The oldest tricks in the playbook may not work for the youngest players on the Jets.
Attacking the left tackle in his first game with a variety of complex looks is a strategy Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams used over his long career. However, if Buffalo Bills are going to challenge Mekhi Becton, it would be wise to heed Williams’ warning based on four weeks of pre-season practice.
“No matter who you are, it’s a good idea to arrange a fist fight in the phone booth,” said Williams. “He is a very strong young man and he will only get better through a more competitive snap. Sometimes if you’re a crafty type of person, defensive men don’t take care of you. Because he’s stupid, our defenders love him a lot and respect him.”
It’s hard to imagine a phone booth that’s big enough to fit a 6-foot-7,363-pound Becton. It’s easier to imagine a first-round draft pick squeezing Sam Da Norold’s back than the Jets did against Bills in Week 1 of last season.
“Because it’s my first NFL game, it’s a lot of excitement and tension,” said Becton. “I finally enjoyed planning games with others all week. Just remember my skills and challenges.”
Becton, 21, is one of four new starters on the offensive line. Greg Van Roten started his career in 2016 as a third year professional.
“I had butterflies in my stomach, but I remember good energy,” said Van Roten. “The first drive is fast, everything is flying and hanging there and doing work.
“If I give him one advice,’You can do it. It starts to slow down. Just put your head on the water. ‘For a rookie, that’s all because you have to experience it yourself.”
Rather than getting stuck in a one-on-one battle with Jerry Hughes, Mario Addison or Trent Murphy, Becton is hoping for stunts and other forms of chaos in Bills tricks.
“It’s part of football, so I’m sure it’s coming,” Becton said. “I am looking forward to whatever they will throw at me.”
Becton’s size offers intimidation, but his approach earns respect.
“I have never seen such a person [big] Meet in person,” said Le’Veon Bell. “To see him work every day, he is someone who understands football. He’s not the one who leans on you or wants to use his weight. He is a smart player with excellent foot-hand and eye coordination. If he makes a mistake, he gets mad about it. That’s what you want.”
Nicknamed “Big Ticket”, Becton makes her debut in a fanless arena. This can eliminate the big challenge faced by aggressive linemen in road games despite the artificial noise that is delivered at 70 decibels. In other words, it’s a silent count communication when the noisy crowd amplifies before the third down snap.
“We will go to the top, and if we have to be silent, we will be silent,” said Van Roten. “I don’t know the source of that reading because I can set it to a specific volume at the booth and much louder on site. I heard [Thursday] Kansas City Game Night: It sounded much louder than 70 decibels. But I wouldn’t be surprised if we had to do that.”
Becton’s teammates aren’t surprised to see him actually take someone down. It’s time to show the rest of the league.
“They didn’t know who I was coming here, so I had to show everyone who I was,” Becton said. “I had to keep playing with that chip on my shoulder and it will stay on my shoulder. I’m doing physical play and I had the man in front of me finish with every play. I’ve been up to that motto ever since I came here.”