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New York Jets can’t afford to make this franchise-crushing mistake (again) – New York Jets Blog



FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — A look at what’s happening around the New York Jets:

1. Go O, Joe: By his own admission, general manager Joe Douglas failed to supply former quarterback Sam Darnold with enough help to prosper — a fresh scar for the organization. Now he gets a mulligan with a second quarterback, presumably BYU’s Zach Wilson, and it would be the definition of insanity if he lets it happen again.

“If you’re trying to put yourself in a good situation, this whole draft would be about Zach Wilson, at least early on,” said NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah, a former scout who worked with Douglas at the Baltimore Ravens. “We’re going to devote as many resources as we can to give him the opportunity that Sam didn’t have — which is to have some good people in front of him and a lot of options of where to go with the football.”

Best-case scenario for the Jets in the 2021 NFL draft (April 29-May 1 in Cleveland, on ESPN and ESPN the App): Douglas lands a plug-and-play guard, a dual-threat running back and a home run hitter at wide receiver.

The Jets helped themselves in NFL free agency by signing Corey Davis and Keelan Cole at wide receiver, but there’s room at the inn because Cole and Jamison Crowder will be free agents in 2022. If one of the Alabama receivers slips past the No. 12 pick, the Jets, picking 23rd, should use one of their 2022 second-rounders to trade up for DeVonta Smith or Jaylen Waddle. Tight end also is a need, but the position thins out pretty quickly after Florida’s Kyle Pitts. The offensive line requires a boost, especially the interior.

At the same time, Douglas can’t get too Zach-centric with his decisions. It would make no sense to pass on a highly rated cornerback at 23, perhaps Northwestern’s Greg Newsome II, for the sake of drafting an offensive lineman. Smart teams draft the “best player available” and use free agency to fill needs. In the Jets’ case, if two players have similar grades, they should lean offense.

It’s a delicate spot for Douglas. He wants to appease his defensive-minded coach, Robert Saleh, but he also must recognize the obvious: The Jets have stunk on offense for a long time. In total yards, they have ranked 26th, 28th, 29th, 32nd and 32nd over the past five seasons — and you can’t blame former coach Adam Gase for all of that.

“There’s a balance you’re trying to strike,” Douglas said. “You’re trying to build the best team you can possibly build — offense, defense and special teams. It’s also important to do everything we can to provide what we can to make a young quarterback successful.”

Prediction: Douglas isn’t going to make the same mistake twice. He will try to protect his career-defining investment.

2. Intangibles matter: One of the things teams wanted to learn about Wilson during the vetting process was his leadership ability. The hullabaloo about his captaincy (he was named a captain by the coaches, but not selected by teammates) sparked rumors, along with some whispers about his attitude.

This is what an AFC scout said about that: “Does he have arrogance? Yeah, maybe. There’s some cockiness, but a lot of professional athletes have that.” The scout noted Wilson led BYU to its most successful season in 25 years, suggesting it wouldn’t have been possible if the team didn’t have faith in its quarterback.

In talking to people about Wilson, the word that consistently came up was “competitive.” Hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little competitive arrogance.

There will be a ton of pressure on Wilson, probably more than Darnold faced in 2018. Unfortunately, Wilson won’t have a seasoned pro such as Josh McCown to help with the transition.



Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay respond to a question about why Justin Fields is projected to fall below Trevor Lawrence, Mac Jones and Zach Wilson.

3. Silly Philly: During Zoom calls, the Jets tried to put prospects in “high-stress situations,” according to Douglas. The goal was to see how they processed information by getting them to spit out calls and checks on plays that were punched up on video. They tried to shake it up, keeping things light, but they apparently didn’t use a page from the Philadelphia Eagles‘ playbook.

“I haven’t seen any good rock, paper, scissors battles yet,” Douglas cracked.

4. Together again: After last year’s virtual draft, the Jets’ brass will be back in their own draft room. Per league rules, they will have 15 individual tables in the room, socially distant. Everyone must wear a mask. Those that can’t get in the room will be dialed into the room via Microsoft Teams.

5. High on Mosley: Douglas has made 11 player trades in 22 months, so don’t be surprised if he pulls off another during the draft. There aren’t many candidates on the roster, but the one to watch is middle linebacker C.J. Mosley, who hasn’t played a complete game in two years because of injuries and an opt-out.

