FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:
1. Make like the Pack: Things change quickly in the NFL.
The Jets, who failed to score a single touchdown in the final three games last season and finished 29th in scoring, are now being asked questions about having too much talent on offense. As in: How can you keep everybody happy? The recent addition of Pro Bowl running back Dalvin Cook has intensified the narrative.
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, the man in charge of putting the puzzle together, recalled how they did it with the 2020 Green Bay Packers. "Probably the best offense I've been a part of," said Hackett, who was the coordinator under coach and playcaller Matt LaFleur.
Hackett mentioned eight players from that team, starting with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. "There were so many different guys," he said, describing how that made them dangerous because they were able to attack all areas of the field. The Packers went 13-3 and led the league in scoring (31.8 points per game), with Rodgers capturing NFL MVP honors.
It's a Green Bay blueprint for the Jets.
That season, the Packers' offense ran through two players, wide receiver Davante Adams (1,374 receiving yards) and running back Aaron Jones (1,104 rushing). Everybody else was a complementary piece. The second-leading receiver was Marquez Valdes-Scantling (690), and the second rusher was Jamaal Williams (505) -- a huge drop-off at both positions.
Rising star receiver Garrett Wilson has the potential to fill the Adams role, with Allen Lazard (a member of the 2020 Packers), Mecole Hardman Jr., Randall Cobb and Corey Davis taking the secondary spots. At tight end, the Tyler Conklin-C.J. Uzomah tandem can certainly match Robert Tonyan's 2020 production (586 yards).
Running back is where it gets interesting. Cook and Breece Hall (once he returns to his pre-surgery form) are legitimate lead backs, while Michael Carter and Zonovan Knight are capable backups. That's a lot of mouths to feed. In Green Bay, Jones got the bulk of the carries (201), with help from Williams (119). Then-rookie AJ Dillon (46) picked up the crumbs.
If Hackett uses that formula with the Jets, it will mean a light load for multiple backs. That's where it can get tricky. Fortunately, they have an experienced point guard in Rodgers, who has enough clout to manage the different personalities. He offered a simple answer on how he keeps his receivers happy.
"I tell them the same thing I tell [the media]," Rodgers said. "I throw to the open guy."
2. The Becton plan: The Mekhi Becton situation is fascinating. Given the offensive line's struggles, it's fair to wonder why he isn't getting a chance to work with the starting group. Some also might be questioning why it took so long to move him to right tackle, his best path to the starting lineup. He practiced at the position for the first time Thursday and made his NFL debut at right tackle Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Becton, who played 25 snaps with the backups, held up well.
Becton's New York-based agent, Alan Herman, provided some context.
"There's a medical protocol that has to be followed in terms of how many snaps he gets as we get closer to the start of the season," Herman told ESPN. "The medical protocol was put into place to make sure he's going to be ready to play a whole game at the start of the season."
The protocol, created by noted orthopedist Neal ElAttrache, is so specific that it "limits the amount of running [Becton] does prior to the start of the season in training camp," Herman said.
Becton also was advised to avoid right tackle at the start of camp because it put additional strain on his twice-repaired right knee; things are less taxing on the knee at left tackle. But now, after four weeks of practice and two games (seven snaps in the first, 27 in the second), he has strengthened the right knee to the point that he's cleared for the right side, according to Herman.
"We're not necessarily telling him the job is his," line coach Keith Carter said, "but we're definitely encouraging him, like, 'Hey, man, let's go. When you're ready to put the pedal to the metal, go compete.'"
3. Cheaper by the half-dozen: It's easier to build a championship team when the quarterback isn't eating up a huge chunk of the salary cap. Consider: For six straight seasons, a team has reached the Super Bowl with its starting quarterback counting less than $10 million on the cap, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Rodgers, thanks to a voluntary pay cut, has a cap charge of only $8.8 million this season.
4. Hut, hut ... hut: Rodgers uses his cadence as a weapon, drawing opponents offsides, which results in "free" plays. His voice inflection makes it hard on defenders -- and sometimes his own guys, too.
"There's more cadences than I even know," said Carter, the line coach. "Half of them, he hasn't even told the coaches."
Funny story: Recently acquired offensive tackle Grant Hermanns asked Carter whether he had time to go over the cadences. Carter's response: "Oh, my God, I don't know. Let's go talk to Aaron."
5. Did you know? By signing Rodgers and Cook, the Jets became the third team since the 1970 merger to add two offensive players who had been selected to the Pro Bowl four times in the previous five seasons, per ESPN Stats & Information research. The previous two teams both won the Super Bowl that season -- the 2020 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (QB Tom Brady and WR Antonio Brown) and 2000 Baltimore Ravens (TEs Shannon Sharpe and Ben Coates).
6. Mirror images: The Jets, who faced the Bucs on Saturday night at MetLife Stadium, are trying to copy what Tampa Bay did in 2020. The Bucs imported a future Hall of Fame quarterback (Brady), snapped a 12-year playoff drought and won the Super Bowl. The Jets brought in the quarterback. Their postseason drought is -- drumroll, please -- 12 years. Interesting.
Asked whether they tried to pick the Bucs' brains, coach Robert Saleh said, "We've had discussions. I'm not going to get into details about those, but you can always learn from other people."
7. Tough cuts: Paring the roster from 90 to 53 will be a difficult chore, especially at running back, wide receiver and defensive line. One intriguing player is Corey Davis, who has missed several practices with an illness and personal leave. When he does practice, he doesn't stand out as one of the top receivers. The coaches value his experience and unselfish approach, but the NFL is a business and his $10.5 million salary (non-guaranteed) is a lot for a backup.
8. Spin doctor: Will McDonald's spin move has created a buzz in camp. The rookie edge rusher, who patterns his move after Las Vegas Raiders star Maxx Crosby, has made some offensive tackles look silly. His elusiveness, coupled with his outside burst, has impressed everyone.
"I don't care what you do as long as you sack the quarterback," defensive line coach Aaron Whitecotton said. "You could do a freaking backflip over the guy. I'm down for whatever."
Many years ago, another No. 99 -- Mark Gastineau -- devoured quarterbacks with his spin move. It helped him get to 107.5 sacks.
9. Food for thought: Jamien Sherwood, a safety-turned-linebacker, weighed only 212 pounds as a rookie in 2021. Now he's up to 234. He gained the weight by eating four to five meals a day.
A typical day: breakfast, smoothie, work out, another smoothie, lunch, afternoon snack (typical: two chicken sandwiches and mashed potatoes), another workout, dinner, protein shake.
"Eating five meals a day, it's a job," Sherwood said. "It's the worst job."
10. The last word: “I’d like to play a few good years here and then hand it off to Zach [Wilson] for the next 15’’ -- Rodgers to CBS-2 sports anchor Otis Livingston in an interview that was aired before Saturday night’s game