The fourth and second-to-last episode of "Hard Knocks" with the NY Jets aired last night, and there were some interesting takeaways as we head towards the start of the season.
With final rosters being finalized, this episode did a good job of highlighting some of the players on the roster bubble — some made it, and some did not.
Let’s take a look at five takeaways from the fourth episode of "Hard Knocks."
Expectedly, Aaron Rodgers has been a focal point of each episode of the show. In this episode, we saw a different, more competitive side of Rodgers come out as he played his first game with the Jets.
In practice leading up to the game, Rodgers was pretty upset with the offense for making too many mistakes. Then, in the game, he was upset at Giants’ pass rusher Jihad Ward for what he felt was a late hit.
It was interesting to see this side of Rodgers as a member of the Jets, and I am sure Jets fans will love his competitiveness.
Xavier Gipson/Jason Brownlee
Two of the players that this episode really highlighted were undrafted free agents Xavier Gipson and Jason Brownlee.
Interestingly, Jets wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni said that both Gipson and Brownlee had shots to fight for the fifth wide receiver spot. On the Jets' initial 53-man roster, both Brownlee and Gipson made it, along with Irvin Charles, making it seven receivers. You have to wonder if something changes there.
Either way, both Brownlee and Gipson, but especially Gipson, seem to have made a very strong impression throughout training camp. Robert Saleh, Nathaniel Hackett, Jeff Ulbrich, Randall Cobb, and even Aaron Rodgers all raved about Gipson in this episode.
Even after Corey Davis’ retirement, the Jets' wide receiver depth might be better than most expected it to be with these two.
In this episode, it was interesting to see how tight-knit of a group the defensive line is — from the chain links given to them by defensive line coach Aaron Whitecotton, representing none of them wanting to be the weakest link, to them all going to eat at Tanzel Smart’s house.
This group very well could be the best defensive line in the NFL, so it was interesting to see how they operate both on and off the field.
This episode did feature the first release of the season, Jerome Kapp. Kapp went viral for his rookie show performance last week and was the only roster cut covered in this week’s episode.
One of the Jets' concerns with doing "Hard Knocks" was not wanting to show players being cut, so I was curious how they would approach this, as it is usually a big part of the show.
They wound up just showing Kapp walking out of the building with his things and not actually showing them telling him he was cut, which is probably for the best.
Kapp could be back on the practice squad if he is not claimed by another team, and he will certainly go down as one of the stars of this season of "Hard Knocks."
The "Gold Zone"
Another recurring topic in the show is Nathaniel Hackett’s love for the movie Austin Powers in Goldmember and the red zone offense. So naturally, he calls the red zone the "gold zone."
The Jets had one of the worst red zone offenses in the NFL last season, while Rodgers’ and Hackett in Green Bay had one of the best red zone offenses.
We already saw a red zone touchdown throw from Rodgers to Garrett Wilson in the preseason game against the New York Giants. After so many drives stalling out in the red zone last season, it is encouraging to see both Rodgers and Hackett emphasizing the importance of it this year.