jets ota preview
Syndication: The Record

Zach Wilson and the New York Jets should be embarking on the OTA period of the offseason program starting Monday.

Ryan Honey

The OTA period of the offseason has arrived for the first time since 2019, but some aspects are uncertain.

Players possess the CBA right to opt-out of the in-person workouts amid the COVID-19 pandemic and some individuals will likely exercise that privilege.

So at this moment in time, we truly don’t know who on the Jets roster will be attending the workouts in Florham Park. However, we can essentially make the assumption rookie quarterback and No. 2 overall draft pick Zach Wilson will be showing up after he participated in the Jets rookie minicamp earlier this month.

It’s a new era of Jets football, and the preparation for a crucial 2021 season continues this month into the next. What should fans pay attention to during this specific period of the offseason?

Zach Wilson continues his rookie-year journey

A new signal-caller is under center.

The Jets drafted Zach Wilson out of BYU after parting ways with their now-former quarterback, Sam Darnold, via an April trade deal involving the Carolina Panthers. Given the Jets don’t possess a backup quarterback who the general public believes could legitimately compete for a starting job, it’s clear Wilson is basically set to be the No. 1 guy on the depth chart come Week 1.

Everyone received their first glimpse of Wilson in a No. 2 Jets practice uniform when the team’s rookie minicamp took place, and during organized team activities, the former BYU standout will continue to prepare for his inaugural NFL season.

He’ll need to develop chemistry with his offensive targets; he’ll need to improve his communication skills as a pro-level quarterback; he’ll need to continue memorizing offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur’s playbook.

Despite the extremely young age (22 years old in August), Wilson has a lot on his plate, and this period (if he attends) should be extremely important for his overall rookie-year journey.

An improved defense

The Jets are expected to employ an improved defensive unit this coming season in comparison to the group they fielded in 2020.

General manager Joe Douglas went out and signed defensive end Carl Lawson, linebacker Jarrad Davis, and defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins this offseason, and additionally drafted six players on that side of the ball.

Not to mention, linebacker C.J. Mosley is expected to return after opting out of this past season and Marcus Maye should continue to improve as one of the NFL’s more underrated safeties. Quinnen Williams, despite currently recovering from successful foot surgery, is also looking to greatly produce in 2021 after a superb 2020 campaign.

With this improved slate of players along with a new defensive coordinator in Jeff Ulbrich and defensive-minded head coach in Robert Saleh, the Jets unit should impress in 2021.

Of course, the work commences in the offseason though — expect the defensive attendees to start building chemistry with one another.

A new staff in Florham Park

The Adam Gase era in Florham Park has concluded — music to the ears of many Jets fans.

The former Gang Green head coach won just nine games in two years, a tenure that culminated with a two-win 2020 season.

Now, a new coaching staff is in place; one that Joe Douglas worked to form (remember, Douglas didn’t hire Gase back in 2019). The Robert Saleh-led group will have a significant amount of ground to cover considering how much this team struggled last year, but thanks to the general manager’s offseason moves, the organization is seemingly on the right track.

Will Mike LaFleur work well with Zach Wilson and New York’s improved group of offensive weapons? Is Jeff Ulbrich going to truly maximize the potential of guys like Carl Lawson, Marcus Maye, and Quinnen Williams? How will Saleh oversee a team that has struggled mightily in recent years and hasn’t made the postseason since the 2010 season?

Many questions have arisen — the coaching staff can further lay the groundwork for some answers during OTAs.

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