Saleh made it sound like they have no desire to trade Mosley, calling him a “tremendous leader and a tremendous football player” who can play in any scheme. He said he’s “excited” to work with Mosley, hoping to get him back to being “the star that he’s been.” Disclaimer: ‘Tis the season for posturing.

Mosley’s burdensome contract, coupled with the addition of Jarrad Davis, has fueled the trade speculation. I’m curious to see what the Jets do if Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah slips to No. 23. He’s fast and tenacious, an ideal fit in Saleh’s 4-3 scheme. That’s high for an off-ball linebacker, but it’s worth noting Douglas was part of a Ravens scouting staff that drafted Mosley No. 17 overall in 2014. Owusu-Koramoah has the ability to play the weak-side position.

6. Riser, faller: It wouldn’t be a shock if the Jets pick an edge rusher with the 23rd or 34th pick, but it would surprise me if it’s Miami’s Jaelan Phillips. Not only are there medical questions (three concussions, multiple wrist surgeries), but he has off-the-field questions that teams are sorting through. He doesn’t sound like a fit, considering the emphasis on character. On the flip side, they’re intrigued by Syracuse cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu, who could be a consideration in the second or third round.

7. No sophomore jinx allowed: For the Jets’ sake, you hope the ’21 draft class stays healthier than the ’20 class. Tackle Mekhi Becton, wide receiver Denzel Mims, safety Ashtyn Davis and cornerback Bryce Hall, all of whom are being counted on to play big roles, missed a combined total of 23 games. The Jets’ success in 2021 will be determined, in part, by this group’s ability to make major strides.

8. Kid QBs: The idea of starting a rookie at quarterback isn’t foreign to Saleh. In his three previous coaching stops, his organization never shied away from inexperienced signal-callers.

Seattle Seahawks, 2012: Russell Wilson, a rookie, started from Day 1.

Jacksonville Jaguars, 2014: Ditto, Blake Bortles.

San Francisco 49ers, 2017: Jimmy Garoppolo was in his fourth season, but had only two career starts prior to his mid-season trade to San Francisco.

“I never really thought about that,” Saleh said of the trend. “We’ve seen successes with Russell, and we’ve seen things go not so well in Jacksonville. One thing I can attest to: From a schematic standpoint, the scheme that [offensive coordinator Mike] LaFleur is bringing is the best scheme in the world, in my opinion.”

Saleh’s experiences, both good and bad, should serve him well because we know he will have a rookie in 2021.

9. Jersey talk: I’m with Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady. The NFL’s new uniform-number rule is “dumb.” What’s the point?

10. So you’re saying there’s a chance? Since 2001, only nine teams have won seven or more games after winning two or fewer the season before, per ESPN Stats & Information. This is what the 2021 Jets, coming off a 2-14 record, are up against.

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Chicago Bears see strong attendance at voluntary workouts despite prior objections



LAKE FOREST, Ill. – The Chicago Bears had approximately 70 players attend Day 1 of Phase 2 of the club’s voluntary offseason program on Monday — and enjoyed near perfect attendance on offense, sources told ESPN.

A layer of uncertainty surrounding the level of player participation in the second phase of the program existed after the Bears were one of many teams to release statements via the NFLPA that stated their objection to any voluntary offseason in-person workouts.

“COVID-19 remains a risk both to our team, our family members and to our fellow NFL players,” the Bears’ statement read. “We also saw the health and safety benefits of a fully virtual offseason, as injuries across the NFL were down last year. Players remain unclear about the protocols and protections, and rules remain inconsistent despite the last minute communication by the NFL. It is for these reasons that the majority of our locker room are choosing to exercise our right and not participate in in-person voluntary workouts in order to stay as safe as possible.”

Nevertheless, Bears general manager Ryan Pace predicted strong player offseason attendance when he addressed the media prior to the NFL draft.

“As we approach that May 17 date, I expect it [player attendance] to be good,” Pace said on his pre-draft videoconference last month. “I think with just the feeling I have with our guys and the excitement of this offseason and the upcoming season, I feel it. I feel it from our leadership. I feel it throughout our team. I can already tell from the guys who are coming in now and just kind of the energy and the momentum that I feel from that group. I expect it to carry right into May 17, when they can be here at Halas.”

