Jets’ Mike LaFleur rags on himself for lineman TD play call

Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur on Thursday chided himself for a poor play call on Zach Wilson’s scoring pass to backup offensive lineman Conor McDermott last Sunday in the win over the Jaguars.

LaFleur joked that McDermott “thinks I will solely design [more plays] for him,” adding, “He was part of the progression [on the scoring play] and we found him, which was cool. It was a heck of a catch.”

LaFleur then revealed he didn’t like the way the play unfolded as he watched from the coaches’ booth.

“I saw how out-leveraged we were to the left and I knew, ‘This isn’t going to be great,’ ” he said. “Fortunately for us, that was fourth down. If that was third down, who knows if he would have found him, [Wilson] might have gotten rid of it a little bit quicker.

Jets lineman Conor McDermott celebrates a touchdown with Nick Bawden.
Getty Images

“From my vantage point, I saw how open McDermott was, but I also saw bodies over there as well, and then I saw McDermott’s hands go up, and I’m like, ‘Oh, man,’ because I knew that he was going to have to make kind of an adjusted catch. He made a heck of a play, and kudos to those guys for getting that thing done on not a great play call.”

In the wake of Wilson’s 91-yard rushing performance last week, Jets interim head coach Ron Middleton, who led the team in place of Robert Saleh, said LaFleur had urged the rookie quarterback to make more plays with his feet.

“I don’t know if I got on him too hard with it … just conversations, trying to coach him up,” LaFleur said Thursday. “Within the moment, I think that’s where it’s real. I thought he had an opportunity on a scramble versus New Orleans to pick up more yards than he did. He got an explosive, but I thought there was a lot more.

“I kind of just told him in that moment, ‘There’s more there for you. You’re a better athlete than you’re giving yourself credit for.’ “

Denzel Mims has one reception for 4 yards on seven targets in the four games he has played since returning from the reserve/COVID list. Making those numbers more alarming is the fact the Jets have been down their top receivers during that time.

Jets wide receiver Denzel Mims catches a pass at practice in Florham Park, New Jersey on Dec. 29, 2021.
Denzel Mims
Bill Kostroun/New York Post

Lafleur defended the continued lack of production from Mims despite being healthy.

“He’s not having the season that any of us wanted for him, most importantly, himself,” LaFleur said. “I know what he wants from this league, I know what he wants from himself and he’s going to be resilient.“We’re going to continue to work with him. He’s fun to coach because you look at him, he hears you, he sees you, there’s eye contact and it’s just continuing to develop him and making him the best he could be. This is not the end of the story for Denzel.’’

The Jets activated G Alijah Vera-Tucker, G Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, S Ashtyn Davis and DE John Franklin-Myers from the reserve/COVID list on Thursday. They also restored WR Vyncint Smith and DE Hamilcar Rashed to the practice squad and released S Elijah Benton and WR Isaiah Zuber from the practice squad.

During the practice window open to the media, both WRs Jamison Crowder and Elijah Moore were doing some running on a side field. Crowder (calf) did not practice full, but Moore was not listed on the injury report. DL Sheldon Rankins (knee) practiced on a limited basis Thursday after not practicing Wednesday. S Elijah Riley, who suffered that scary concussion at Miami, practiced full for a second consecutive day. LB C.J. Mosley took a maintenance rest day.