2021 New York Jets Green & White Scrimmage Takeaways

Jets Green & White Scrimmage
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Saturday, April 7th marked the first time the New York Jets hosted fans at MetLife Stadium since Week 17 of the 2019 season. For the 2021 New York Jets Green & White scrimmage, there was a lot to be excited about. It would be the first time they saw rookie quarterback Zach Wilson on the field at MetLife. The first time new Head Coach Robert Saleh would be roaming the sidelines. More importantly, it was the first time fans got to watch the latest era in Jets football.

Except, the night went a bit differently than many expected. Here are the main takeaways from the 2021 New York Jets Green & White Scrimmage…

2021 New York Jets Green & White Scrimmage Takeaways

Zach Wilson, Jets Receivers Struggle to Connect

From the moment Wilson walked onto the field, he heard cheers coming from the stands. Fans were excited to see how he would do in the closest thing to a gameday environment yet. Unfortunately, he and his receivers left a lot to be desired.

As soon as drills began, Wilson and his weapons did not seem to connect. Despite some great passes, a handful were dropped during the practice portion of the night. During team drills, the same issue – dropped passes. It was around this time that Wilson began over or under throwing some balls too.

Then came the actual scrimmage. Numerous passes were dropped, all of which would have made Wilson and the offense’s night much easier. Nevertheless, they were not completions. On the night, Wilson went 11 for 24, throwing for 112 yards total. His seven drives led to three points, four punts, and two more that ended with interceptions. Elijah Moore was quieter than usual, Keelan Cole barely saw the field, and Denzel Mims didn’t make a catch until the final moments of the scrimmage.

Clearly, this is not the showing anyone had hoped for coming into the night.

As Saleh noted after the scrimmage, “These moments are priceless for him. He had some good moments, and obviously he had some rookie moments. It’s going to be a lot of tape to learn off of for him.” At the end of the day, the Jets Green & White Scrimmage is a practice. And this year’s is one that will be looked back on as a learning experience for their rookie quarterback.

Jets Offense Unable to Move the Ball

It was not just the passing game that was not clicking. Rather it was the offense entirely. At times, the offensive line was holding down a clean pocket and making room in the run game. Then again, the defensive line was able to have their fun getting to the quarterback and stopping the run.

As for the run game, the running backs actually had a solid night. Tevin Coleman and Michael Carter strung together a handful of strong carries. La’Mical Perine put his strength on display, Austin Walter picked up some chunk yards, and Ty Johnson did his thing. Nonetheless, the Jets elite run defense prevented them from getting in a groove.

Update on Tight End Battle

One of the things that stood out about the offense was the usage of tight ends. During training camp, the tight ends have gotten more involved through their use in the passing game, as well as lining up in 12 personnel.

With the first-team offense, it was often a rotation of veterans Tyler Kroft and Ryan Griffin. Kroft is new to the team, on a one-year deal. He brings size at 6’6” and 252-pounds and is a strong blocker. Meanwhile, after seeming lost in 2020, Griffin looks like his 2019 self. Additionally, undrafted free agent Kenny Yeboah out of Ole Miss has been getting more reps. He even caught a touchdown from Mike White for the second score of the night.

What is most surprising about the tight end usage on Saturday was the absence of Chris Herndon. Coming off a lost season, he appeared primarily with James Morgan, who has been running the third-team offense in training camp. Of course, Saleh and company have been running deep rotations as they have figured out where guys stand on the depth chart. But it certainly is worth noting his latest disappearing act.

Update on Kicking Competition

Finally, fans caught a glimpse of the kicking competition, which has been for the most part quiet during training camp. Currently, the Jets employ two rookie kickers – Chris Naggar from SMU and the recently added Matt Ammendola of Oklahoma State.

Both of them saw four field goal tries during team drills, starting from the 25-yard line and moving back five yards after each one. Ammendola was a perfect four-for-four, showing off the power in his leg. Whereas Naggar probably wishes he had this night back. He went one-for-four, as he barely could kick it over the crossbar. Naggar handled kick-off duties most of the night, as Ammendola would go onto miss an extra point.

It was only a glimpse at the kicking competition, but a very telling one. It goes without saying that playing at MetLife Stadium made fans notice Ammendola’s field goal ability, given the team’s recent kicking issues.

Defense Stole the Show

Fans may have been at MetLife for an offensive explosion, but the play of the defense is what stole the show. Given it was a scrimmage, nobody was really tackling as if it was a game. Had they been playing that way, C.J. Mosley, Nathan Shepherd, Bryce Huff and more would have had sacks. Their top defenders Marcus Maye and Mosley had huge pass breakups, and safety Lamarcus Joyner was just about everywhere. Not to mention, Javelin Guidry had a pick-6, and Mosley hauled one in on a tipped pass too. Simply put, the defense looked really good compared to last year.

Big Kick Returns

When it comes to returning kicks, the Jets have not done much since the departure of Andre Roberts in 2019. During the scrimmage, however, they had multiple that if the whistle was not being blown early, may have been touchdowns. Cornerback Corey Ballentine made the most of his returns, with two that could have gone to the house. Moreover, rookie running back Michael Carter had one that may have gone to the house. Hopefully, this was not just a practice fluke and the Jets can do some damage on returns in 2021.

Fans Back in the Stands

Lastly, seeing fans will up the lower bowl at MetLife Stadium was one of the highlights of the night. The energy was there, with fans constantly chanting “J-E-T-S, Jets! Jets! Jets!” T-Shirts were thrown, jerseys were being purchased, and most fans stuck it out until the very end. Based on the 2021 New York Jets Green & White Scrimmage alone, fans cannot wait to see this team play meaningful football this fall.

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images