The Jets have been spending months learning the new offensive and defensive schemes of Adam Gase and Gregg Williams. They’ve studied the terminology, their assignments and the fundamentals needed for proper execution.
They’ve had nearly two weeks of training camp. They’ve run, they’ve lifted and they’ve sat through countless chalkboard sessions and endured daily walk-throughs. Now comes the fun part — when they can hit somebody not wearing a green jersey.
That comes Thursday night, when the Jets play the Giants at MetLife Stadium in the preseason opener for both teams. And though there will be talk of bragging rights and such, the Jets are eager to see how all their hard work looks in an actual game.
“Preseason games are the opportunity for you to cut loose,” said offensive guard Kelechi Osemele, who is in his first season with the Jets after stops in Baltimore and Oakland. “You can cut guys and get as nasty as you want, barring a personal foul. It’s where you can see where you’re at.”
Gase describes himself as a “one-day-at-a-time guy,” never wanting to look too far ahead. But he admitted he was already looking forward to his debut as the Jets’ newest head coach.
“It’ll be fun to watch our guys be able to go fully at somebody else,” Gase said Tuesday, adding, “You want to go against somebody else, different defense, different looks. I think it’s fun for us as coaches to watch, especially when you have guys in their first couple of games and they get a ton of playing time.”
It’s actually more than that. The Jets are trying to build a new culture and a new identity. It starts with a new general manager (Joe Douglas), a new coach (Gase), new uniforms and a new attitude. Now it must translate onto the field.
Gase’s offensive scheme and terminology have been described as “complicated” by Osemele, who added: “We need to get the calls down and know where we’re going on protections and some timing things. We’re not where we need to be. But we’re going to improve every day.”
That goes for the defense, too, which is itching to test Williams’ scheme that calls for a more aggressive approach.
“With a new scheme, you want to see how it works and try to get those cobwebs off,” defensive lineman Steve McLendon said. “It will show us how to trust our techniques and our alignments and assignments.”
It’s also the first chance for the Jets to impose what they hope will be a new identity.
“We want to continue to get better, fly to the ball, be violent at the point of attack and making plays,” safety Jamal Adams said.
Injuries are becoming a concern, with wide receiver Quincy Enunwa suffering a groin injury Tuesday while catching a pass over cornerback Trumaine Johnson. Given how cautious Gase has been with safety Marcus Maye and defensive end Leonard Williams, Enunwa figures to sit out against the Giants.
That still leaves plenty of starters ready to begin a new era.
“Communication is the main thing: offense, defense and special teams,” Adams said. “Playing fast and running to the ball … as long as we can do that and be consistent at it, we’ll be fine.”
Gase didn’t say how much his starters would play against the Giants or even whether running back Le’Veon Bell would see his first action as a Jet. Having missed all of last season in a contract holdout with the Steelers, Bell has some rust he needs to knock off.
“Still haven’t talked to the players about playing time,” Gase said. “They’re just going to be ready to go.”
The new-look Jets are ready to be seen.