Zach Wilson - Can the Jets go back to the future?
When New York Jets coach Robert Saleh decided to punt the ball down the middle of the field on the last play of their loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday, the index fingers of blame came out from inside and outside the organization. Saleh could have had his punter kick the ball out of bounds to ensure the game got to overtime, but instead, his team gave up a stunning punt return and the Jets lost to the Patriots for the 14th straight time surpassing the Bronco’s 13-game losing streak to the Chiefs as the longest such streak in the NFL.
The game should have never come down to the bizarre ending. In what was some of the worst quality offense we have seen in the NFL this year, there was plenty of blame to go around.
For the Jets, I’m not sure which was worse, 6 first downs, 3/14 on third down, 103 total yards or just 44 yards passing. The numbers say one thing, but it’s worse than that in my opinion. You have questionable offensive design along with play calling that has no flexibility to adjust depending on scheme and coverage of the defense. Only to be outdone by poor execution by the Jets offense all day.
Turning defenders loose up front, using TE’s in the pass game who cannot run or separate well enough to be an open target, depending on WR’s to block LB’s or asking running backs to run option routes vs zone coverages, all contributed to a pathetic performance for the ages.
Having said all this, the majority of the attention has been focused on QB Zach Wilson and his lack of development. Wilson, last year’s second pick in the draft who has been treated with kid gloves to this point in his career, was awful vs the Patriots. His performance on Sunday was a career low point and left the Jets with no choice but to bench him, in my opinion, for next week’s battle at home vs 3-8 Chicago. I do not buy the theory that benching the kid, destroys him for the future but instead, I think it’s the only thing that can save him.
GM Joe Douglas and Saleh are responsible for making this decision. I am obviously not blaming Wilson singularly for the Jets struggles for now but he also has to be held accountable both publicly and in his own locker room.
His post-game response and his lack of humility clearly tell me that he doesn’t get it. Wilson’s immaturity and lack of self-awareness are telling me that he needs to grow up. I actually think he will be a good NFL QB someday, but right now his fundamentals are sloppy and his instincts and anticipation that made him so good at BYU are nonexistent.
Wilson and his regressions make us question his preparation and leave one thinking he is the one who needs the study hall-like “must watch video” clause that Arizona and QB Kyler Murray made famous before the season started, invoked in his own contract.
Wilson currently looks downfield but DOES NOT SEE open people or coverage. His decision making is terrible and he is playing without flow or anticipation. Mind you, these are all things Wilson did well in college. I thought he was advanced in all of these areas vs all the QB options in last years draft.
As I have said many times in this space and on “The Football GM” podcast, QB’s are organizational successes’ or failures. It’s not how smart the offensive coordinator may or may not be, it’s what he can teach and instill in his players and in this case, how good he can get his QB to play. One needs to look no further than across the field at the Jets opposing QB (if he plays because he’s banged up) next week.
Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields was seen by some a month ago as a complete bust. However, after flailing with Fields in the first five weeks of the season, the Bears offensive staff has adjusted their scheme to exactly what he does well. Now, Fields is the hope and a breath of fresh air for Bears fans.
I don’t think, as some do, that the Jets are a Super Bowl team. This team has several flaws, but they could be a playoff team because of their defense. At season’s end, if Wilson isn’t growing positively with his skill set, you can bet the Jets will have to look into their offensive scheme and system for answers going forward.
Let’s cut to the chase. Jets Offensive Coordinator Mike LaFleur has about six weeks to show progress! Zach Wilson and his contract are not going anywhere and the Jets have to look at every avenue to get him to the next level.
I thought BYU’s offensive attack fit Wilson’s skill set perfectly at the time he was drafted. Current Baylor OC Jeff Grimes was running the BYU offense then. Would it be crazy for the Jets to implement the same system that Wilson was successful running in college?
Why are the Jets trying to plug a square peg into a round hole? It is a wide-open offense that worked effectively for Grimes in his two recent stops and a system that Wilson clearly mastered. Just sayin, before we kick the QB, taken second in the NFL draft, who was productive and showed natural feel for the pocket, anticipation, accuracy and decision making, to the curb, why not GO BACK TO THE FUTURE and make every effort to get the best out of our QB?
Seems to me that there should be more people put on notice than just the QB.