Sanjay Lal coached the wide receivers of the Oakland Raiders from 2009-11, before taking the same job with the Jets prior to the 2012 season. Lal recalls a particular game during his tenure in Oakland when an opposing player that he would identify only as “an elite cornerback” attempted to negotiate a deal with one of Lal’s receivers.

During downs when the Raiders handed the ball to a running back, the cornerback said, “Take it easy on me. I’ll just back up on these run plays and we’ll both be out of the play.”

Lal teaches his receivers that such an arrangement is deceptively one-sided.

“When it’s third and 8, he’s saved up all that juice and he’s going to break on the ball faster than he ever has and blow the play up or get a pick because you didn’t block him on every play before that,” Lal explains.

To Jets receivers, Lal stresses blocking as much as route running. From the first day of training camp, he escorts the group to the five-man sled, where wide receivers strike the weighted pads as offensive linemen frequently do. Film study outlines defensive backs’ tendencies during running plays. Every wide receiver is present for a weekly Wednesday meeting when Mike Devlin, a Jets offensive line coach, installs running plays for the coming game.

It might seem odd that a position often associated with a “give-me-the-damn-ball” mentality is not just required, but willing to, as Stephen Hill says, “get down and dirty to put a cornerback on his butt.” The success of the Jets offense, however, hinges upon such blue-collar shifts.

When distributing marks for each week’s game, Lal awards as much credit for a smartly executed block as a perfectly run route and catch. Blocking is a skill Lal likens to an art form.

Naturally, then, Lal figures should this crop of Jets be confronted with a proposal similar to that receiver in Oakland a few years ago, the response would be identical.