Hitting Someone Else
Today is a good day, but today is also a toe-curling, spine-tingling, nerve-wracking kind of day. The Atlanta Falcons are rolling into town, and the Jets will host the first of two practices against the NFC South team. Joint practices have become a staple of the NFL off-season, the intensity goes up and I have little doubt that we’ll see a few skirmishes along the way.
I don’t think there are any statistics to back this up, and it may be based solely on Carl Lawson’s season-ending Achilles injury against Green Bay in joint practices last year, but it seems a lot of serious injuries tend to happen when practicing against an opponent.
Let’s just keep our fingers crossed that we don’t experience any as god knows we’ve had our fair share. It does also give us an opportunity to see 85 Atlanta Falcons up close and personal, and remember…32 of those players will end up getting cut. One team’s cut it another team’s hidden gem.
Duane Brown has switched up his number to #71, apparently, people care about that, so I’m here to share the news.
Lawrence Cager continues to impress at every opportunity. In the first period of team drills, he was targeted four times and he caught all four passes. He’s giving the Jets a very difficult decision.
Things got a little handsy during red-zone drills. After Joe Flacco found Tyler Conklin (who else) for a touchdown, the defense were called for back-to-back pass interference calls. Elijah Moore appreciated the call from the refs giving them a handshake and a hug.
Rich Cimini commented that Mike White had maybe his best practice of camp saying that he was “efficient in the red zone, finding open guys and throwing on time”.
Jordan Whitehead showed up with an interception on Joe Flacco in what was a difficult period for the veteran QB and the offense. Hate seeing the QB throw picks, but do love to see a safety getting his hands on the ball.
We haven’t heard the name Isaiah Dunn much this camp, but he made an “athletic” pass break-up which sent the defense “wild”. Dunn is well down the depth chart after the additions of Sauce Gardner and DJ Reed, but depth is key in the NFL.
There was a bit of fun at the end of practice with special teams coordinator Brant Boyer and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich having a punt-catching contest. Boyer went 2-5 and Ulbrich 1-5…neither will be putting on the pads anytime soon. Also, a reminder that catching NFL punts isn’t always straightforward.
Hall of fame finalist Joe Klecko was at the facility for today's session and he stayed throughout to see the players in action. He was on the sideline chatting with Joe Douglas.
Coach Saleh confirmed that Zach Wilson is back in the facility having returned on Thursday morning. He's already walking and “chomping at the bit” to start his rehab. Saleh wouldn't be drawn on a timetable for Zach's return or whether his expectation was for him to be available in week one.
When asked about Quinnen Williams, Saleh said he expected the Jets defensive lineman to return “soon” - Williams hasn't practised all week due to an ankle injury.
Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur was speaking about wide receiver Denzel Mims: “He is much further along with the offense and his body. He put the time in … you can tell how much more comfortable he is”
Earlier this week we received the positive news that Zach Wilson’s knee was as expected with his meniscus requiring a little trim. The Jets avoided the worst and their QB is expected back in around 2-6 weeks.
Chances are the Jets will be rolling with Joe Flacco come week one, and considering the opponent, there’s almost a poeticness to it.
Flacco of course won a Super Bowl with Baltimore and was named the game MVP for his performance in a 34-31 win. He spent 11 years with the Ravens and it almost seems fitting that he’d be the man to lead the Jets out against his former employer.
But if that does happen, what can we expect from Joe? How did he perform last season in his limited game time with the Jets?
Flacco may have only played two games for the Jets last year, but he carried himself very well completing 64.3% of his passes while throwing 3 touchdowns to 0 interceptions. His adjusted completion percentage jumps to 73% and his average depth of target led all Jets quarterbacks at 8.3 yards, so it wasn’t just dink and dunk.
When I was looking into the Flacco numbers from last season for the purpose of today’s newsletter, two figures stuck out to me, 10.5 and 2.30.
10.5% is the number of pressures that turned into sacks and 2.30 was the time it took Flacco to throw the football. It’s hard to compare to Mike White as a lot of his passes were very short, his average depth of target was just 6.4 yards so he should get rid of the ball quicker and he shouldn’t take as many sacks (although his 2.54 to release the ball was still slower than Flacco).
Those two numbers for Flacco show his experience. He knows how to handle pressure and he knows where to go with the football. The pressure to sack rate is especially notable when comparing it against Zach Wilson who was up at 26.3%, one of the worst marks in all of football. There is an element of Zach wanting to do too much and trying to use his athletic ability to prolong plays that ultimately end in a sack, but a lot of it is processing speed. This can be seen in time to throw as well, with Zach sitting at 3.05 seconds. Again, some of this is prolonging plays behind the line, but a lot of it is processing.
If we look at pocket time as a whole, there is a little difference to point out. Time to throw and pocket time is very different. Time to throw just looks at the time it takes a QB to release the ball from the time he snaps it, regardless of what’s happening around him. Pocket time looks at the time a QB has in the pocket before he throws the ball or is pressured. Zach was at 2.4 which is significantly different from the 3.05 seconds listed as his time to throw, Flacco is at 2.1 but the difference between his time to throw and pocket time isn’t quite as vast as Zach’s.
For the sake of the Jet’s long-term future, we all need Zach to play and we need Zach to perform. However, nobody should be worried about Flacco having to fill in if needed to start the season. His veteran presence could help this young Jets offense find their feet early, paving the way for Zach to come back into a confident unit.
The NFL and NFLPA reached an agreement on an 11-game suspension for Browns QB Deshaun Watson. The settlement also includes a fine of $5 million that will go to charity. The deal still is not signed but it is agreed to. That means his NFL debut will be in week 13…against the Texans.
The Chicago Bears beat the Seattle Seahawks 27-11 in the lone pre-season game last night. Justin Fields completed 5/7 passes for 39 yards in one series and then was pulled along with several other starters.
Former Baltimore receiver Marquise Brown has been speaking about his move to the Cardinals saying "It's about happiness," Brown said, via the team's official website. "I want to feel like I am a part of something to win. At the Ravens, I just felt like sometimes they really didn't need me. Regardless if I was there or not, they were going to win games. I love the game too much. I want to be involved."
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