The Jets went West Friday evening, boarded their chartered flight for Los Angeles for what we can’t help but assume will be their 10th loss in 10 games this season when they play the Chargers Sunday.
But if you listened to Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams on Friday, they went West an enthusiastic group because of the youth being infused into their lineup.
No fewer than 10 rookies played for the Jets against the Patriots in their last game. That youth movement will continue against the Chargers, most notably in the secondary, where fifth-round draft pick Bryce Hall will make his first NFL start at cornerback and third-rounder Ashtyn Davis starts at safety.
This is in addition to the rookies who have been contributing already, like left tackle Mekhi Becton, receiver Denzel Mims and running back La’Mical Perine.
Like it or not, youth will be playing these final seven games for the Jets, who need to find out if the kids are all right as management heads into a crucial offseason, when better building (reconstruction?) will be needed than general manager Joe Douglas delivered last offseason.
“These guys have an energy about them,’’ Williams said Friday. “We had probably one of the best practices since I’ve been here for two years [Friday].’’
The kids, enthusiastic as they are, can be costly, too, with both Davis and Hall playing a vital part in the key play of the Patriots 30-27 comeback win two weeks ago. Both Hall and Davis were guilty parties on a 20-yard Cam Newton pass to Jakobi Meyers with three seconds remaining that led to Nick Folk’s 51-yard game-winning field goal.
Meyers got between Hall and Davis, with Hall passing Meyers off and Davis dropping too deep. The completion, which moved New England to the Jets 33-yard line, led to a ninth consecutive loss, though it was hardly the only play to do so.
The kids giveth and they taketh away.
“They are both good young guys, they are smart guys and then the biggest thing right now is time on task,’’ Williams said, speaking of Hall and Davis. “We’ve had a strange year with respect of all the lack of OTA practices, minimal practice situation in training camp and stuff, so it’s been kind of an evolving process to try to get them as many feel-good reps as we could and it’s going to grow this whole year.’’
The two will have tough reps Sunday against a formidable Chargers receiving corps that includes Keenan Allen (65 receptions, 690 yards and five touchdowns), Mike Williams (25-431, 3) and Jalen Guyton (14-294, 3).
The floor is theirs. Hall’s first start is as result of the Jets this week cutting veteran cornerback Pierre Desir, one of the supposed key free agent acquisitions by Douglas this offseason and perhaps the most indelible stain on his resume to date.
When asked about the sudden cut of Desir, both head coach Adam Gase and Williams delivered lip service about wanting Desir to get another opportunity somewhere else while they took a look at their rookies. But the fact is Desire was a highly inconsistent performer whose effort was even in question.
The one thing they know they will get out of the rookies, like Hall, who’s hungry after watching his draft stock plummet because of the serious injury he suffered in his final collegiate season, is effort.
Last Oct. 11, Hall dislocated his left ankle, broke his fibula and suffered ligament damage while blocking for a punt in Virginia’s game against Miami. It ended his college career, and caused his draft position to drop. Once considered as high as a second-round pick, Hall fell to the fifth round.
The New England game, his NFL debut, while not perfect, was a big step.
“The biggest challenge was mentally convincing myself when I was back that I was good, that I didn’t have to worry about, ‘Am I going to reinjure this thing?’ ’’ Hall said. “Physically I’m ready. I’m healed. Now it’s just the confidence. I have all the confidence in the world that I can be a really good player. That’s not me being cocky. That’s just me believing in myself.”
Davis is the classic overlooked athlete who was not recruited and walked onto the Cal football team — after walking onto its track team and becoming a record-breaking star.
The Jets have nothing to play for in the standings, so they might as well find out what they have in the kids like Hall and Davis.
“As coaches, we’ve got to get them on the field as fast as we can, get them the call as fast as we can, now you’ve got to play,’’ Williams said. “This young group of guys here [are] taking ownership to that and their communication and execution and their energy.’’
Now, if enthusiasm and energy can lead to crisp execution, then maybe the Jets have something for themselves.
#Youth #movement #Jets #energized #ahead #Chargers #clash
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