New York Jets blocker Connor McGovern is ready to let bygones be bygones with incoming pass rusher Shaq Lawson.
New teammates Connor McGovern and Shaq Lawson appear to have resolved their differences over a pint…of Gatorade.
McGovern, set to enter his second season as the New York Jets’ primary center, is all too familiar with Lawson, the newest metropolitan pass rusher. The pair wore different colors during a fateful encounter in November 2019, when Lawson’s Buffalo Bills demolished McGovern and the Denver Broncos in a 20-3 shellacking in Orchard Park. Lawson played a major role in the victory, earning two sacks in part of a Buffalo defensive effort that allowed only 134 yards on the chilly afternoon.
After the game, cameras from WROC-TV captured Lawson confronting McGovern during the postgame scrum on the field.
“You remember my name, I had two sacks on your a**!” Lawson tells McGovern before being ushered away by then-teammate and McGovern’s fellow Missouri alum Mitch Morse. “I got two sacks on your a**, you remember me now!”
The Jets confirmed on Monday that they acquired Lawson from the Houston Texans in exchange for a sixth-round pick that originally belonged to San Francisco (obtained through a trade for linebacker Jordan Willis). McGovern was naturally asked about the transaction when he spoke after the Jets’ week-opening practice.
Fortunately for the Jets, McGovern said that the situation was resolved long before Lawson’s NFL passport was stamped with the Jets’ green oval. There was a prime opportunity to do so, as their new destinations…McGovern as a Jets and Lawson as a Miami Dolphin…gave them a prime opportunity to make amends.
“We played each other twice last year. It was all cordial,” McGovern said on Monday, per Brian Costello of the New York Post. “Iâ€™ve played him since then and nothing. It was just playing any other opponent. Itâ€™s game time. Everybodyâ€™s in the moment and what have you.”
â€œWe talked after the last two times we played each other. That video is from two years ago,” he continued. “The last two times we played each other. It was fine. I think we actually laughed about it when we played down in Miami last year.â€
McGovern had far more positive affairs to speak of on Monday, as he enthusiastically expressed his anticipation for the coming season. He’s particularly excited about working with the new schemes implemented by offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, believing he’s a perfect fit for what the former 49ers overseer is trying to accomplish.
“Personally, I feel like I’m confident in saying I’m built for this scheme,” McGovern said, per team reporter Ethan Greenberg. “I feel like I’ve had a really good camp, playing at some of the highest levels I’ve played at. Definitely a step up from last year, a huge step up from last year, and even another step up from two years ago. I’m looking to have, personally, a good year and I think this will be a phenomenal year for the Jets and especially the Jets offensive line.”
McGovern was part of the Jets’ blocking reformation last offseason, one of the rare metropolitan acquisitions guaranteed a second year under his contract. The former Bronco endured a roller-coaster season though he was the only New York blocker to appear in all 16 games. No Jet, in fact, played more snaps in 2020 than McGovern’s 969 during the woebegone 2020 campaign.
The center admitted that he “didn’t play as well as (he) wanted in 2020”, per Greenberg. But the hiring of Robert Saleh helped him regain his confidence going into the new season, describing the Jets’ new boss as a “leader of men”.
“He doesnâ€™t think that Xs and Os win football games. He knows players win football games,” McGovern said of Saleh, per Al Iannazzone of Newsday. “Heâ€™s the kind of guy thatâ€™s going to motivate everybody. He makes it simple enough where we can play fast and play incredibly effective but not so simple that itâ€™s easy to beat. Heâ€™s a head coach that Iâ€™ve always wanted to play for.”
McGovern is once again expected to take a starting role on the offensive line when the Jets open their regular season on Sept. 12 against the Carolina Panthers (1 p.m. ET, CBS).
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags