INDIANAPOLIS -- A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:
1. Family feud: The question of team chemistry usually refers to player relationships in the locker room. For the Jets, it will extend to the coaches' offices.
By reuniting former Bountygate foes Gregg Williams and Joe Vitt, new coach Adam Gase has created a potentially combustible situation on his defensive staff. Gase addressed the matter for the first time at the NFL scouting combine, claiming everything is "Kumbaya" between Williams (coordinator) and Vitt (outside linebackers coach).
"Those two guys are close," Gase said. "Watching those two guys work together again, I think they're both excited about that. I know Joe, some of his best years were with Gregg, and vice versa. I think those guys are excited to get back together. They speak a common language and they're both trying to do the same thing, and that's a win."
Williams and Vitt were assistant coaches on the New Orleans Saints staff that was implicated in the 2012 scandal. In the bounty hearings, conducted by former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Vitt accused Williams of lying in his testimony. Vitt attacked his character, basically calling Williams a "narcissistic" windbag. Coaches have disagreements all the time, but this clearly transcended the norm. What makes this situation doubly compelling is that Vitt is Gase's father-in-law.
Saints coach Sean Payton, suspended a year because of Bountygate, wanted no part of a Vitt-Williams discussion. Asked by ESPN about his former assistants joining the Jets, Payton replied, "I'm not even going to answer. No interest."
I talked to people who know all three coaches, and they described them as intense and fiery -- type-A personalities. That can be a good thing if it creates competitive energy on the practice field, something that was lacking under the laid-back Todd Bowles and his defensive coordinator, Kacy Rodgers. If it gets out of control -- and if the old wounds between Williams and Vitt are inflamed -- it could lead to dysfunction.
Gase tried to douse that talk, saying Vitt actually recommended Williams for the Miami Dolphins' defensive coordinator job when Vance Joseph left to become the Denver Broncos' coach in 2017. Gase wound up promoting Matt Burke, but it was his way of saying Vitt and Williams have buried the hatchet.
Former longtime special teams coach Mike Westhoff, who knows Williams and Vitt from their decades together in the league, doesn't expect any fireworks.
"I think they will co-exist because they both respect each other," said Westhoff, who coached the past two seasons with the Saints. "The fact that they had a battle, a fight, a disagreement ... I don't know, it's not the end of the world. I think they'll fight through that and work together. They've got a common goal. I do know this: When they worked together, they were good. This is a good defense. They were good."
One thing is certain: The Jets' sideline might be as interesting as the action on the field in 2019.
2. 3-4 vs. 4-3 defense: Gase confirmed that Williams, who has yet to address the media, is planning to employ a 3-4 base defense. In other words, it'll be status quo. There had been a lot of speculation about switching to a 4-3, but Gase said they decided against it because the current personnel is a better fit in the 3-4.
"So now we're not completely starting over," he said. "We can keep a lot of the guys we already have."
This is good news for outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins and defensive end Henry Anderson (free agent), both better suited to a 3-4 scheme. It's not such great news for inside linebacker Darron Lee, who could have flourished in a 4-3. It also creates some interesting questions as the draft approaches. From a scheme standpoint, "rush" linebacker Josh Allen (Kentucky) would be the ideal fit. If they use the No. 3 overall pick on Quinnen Williams (Alabama), they would have another 300-pound body to pair with Leonard Williams.
"Those guys would be a nightmare to block," one AFC scout said.
3. WWW: So if the Jets draft Williams, they would have Williams and Williams on the defensive line, with Gregg Williams calling the plays. Potential nickname: "Three Willy."
Badum-pump. Don't forget to tip your waiter.
4. Contract wrinkles: Colleague Dan Graziano posted an interesting story on how the expiring labor agreement could impact contracts in 2020, which is referred to in the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) as "The Final League Year." In 2020, for instance, there are no post-June 1 designations. That could affect the Jets if they decide to move on from cornerback Trumaine Johnson. Without the June 1 option, the Jets would take a $12 million cap hit if they cut him in 2020 -- a savings of only $3 million. With a June 1 designation, it would have been only a $4 million hit with an $11 million savings.
In other words, the quirk in the CBA changes things.
Johnson can save them some agita by rebounding this season. He has a history of playing well under Williams (see: St. Louis Rams), so maybe there will be a turnaround.
5. High on Robby: Gase has spent the past seven weeks evaluating last season's tape, figuring out which players fit his scheme. Asked if there were any surprises, he mentioned wide receiver Robby Anderson.
"You don't see a whole bunch of guys who have what he has and the way he tracks the ball down the field," Gase said. "I don't think I've ever been around a player that does it as smooth."
Let's think about that for a second. Gase has been around some pretty good receivers -- Demaryius Thomas (Broncos), Alshon Jeffery (Chicago Bears) and Jarvis Landry (Dolphins). That's quite a compliment. Gase also said he would like to create some variety in Anderson's routes, allowing him to be more than a one-trick pony.
As expected, the Jets are giving Anderson (restricted free agent) a second-round tender, which means a $3.1 million salary on a one-year contract. With his off-the-field issues, it would be unwise to do a long-term deal at this point.
6. Q rating: Quincy Enunwa has to be pumped up about what he hears from Gase, who wants to expand Enunwa's route tree. Under the previous coaching staff, Enunwa was used mainly as a short-area target. He was Mr. Bubble Screen, and that bothered him. He averaged only 7.07 yards per target, which ranked 76th out of 82 wide receivers, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
"I don't want to put him in a box," Gase said. "I want him to be able to try to do as many things as he possibly can."
That's good news if Gase follows through. It's worth noting the 75th receiver on that list, just ahead of Enunwa, is Danny Amendola, who played for Gase in Miami.
7. Totally random: This is ancient history, but it's worth mentioning because I heard it at the combine. In 2012, when the Jets were prepping Tim Tebow to run their Wildcat offense, they brought legendary college coach Urban Meyer to an offseason practice to provide instruction. Meyer, of course, coached Tebow at Florida. The Jets' coordinator, the late Tony Sparano, was none too happy about Meyer's visit. The Tebow experiment, as everybody knows, was a disaster.
8. Another tight end? General manager Mike Maccagnan said the strongest position in the draft is tight end. The top prospect is T.J. Hockenson (Iowa), who could be picked in the middle of the first round. Could the Jets draft a tight end in the third round or later? They're high on Chris Herndon, but the rest of the depth chart is filled with questions. Maccagnan believes in BPA (best player available), so you never know. Gase could do a lot of creative stuff with a two-tight-end offense.
9. Sooner, the better: The Jets are digging all this chatter about Kyler Murray, the undersized Oklahoma quarterback whose stock is soaring. Some people think Murray could be the No. 1 overall pick. If that happens, the Jets would be ecstatic because it would push a top pass-rusher, Allen or Nick Bosa (Ohio State), down to them at No. 3.
10. The last word: "It's actually a good feeling, not having to answer a lot of questions about quarterbacks. Someone actually asked me at the Senior Bowl this year, 'How is the quarterback from Duke [Daniel Jones] looking?' And I was like, 'Honestly, I really probably have seen him throw three balls today. I've been watching a lot of other positions, so ...'" -- Maccagnan on what it's like to have no pressing need at quarterback.