FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – The tempo at New York Jets practice is in midseason form.
So is the intensity on the field, with guys flying around from sideline to sideline. The volume of the coaches is up, too.
It’s still only May, but there’s a noticeable – and audible – buzz around the new-look Jets.
“That’s one thing I’ve been loving so much about this year so far is the competitiveness, and it starts with the coaches,” defensive end Leonard Williams said Wednesday. “Adam Gase is a crazy offensive coordinator and Gregg (Williams) is obviously a crazy D-coordinator. So, having those two go at it in practice, it kind of trickles down to the players, and the players go at it, too.
“But it’s in a healthy way. Just a competition, getting better.”
And, just to be clear, Leonard Williams wasn’t questioning his coaches’ sanity.
“Yeah, when I say ‘crazy,’” he said, laughing, “it’s in a good way.”
The combination of Gase as the head coach and mastermind of the offense, and Gregg Williams as the ‘mad scientist’ of the defense has been an intriguing storyline this offseason – particularly how the two would co-exist as they try to make their sides of the ball better than the other.
“It’s fun to be out there,” Gase said. “There’s some juice in the air.”
So far, the pace of practices during organized activities has been quicker than most at this time of year, when teams usually ease into their offseason programs before minicamp and then training camp.
“I think it’s going to help a lot because we’re not waiting to compete,” Leonard Williams said. “We’re not waiting to get into pads, not waiting for the season to start, not waiting for like some big moment to get going. We’re trying to take it day by day – and it starts now.
“I feel like that’s the mentality that’s running through the whole team and there’s a lot of fire in everybody right now.”
Especially the men in charge.
Gase, hired as coach of the Jets in January, had no qualms about bringing a strong-minded alpha-type leader such as Gregg Williams aboard to run the defense.
Williams came with a reputation for being loud and, well, colorful with his language – and he hasn’t disappointed. The veteran defensive coordinator isn’t shy about letting his players know when they screw up. He also enjoys trying to frustrate quarterback Sam Darnold and the rest of the offense with blitzes from all angles.
“I’m sure you guys have heard it from other dudes, but it’s just a lot more aggressive, like an attacking front,” defensive end Henry Anderson said. “It’s definitely a fun defense to play in.”
Similarly, Gase has the offense working at a more rapid pace through the OTA practices than some players are used to. That not only has affected that side of the ball, but also the guys trying to defend against the Jets’ offense.
Williams has his players focused on trying to get the ball away from the offense, whether that’s up front or way down the field on a long pass.
“We’ll be flying downfield to get after the ball and we have to go right back to line up,” Leonard Williams said. “It’s helping us with conditioning and it’s helping us with everything, like when it comes down to third- or fourth-quarter and clutch situations when you have to push through when you’re tired and stuff like that. It’s great.”
The whole vibe reminds Leonard Williams a lot of his college days at USC, where Ed Orgeron was his demanding defensive line coach.
“He’s the best coach I’ve ever had in my life, I would say,” Williams said of Orgeron. “The reason why I say that is because he was so intense, it brought the best out of me. I’d be in meetings and hear his voice and I’d sit up straight. Or, he’d tell me something with so much intensity that I know how much passion he has behind it, and it makes me have the same type of passion and fire for it.
“We’d just feed off of each other and I like that passion he has.”
Just as he and the rest of the Jets are experiencing with the new coaching staff.
“Me, personally, I’ve loved it because every day is a challenge,” Gase said of preparing for Gregg Williams’ defense. “You’re not really sure what you’re going to get.”
NOTES: Gase said the Jets are being cautious with first-round pick DT Quinnen Williams, who has been sidelined with a calf issue. Williams participated in individual and positional drills Wednesday, but not in team drills. … Leonard Williams is entering a contract year, but said he isn’t focused on trying to get a new deal before the regular season begins. The 2015 first-rounder believes he could thrive in the Jets’ new defense for years to come. “I definitely would want to stay here,” he said. “I feel like I’m a loyal type of player, like I never thought about transferring when I was in high school or college or anything like that. It’s kind of the same now. I’d like to stay on the team if I had the opportunity to.”
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