Well, ladies and gentlemen, that’s a wrap on the 2021 NFL preseason. What did we learn about the 2021 New York Jets so far? They are almost certainly better as a a team and better coached than the 2020 Jets. I keep harping on how great Robert Saleh has been as a new head coach but I’m going to keep on saying his presence, mentality and mentoring ability alone will probably make a huge difference both on and off the field for the Jets. “Motivating” a 16 year old high school player doesn’t and shouldn’t have the same meaning as motivating a grown man who is a professional football player, meaning he is the best of the best at what he does. Robert Saleh and Mike LaFleur seemed to have figured this out by positively mentoring younger players and working with veterans as partners and not as tyrannical coaches.
Now that the dreaded final roster cut-down day is upon us, let’s talk about some pleasant surprises coming out of the Jets training camp experience since July. The obvious positive spin from camp is the fact that QB Zach Wilson seems to be the real deal and brings some excitement to the Jets organization. Maybe he will pan out to be a great draft pick and help this team rebuild an offense that looked like it was hooked up to life support all last season. At any rate, Wilson looks the part and certainly acts the part of a young, enthusiastic QB who wants to be taking every snap. Yes, Wilson was rested for the last preseason game against the Eagles which was probably a very, very smart move by Robert Saleh. Getting a few more preseason reps in is great but not when you could have your top draft pick go down in a season-ending injury for a meaningless game (it ended in a 31-31 tie, how about that for ending the preseason?) Nevertheless, Wilson should be ready to start the season in two weeks and will have his first chance against former Jets QB Sam Darnold and the Carolina Panthers come September 12th.
Who will back up Zach Wilson? Mike White seems to be the apparent backup QB but he was injured against the Packers. Both veteran Josh Johnson and James Morgan had their moments against the Eagles to plead their respective cases to stay on the roster. The nod may go the veteran Johnson as the 3rd string QB because of his experience with James Morgan either being released and picked up by another team or assigned to the Jets practice squad. With the way QB injuries go in the NFL, any team that doesn’t have their hands on at least three QB’s ready to go could end up paying the price and Morgan may be needed albeit on the practice squad just in case fast, powerful edge rushers make quick work of the Jets QB corps.
Another positive spin on the Jets training camp has been the resurgence of Denzel Mims. I won’t lie, I used to watch Mims at Baylor and thought he was a great WR and his early lagging in training camp was a mystery to me. I’m proud of this young man for stepping up and doing whatever it takes to get on the field and volunteering his body for special teams. As an old football coach myself, the player who makes 20 yards after a catch and throws his body in on blocks and makes tackles on special teams is a player I would have no problem finding a roster spot for and Mims has earned his sophomore season with the Jets.
Matt Ammendola has taken full advantage of his free agent signing and probably found himself a home with the Jets this season. All he has done is make every kick he has been asked to make including multiple FG’s and he will make a great addition as a special teams weapon this year. Training camp is all about feast or famine and Matt Ammendola moved himself up to the big table and enjoyed the buffet and proved he can pay the check. I hope his strong leg will be very busy this season and Ammendola will prove to be a great addition to the Jets roster.