Jets’ Mike LaFleur says Zach Wilson needs to ‘keep working’

With Zach Wilson banned to the bench for the rest of this season barring an injury to Mike White, Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur was asked Thursday about what’s next for Wilson, the No. 2 pick in the 2021 draft.

« Keep working, » LaFleur said. « It’s a New York Jet and it doesn’t change, that’s how my mindset is, [quarterbacks coach] Rob Calabrese, anyone associated with it. He comes to work and he has to be ready not only to improve, but ready to play.

“What the past few years have taught us…is that it’s always better to be prepared. The league is the next man. I don’t think we all think that [fourth-string QB Chris] Streveler was supposed to be here last Thursday if you asked about a month ago. But we had to prepare Streveler for this moment and in a short week, with hardly any reps, he went out there and did about the best job you could ask a man to do.

“So nothing changes with Zach in terms of the preparation that we are going to put in place for him and the work that we are going to put in place for him. He is a talented footballer. He’s a talented pitcher.

Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur talks to Zach Wilson during practice earlier this season.
Corey Sipkins

LaFleur, who was asked if his brother Matt, the Packers head coach, ever gave him a better Christmas present than defeating the Dolphins on Sunday, replied: « I don’t know if he gave me a better Christmas present. already given a Christmas present. »

« It was a nice gift for all of us, » LaFleur said. « So I’m not going to say it’s just for me, it was for all of us. It was cool. Obviously we were away because we played on Thursday and just to be able to sit down and watch that with my wife and being pretty stoic throughout, but when they got the W, that was probably the first smile I got all weekend.

The Jets have a chance to return the favor on Sunday as the Packers and Seahawks battle for the final NFC playoff spot.

The Jets have struggled to create turnovers on defense for spells this season. They entered the Jacksonville game last week after failing to force one in the previous three games. In the Jaguars’ first offensive series, Quinnen Williams had a sack and a forced fumble, but the Jets only managed one field goal.

Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said Thursday the Jets need to not only create more turnovers, but score on them.

« We absolutely expect to score, » he said. « We expect to get the ball back. That’s why we emphasize it so much in meetings, training sessions, tours and drills. Every time we touch the ball on the training ground, we score, it’s part of our standard and we’ve got to make it come to life in games more, we have to. »

Ulbrich, when asked about Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III, said, « You don’t want to race that guy because he’s going to outrun you. He has incredible speed when he gets to the edge, when he makes his jump cut and hits the perimeter, that’s a problem, so he’s a guy we have to bottle up.

Ulbrich gushed about how Jets rookie corner Sauce Gardner has played through his “rookie moments” this season.

« He’s had some ‘ah-ha’ moments where he understands a bit and you see him reacting and anticipating and there are also the rookie moments where he gets caught which is absolutely the norm for all rookies » , Ulbrich told me. « Overall though, just the level he played and the consistency he played as a rookie has been, I don’t know if I’ve seen it before and to think he hasn’t not even scratching the surface of where he can go is really cool for his future.”


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