The Jets lined up for the first play of team drills Wednesday with the offense starting at its own 20. Breshad Perriman was lined up to Sam Darnold’s left and made a move past cornerback Arthur Maulet on a short post pattern. Darnold saw Perriman flash open and delivered the ball to Perriman, who did not break stride, and ran all the way to the end zone for a would-be touchdown.
It was one play in one mid-August practice. But if you’re looking for reasons for hope around the Jets, here is one: Darnold and Perriman already look in sync. The two have connected repeatedly early in training camp and the Jets hope that can carry over into the regular season.
“It seems like those two guys have a good chemistry … very quickly,” coach Adam Gase said.
The Jets need Perriman to be Darnold’s big-play threat. With rookie Denzel Mims still unable to practice, Perriman is the Jets’ most explosive receiver.
“He’s super explosive, very explosive athlete, gets in and out of cuts,” Darnold said. “Big dude as well. So, he’s everything you want in a receiver, and again we’re just looking forward to having him this year.”
The Jets signed Perriman to a one-year, $6.5 million deal in free agency after letting Robby Anderson walk. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound receiver is trying to break through after a frustrating NFL career. A 2015 first-round pick by the Ravens, he had a career-high 36 catches for 645 yards and six touchdowns last season for the Buccaneers. Most of that production came in the final five games when he played more because of injuries to Tampa Bay’s top wideouts.
The Jets hope Perriman will flourish with an opportunity to be the No. 1 receiver, which he has never been. They see him as more than just a deep threat.
“We told him when we were working on signing him that he’ll determine how much he’s going to do in this offense,” Gase said. “So, we don’t put limits on anybody, basically guys have to prove to me they can’t do something. When you go into this with the limited time, that can get a little dicey, but with a veteran player like this, we’re able to do more and basically get to the point where he tells us, ‘Hey, this is not my thing, let’s focus on this.’ He’s making it really easy because everything we’ve tried to do with him, he’s been able to do.”
Perriman said Darnold has made his transition to the Jets easier.
“I feel like Sam is great,” Perriman said. “His throwing ability is crazy. I love the way he throws the ball. The touch he has on the ball is unreal, like so receiver friendly. Just his personality and the way he’s able to take control of the room and the offense and the team, it’s crazy. Him being so reserved and to still have that authority when it’s time to go out there and let the bullets fly.
“Him as a quarterback, man, it’s a receiver’s dream.”
Darnold being able to bring along a new receiver comes with the comfort he is feeling on the field in his second year in Gase’s system. Gase said Darnold is doing everything faster on the field.
“I feel more comfortable,” Darnold said. “When I call a play, I [have seen] it already so I’m worried about the defense, where at this time last year I might have been worried about, ‘OK, what way is the formation? What way is the play? Where am I going?’ So I feel like I’m definitely more worried about the defense, more than I am more about what we’re doing because right when I say a play I can already envision it, already know what we’re doing. It’s a big difference from where I was at this point last year.”
Darnold’s comfort extends off the field, where he recently addressed the team, which does not come naturally to him.
“That’s definitely not, you know, my style,” Darnold said, “talking and having a speech in front of the team, but, no, I definitely feel more comfortable doing it and I had some things to say so I felt like it was the right time for me to speak up and say it. Yeah, it was definitely something that I’m continuing to get better at but, yeah, I just felt like the time was right and so I decided to speak up.”