That was the sound of the Jets’ win-now window opening.
Monday marked the first day of OTAs, which is the unofficial commencement of a new season because returning players, free-agent additions and rookies all grab helmets for the first time and join coaches on the field.
It’s the first permitted offense-versus-defense practice setting, which for the Jets means seeing Aaron Rodgers compete against Sauce Gardner, C.J Mosley and whoever is lining up in place of the absent Quinnen Williams — a reminder that things are on the upswing but not perfect in Florham Park, N.J.
Tuesday’s practice will be open to the media, and here are five storylines to follow over the 10 OTAs:
How is Rodgers’ chemistry with his new receivers compared to his old reliables?
Fellow Packers’ exports Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard already speak the same language as Rodgers and new offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
Slow-motion highlights of Rodgers throwing a tight spiral to Garrett Wilson are great, but does anyone expect to see team-produced video of Rodgers throwing a slant when Wilson is running a dig?
Or Mecole Hardman cutting off a route as Rodgers anticipates him to continue?
Rodgers’ decision to be part of the voluntary program — he skipped most OTAs in recent years — is a sign of commitment to new teammates, guarding against falling into an old clique.
Hackett and Rodgers teamed up in Green Bay under head coach Matt LaFleur (2019-21).
Wilson and other holdovers played under former Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur (2021-22).
Different branches of the same tree could ease the assimilation.
How much do Mekhi Becton, Duane Brown and Alijah Vera-Tucker participate?
The most important tidbit that could be gleaned from OTAs is the alignment of the offensive line.
Is Becton forced to play right tackle against his wishes?
Is Brown — exclusively a left tackle throughout his 16-year career — forced to play right tackle?
Is Vera-Tucker, who has started at four positions through two seasons, exclusively at right guard?
The problem is head coach Robert Saleh’s relaxed-style OTAs included almost no 11-on-11 drills last year.
Offensive linemen mostly were limited to individual reps.
Even if the Jets are a little more active while learning a new offense, there is little reason to think that Becton (avulsion fracture to his kneecap), Brown (torn rotator cuff in his shoulder) and Vera-Tucker (torn ACL) will be pushed in returning from surgeries.
Expect them on the sidelines with trainers.
How much does Will McDonald flash?
When is the last time that a Jets’ first-round pick arrived with such little hype?
Maybe that works in McDonald’s favor after too many would-be rookie saviors.
McDonald was selected when fans still were buzzing about the Rodgers trade and he is not expected to start.
But now is McDonald’s chance to generate buzz, maybe by dusting off the spin moves scouts raved about.
Athletic pass-rushers can stand out in OTAs because offensive linemen are not truly blocking, there is no drawback to assuming every snap is a pass and they just need to brush a quarterback’s jersey for a dead-ball “sack.”
How does Zach Wilson carry himself?
Saleh urged Wilson to “get away” and clear his head after the season.
Did he do that?
The former No. 2 draft pick returns to the field as the No. 2 quarterback.
Wilson’s friendship with Rodgers should prevent sulking.
But the reality that he has zero chance to win the starting job — instead of an alternate scenario where he could’ve beaten out a quarterback such as Jimmy Garoppolo by playing well — has to hurt.
Is Wilson attached to Rodgers’ hip to learn?
Do his throwing mechanics, which got so out of whack before his benching last year, look any different?
How comfortable does he look when it’s his turn to run the offense compared to third-stringer Tim Boyle, another Hackett disciple?
Where is Williams?
Williams’ decision to skip all voluntary team activities while negotiating a contract extension is expected to continue.
Skipping the first two phases of the offseason program — mostly classroom and strength training — was no big deal.
Skipping non-padded practices like these rises to the level of a minor concern, if only to get comfortable with new interior line neighbors Al Woods and Quinton Jefferson while playing two-hand touch.
The last of the Jets’ 10 OTAs is June 9.
If Williams is still in a contract standoff and not with teammates when mandatory minicamp begins June 13, that’s when the flares go up.
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