The Jets had a boatload of cap space as well as the No. 3 overall draft pick to work with this offseason. And LB Darron Lee thinks the moves made using those resources have looked good thus far.
The most notable of the acquisitions made by GM Mike Maccagnan include CB Trumaine Johnson, LB Avery Williamson, and first-round draft pick QB Sam Darnold. These three players are the crucial chess pieces Lee thinks will help them now and in the future.
"This is a game of chess, not checkers," Lee told Jets.com's Eric Allen. "Adding those important pieces like Tru, Avery, and Sam is huge. It has us going in the right direction in my opinion, but implementing those guys in our brotherhood and our standard in what we have here is huge. Seeing how they're abiding by it also and they're jelling in smoothly with it -- it makes you excited. It can't help but make you excited because they're buying in."
Out of those three players, Lee will be working with Willilamson exclusively as the former Titan is expected to be the Jets' starting inside linebacker when training camp breaks. From their first encounters, Lee can already see what Williamson is going to bring to the table this year.
"He definitely brings tenacity," Lee said. "You can tell just by his demeanor that he wants to win, but he's a loose guy also, which helps him mesh in from a chemistry perspective. Guys are really loose. We're focused, but we're loose. Most people think us to be uptight. Last year we were probably a little more uptight than normal because we wanted to prove it to the world. Now we're just proving to ourselves we can win."
Williamson, who totaled 377 tackles and 11.5 sacks in four seasons with Tennessee, is a sideline-to-sideline linebacker in that his speed allows him to roam the field, and find the ball carrier no matter the situation. That speed has already impressed Lee.
"He plays fast, really, really fast. He's always around the ball and he's fast getting to the ball," Lee said. "Having speed is the name of the game now and having a nose for the ball is definitely going to be a help."
Williamson was a three-year, $22.5 million purchase out of free agency, but Johnson was the man Maccagnan spent big money on to land. The former Rams' cornerback signed a five-year, $72.5 million deal to headline the Jets' secondary along with Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, who both put together stellar rookie campaigns.
The Jets are hoping Johnson can bring a playmaking ability to their secondary, especially on the interception end as he ahuled in 18 over his six seasons with the Rams. Lee says he has been "a fan" of Johnson since he entered the league, and he sees his skill set would mesh nicely with the current players in the secondary.
"I had actually watched Tru since my rookie year just as a fan. I've always like his game," Lee said. "He's long, lanky and doesn't give up a lot of anything, really. Him being around here, he's a smooth guy. He's quiet, but he has that focus and that tenacity he brings to 'New Jack City.' That's what they need. Having a guy that can clock in like that, go out, play ball and make sure nobody catches anything is huge."
As for Darnold, Lee has noticed his determination to learn as much as possible whether it is on or off the field. That was his words of wisdom to the rookie quarterback in the first place.
"Come in and learn, be a sponge. You have great leaders in your room, you have great leaders on your offense, so buy into them," Lee said. "I told him I kept my mouth shut and went to work and he strikes me as that guy, so he's going to be fine."
These three players and the rest of the newest members of the Jets will be on the same field for OTAs, beginning Thursday. Though a 5-11 record doesn't show much, the Jets proved last season that their young corps can hang with some of the best teams in the league.
This season, finishing those close games with a win is what Lee and the rest of the team is looking for.
"Everybody is actually competing and wanting to win. It could be as simple as a full relay game," Lee noted. "Seeing everybody care so much and have that passion in it and then seeing it translate to the football side of things when we're calling out plays -- we want to be perfect."