Ladies and gentlemen – today was the first time in two years that New York Jets training camp hosted fans… and it was electric.
With the 2021 NFL season quickly approaching, Jets training camp is upon us. It is a time where coaches can identify the talent on the team. For players to make the most of every opportunity, as they hope to make their NFL dreams come true. And one cannot forget, it is a chance for fans to see a sneak preview of their beloved team.
2021 New York Jets Training Camp Amongst the Fans: Day 1
So, I have decided to cover Jets training camp amongst the fans in the stands at 1 Jets Drive. In doing so, getting a true sense of how fans view the team entering 2021. That being said, here are the biggest takeaways from day 1…
Rookies Showing Out
It may have been the 2021 Jets Draft Class’ first time on the gridiron in front of their fans, but they were as ready as any veteran. Zach Wilson was all smiles when he walked onto the field and even chuckled when fans were clamoring over his warm-up throws. Despite overthrowing a few passes early, he hit stride, showcasing his out-of-the-pocket playmaking ability. Wilson had a very good day, to say the least.
Meanwhile, fellow rookie wide receiver Elijah Moore is as electrifying as advertised. Early on during offensive scrimmages, he was running through every route an extra 10-15 yards. Following hauling in a 45-yard touchdown from Wilson, Moore pumped up the crowd, getting everyone on their feet. If this connection continues to grow, fans are going to have plenty to cheer about come September. Plus, if Alijah Vera-Tucker can hype up a few hundred fans at training camp like this, who knows what he is capable of at MetLife…
THIS ENERGY FROM @ALIJAHVT pic.twitter.com/6DSKwhyoBx
— New York Jets (@nyjets) July 31, 2021
Backup Quarterback Situation
For a while now, fans have wondered why the Jets do not have an experienced quarterback on the roster. Wilson is going to start as a rookie, James Morgan is entering his second season, and Mike White has never taken an NFL snap. Well, there might be an answer.
Based on practice Saturday, July 31st, James Morgan may be the frontrunner, and for good reason. During camp, he was slinging it with confidence and poise, something that had not previously been seen. He was egging the fans on and got the whole crowd on their feet with a 50-yard pass to D.J. Montgomery. As for White, he had a rather unmemorable day compared to Wilson and Morgan. There is still plenty of time for White to recover, but he could have gotten off to a better start.
The Robert Saleh Effect
One of the first things any fan would have realized at camp is the involvement of coaches. They are lining up to go over plays with the players. Everyone is being vocal, commenting on each other’s play, and growing as a unit. They were even creative in the way they practiced, such as by using a broom to act as a distraction on punt returns. Head Coach Robert Saleh is creating a great culture here, and it all starts with the strong practice environment he has created. And just look at how he handled a wild Jets crowd…
┻┳| •.•) we're about to run
┳┻|⊂ﾉ through this wall
— New York Jets (@nyjets) July 31, 2021
This Jets team has a lot of battles. Morgan vs White for the backup job being one of them. Here are a few takeaways and updates based on what was seen today…
At running back, Tevin Coleman looks healthy after a poor, injury-riddled 2020 campaign. Ty Johnson and Michael Carter had a handful of good runs. La’Mical Perine had an up and down day, but Austin Walter’s performance was a pleasant surprise that included two touchdowns in red-zone drills.
2020 second-round pick Denzel Mims was a part of the third-string unit. Now, this is concerning, given his potential, and how good he was when healthy his rookie year. It may be because of his injuries that he is being held back a bit. Then again, the reality is the Jets wide receiver corps is much different than in years past. Keelan Cole and Elijah Moore are running with the starters. Vyncint Smith and D.J. Montgomery have made some good plays too. The fact of the matter is Mims is going to need to show out the rest of camp to start the year amongst the starters.
Entering a contract year, many presume Chris Herndon to be the starting tight end. However, Tyler Kroft has held his own and is a reliable veteran. Rather than choosing between the two, it appears the Jets are going to utilize both at the same time often. As for the actual starter, expect this battle to last until the season.
In the Trenches
Along the offensive line, 2020 starting right guard Greg Van Roten has been playing with the first-team unit. He is looking to keep that title, as Alex Lewis, Cameron Clark, and Dan Feeney would all love to take it from him. Right tackle Morgan Moses was also with the first team. Moses, a late signing from the Washington Football Team, is expected to hold onto the starting job. That is unless George Fant has anything to say about it.
There were not many surprising observations along the defensive line. Saleh has the unit running a deep rotation, allowing everyone to get reps. Carl Lawson stood out, repeatedly getting to the backfield. John Franklin-Myers was used all over and was at times lining up opposite of Lawson on the edge.
Linebackers and Secondary
C.J. Mosley returns after what seems like a two-year hiatus thinner and faster. His leadership was on full display, which the Jets will need given the youth movement they are having at linebacker. Jarrad Davis and Blake Cashman joined him with the first team.
Blessuan Austin and Bryce Hall started at cornerback, which does not come as a surprise. Rookie Jason Pinnock made an amazing interception off the ground after the pass was deflected ahead of him. LaMarcus Joyner joined Marcus Maye as the other starting safety, which also is not a shock with Ashtyn Davis out to start the year.
Slot Cornerback Battle
Let’s highlight one battle for a second – slot corner. With Brian Poole officially gone to another team, the Jets are having a competition for his job. Undrafted free agent Javelin Guidry enters his second year and was impressive last season. Rookie Michael Carter II is also in the running, who the Jets really like. Elijah Campbell is also in the competition, yet it is Carter who is Guidry’s biggest threat.
The focus of the day was punting, specifically returning punts. The coaches used a broom to distract returners, though it never worked. Braxton Berrios was the Jets primary punt returner in 2020 but has stiffer competition now. Michael Carter, Elijah Moore, and Keelan Cole all joined him, forming a battle for the job.
Final Takeaways from Day 1
Simply put, this is an exciting time to be a Jets fan. General Manager Joe Douglas is executing his plan to build a contender, and the pieces in place are worth watching. Whether or not this is a playoff team, Jets fans are going to be looking towards Sundays for the first time in a long time in 2021.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images