dropped passes from Wilson. A good tight end is sometimes the best friend of a young quarterback. Wilson needs one or two of these guys to pick it up.