On Sunday, the Bears tweaked their offseason schedule and eliminated one week of OTA practices. Head coach Matt Nagy informed reporters at the conclusion of rookie minicamp that the first week of Phase 2 will primarily focus on strength and conditioning, with minor on-field work mixed in.

“I guess percentage-wise you could probably say for simplicity [Monday will be] probably more 75% strength and conditioning and then 25% football,” Nagy said Sunday.

“And of that 25% football, it’s going to be head and class on the grass, walk-through, mental. So when these guys come in we want to see where they’re at physically, offensively running routes, whatever we can do on air which are the rules. But a lot of it for the first week is going to be strength and conditioning and mental, and then we’re going to slowly ramp up into more as we go.”

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Source — New England Patriots set to re-sign quarterback Brian Hoyer



FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer is set to re-sign with the New England Patriots, a league source confirmed to ESPN on Monday.

He joins a crowded position headlined by Cam Newton, 2021 first-round draft choice Mac Jones and third-year veteran Jarrett Stidham.

Hoyer, who had taken a free-agent visit with the New York Jets earlier this offseason as a possible backup to No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson, opened last season as the Patriots’ top backup, before slipping to the No. 3 spot behind Stidham after the fourth week.

Hoyer, 35, provides backup quarterback insurance as a potential starting competition unfolds ahead of him. Coach Bill Belichick has declared Newton the top option at this time, while leaving the door open for Jones — and possibly Stidham — to challenge him for the starting role.

“Somebody would have to play better than [Newton] does,” Belichick said on April 29.

The return of Hoyer, who previously played for the team in three different stints (2009-2011, 2017-2018 and 2020), provides the Patriots flexibility and insurance depending on how a starting competition plays out.

In training camp last year, Hoyer had arguably the most consistent performance among Patriots quarterbacks. That helped him initially beat out Stidham, who had been the No. 2 option in 2019.

Hoyer was unexpectedly thrust into a starting role a few days before the Patriots’ Week 4 road game against the Kansas City Chiefs, as a result of Newton testing positive for COVID-19 the night before the team was scheduled to travel.

The Patriots lost 26-10 in a contest that was pushed back one day, with the team traveling on the morning of the game. Hoyer went 15 of 24 for 130 yards, with no touchdowns and one interception, and had a notable breakdown at the end of the first half in taking a sack when the Patriots were out of timeouts, costing them a chance at a field-goal attempt.

He also lost a fumble on a strip-sack, which was his final play before Belichick replaced him with Stidham. From that point, Hoyer served as the Patriots’ third quarterback the rest of the year.

The Boston Globe first reported the Patriots’ intention to re-sign Hoyer.

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Off-the-cuff Detroit Lions coach Dan Campbell jokes about bringing pet lion to practice



If bringing a Super Bowl to Detroit required losing an arm than new Lions head coach Dan Campbell says he would be armless. Although Campbell has yet to coach an actual game in Motown, the first-year sideline leader is already making an early case as one of the most entertaining coaches in the league with his off-the-cuff style.

On Sunday, Campbell made a guest appearance on the “Pardon My Take” podcast on which he shared an idea that he actually presented to Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp about having a pet lion around the team’s practice facility.

“I don’t think we’re going to be able to do it, but I would love to literally just have a pet lion. Just a legit pet lion on a chain, a big ass chain, and he really is my pet,” Campbell said on the podcast. “We just walk around the building, we go out to practice, we’re at seven-on-seven, we’re behind the kicker when he’s kicking. There we are.”

Campbell further imagined that the lion would be “on command.” Campbell joked that if a position group wasn’t performing well, he could have the lion relieve itself in front of the group.

“I mean, think about it,” he said. “That would be outstanding.”

Campbell also made national headlines during his introductory news conference in January, notably with his impromptu answers that included his vision for the team being tough enough to “bite a kneecap off.” The lion reference was just the latest example, although he doubts it’ll ever happen.

“The problem is I don’t know if PETA’s gonna to allow that, though. It’s gonna be hard,” Campbell said. “Believe me though we would take great care of it. It would be fed well, it would be petted, it would be manicured. I might end up losing an arm because of it, but that would be even better because it would validate what, this is a freaking, this a creature now. This is an animal. This thing, this is from the wild.”

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