Mike LaFleur Feels ‘Urgency’ Over Zach Wilson Year 2 Escape

FLORHAM PARK — The New York Jets should be better in 2022. But their biggest sign of progress won’t be measured in wins and losses, as few expect them to fight back this fall.

If their young quarterback Zach Wilson takes a big step forward, it will be hard to call this coming season anything but a success. That means the pressure is on offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, also in his sophomore year, to get it right. But LaFleur said Wednesday he doesn’t see it that way.

“Pressure? No. Urgency? Yes,” LaFleur said after the team’s OTA workout. The way LaFleur sees it, there’s no added pressure because there’s always immense pressure to succeed. when you call games in the NFL.

“This league doesn’t care,” LaFleur said. “If you don’t like the pressure in this league, you’re in the wrong league. So you better settle for that. But the urgency to do it, to do it in the right way but also in the right way. urgent – ​​that we need to improve every day, starting now.

LaFleur said the way Wilson will have this breakout year is to do the right things right now in the offseason program. He praised the quarterback for putting on weight this offseason in an effort to prepare his frame for the rigors of a 17-game season.

“Everything he does, he’s so invested,” LaFleur said of Wilson. “And you can see that meant something to him. So he hired the right people, who they thought would put him in the best position to be the athlete he wants to be physically. So he looks good, you see it mostly in the lower half, his legs. I don’t mean to use the word beefy, but they are bigger and stronger.

Wilson’s physique should help him through the rigors of the regular season. But right now, LaFleur isn’t focusing on that. He knows that for Wilson to make the leap he is capable of this fall, he needs to improve every day in practice. It’s a message he kept coming back to when asked how the quarterback can improve and how he can improve as a point guard this fall.

“I know we’re playing Baltimore Week 1,” LaFleur said. “I have no idea who we’re up against in Week 2, and I don’t care. And I don’t care about Baltimore right now. I care about our guys, our quarterback room, our whole unit that is improving right now. Urgently.”

Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur on the sidelines in the second half as the New England Patriots defeated the NY Jets 25-6 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ on September 19, 2021.

Decision imminent on starting tackles?

The competition at left tackle has been one of the most intriguing aspects of this offseason since coach Robert Saleh said George Fant would have the chance to beat Mekhi Becton for the job.

But the competition hasn’t really started yet, as neither Becton nor Fant have been on the court during the OTAs. Fant is recovering from postseason knee surgery and Becton, who missed most of the 2021 season with a knee injury, is in Texas with his family after the birth of his first child.

Saleh said Wednesday that a decision will not be made until Becton arrives, which he hopes will be when the team holds a mandatory minicamp later this month.

Becton’s health and weight have been a hot issue since before the Jets drafted him 11th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. Becton, listed at 6-7, 363 pounds, finished his rookie season around 380 pounds in pulling team discipline, according to the New York Post.

The concerns are valid due to the stress the extra weight puts on its massive frame. Becton, who missed most of his sophomore season, missed 18 games due to injury in his first 33 games as a pro.

His fitness will be a question mark and a concern until he shows up at the Jets facility, especially after rehab left him unable to walk for much of last fall. . Saleh has previously stressed the importance of Becton being on the field during the offseason program, including last month when he publicly urged the tackle to join the team for voluntary workouts.

But Saleh played down Becton’s absence last week, saying it was more important to be with his new child. On Wednesday, Saleh reiterated that point again but declined to answer directly when asked if the Jets aren’t expecting him here before minicamp.

“We are in communication with him, it’s not rushed,” Saleh said. “It’s not like we’re doing 11-on-11 stuff anyway.”

Rolls go 11 vs. 11 at OTAs

From rookie minicamp until about an hour before Wednesday’s practice, Saleh said the Jets won’t be doing 11-on-11 drills at OTA practices — to keep wear on offensive linemen’s bodies and defensive. So it was a surprise when they spent about 20 minutes doing 11-on-11 drills as the OTAs continued.

Wilson struggled in his first set of reps, completing just one of his first five passes — he threw a pass well behind Corey Davis and missed Elijah Moore on a slanting route. But his second set of reps was better: Wilson connected with Moore and Braxton Berrios before missing Davis with a ball deep to the right side.

Andy Vasquez is the Jets Beats author for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to all Jets analytics, news, deals and more, please sign up today and download our app.

E-mail: [email protected]

Twitter: @andy_vasquez

Teresa E. Burton