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Jets’ Mike LaFleur says Zach Wilson has to ‘keep working’ – The Hamden Journal

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

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

“Keep working,’’ LaFleur said. “He’s a New York Jet and that’s not changing, that’s the way my mindset is, [quarterbacks coach] Rob Calabrese, anyone else associated with it. He comes to work, and he’s got to be prepared to not just get better, but prepared to play.

“What the last few years has taught us … is you always better be ready. The league is next-man-up. I don’t think we all thought that [fourth-string QB Chris] Streveler was going to be in there last Thursday if you had asked about a month ago. But we had to prepare Streveler for that moment and on a short week, with basically no reps he went in there and did about as good of a job as you could ask a man to do.

“So, nothing changes with Zach in terms of the preparation that we’re going to put in for him, and the work that we are going to put in for him. He’s a talented football player. He’s a talented thrower.’’

Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur talks with Zach Wilson during a practice earlier this season.
Corey Sipkin

LaFleur, asked if his brother Matt, the head coach of the Packers, has ever given him a Christmas present better than defeating the Dolphins on Sunday, responded: “I don’t know if he’s ever given me a Christmas present.’’

“That was a good 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 off because we played on Thursday and just to be able to sit back and watch that with my wife and be pretty stoic throughout, but when they got the W, it was probably the first smile I had all weekend.’’

The Jets have a chance to return the favor Sunday, because the Packers and Seahawks are battling for the final playoff berth in the NFC.

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

Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich on Thursday said 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. It’s the reason we emphasize it so much in meetings, in practice, in walk-throughs, and drill work.Every single time we touch the ball out there on the practice field, we score, it’s just part of our standard and we’ve got to make that come more to life in the games, we have to.’’

Ulbrich, asked about Seahawks running back Kenneth Walker III, said: “You don’t want to race this guy, because he’s going to outrun you. He’s got tremendous speed when he gets on the edge, when he does his jump cut and gets on the perimeter, it’s a problem, so he’s a guy we got to bottle up.’’

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

“He’s had the moments of ‘ah-ha’ where he’s getting it a little bit and you see him reacting and anticipating and there’s also the rookie moments where he gets caught on stuff, which is absolutely the norm for all rookies,’’ Ulbrich said. “Overall though, just the level in which he played, and the consistency that he’s played with as a rookie has been, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it before and to think that he hasn’t even scratched the surface of where he can go is really cool for his future.’’