Zach Wilson’s film in New York Jets’ win over Green Bay Packers shows a little bit of everything
God might not hate New York Jets fans all that much … after all.
After a miserable week marked by the loss of standout defensive end Carl Lawson for the entire season, the Jets spent a week in Green Bay that ultimately culminated in a Week 2 preseason game against the Packers at Lambeau Field.
Unlike in Week 1 of the preseason, when the vibe was one of pure excitement, many Jets fans were numb before kickoff in Week 2. Carl Lawson’s injury brought back feelings that seemed far removed from the new reality. The notion that the Jets eventually will ruin everything was back for some folks.
After the ball flew at kickoff time, it only took a few minutes for those who were feeling down and sad to kick those feelings out the door and immediately jump back on the train.
The reason? Zach Wilson.
After an impressive showing in Week 1 against the Giants, Wilson did exactly what he was supposed to: build upon it.
The second overall pick continued to execute within the structure of the offense, which gave Mike LaFleur confidence to call a shot play that ultimately resulted in the most beautiful play in the game: a deep completion to Corey Davis down to the right sideline.
There’s a calmness in Wilson that shouldn’t go unnoticed. The way he goes through his reads and maneuvers the pocket is quite special. His eyes are always downfield and his feet – despite moving pretty quickly – are never happy. He’s always ready to throw.
Wilson’s game, once again, is full of NFL regular season throws: a couple of third-down conversions to Davis, a deep bomb to Davis, and an 18-yard touchdown up the seam to Tyler Kroft immediately come to mind.
Let’s break down every single one of Wilson’s throws against the Green Bay Packers.
Zach Wilson’s first drive
First pass attempt: Check-down to Tevin Coleman
Wilson’s first attempt was a completed pass, but he botched the read. Jeff Smith was open on the hitch on the quick game, rhythm throw that LaFleur called to get Wilson started early in the game. The moment Smith breaks is when the ball should be getting there.
Still, this is a good job by Zach in getting back to his check-down in Tevin Coleman, who should have had looked back to the football a lot quicker on the swing.
Second pass attempt: Conversion on third down to Corey Davis
The Jets hit the Packers with a similar concept that they used last week vs. the Giants when Keelan Cole converted a third down. Wilson diagnoses man-to-man coverage and throws a dime to Davis, who runs a post route.
It’s Wilson once again showing his great timing by tying his feet to the route— a three-step drop plus a smooth and quick hitch step.
This Matt Bowen clip highlights Davis’s great route-running skills:
Quick thread on #Jets rookie QB Zach Wilson vs. Green Bay…
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) August 22, 2021
Third pass attempt: Check-down to Trevon Wesco
Here, the Jets run the same concept they did later in the game on the big play to Corey Davis: peel (post-wheel). Jamison Crowder comes across in motion and the cornerback does not travel with him—a great indication that the defense is playing zone.
It looks like a two-deep shell with a quarters coverage, which makes Wilson throw to his check-down, Trevon Wesco.
Once again, Wilson is extremely smooth. He quickly decided on the check-down while delivering a light football to Wesco who picked up extra yards.
Fourth pass attempt: Incompletion to Corey Davis (hitch)
This play looks like a pick-a-side call by LaFleur: Wilson can throw it to either Davis, who’s lined up as the boundary wide receiver, or to Kroft, who’s the No. 3 on the right-side trips.
It’s man across the board from the Packers defense, so Wilson picks his go-to guy, Davis.
The throw should be a bit more on the outside of Davis, who should also be more aggressive coming back to it. Not a great play for the duo.
Zach Wilson’s second drive
Fifth pass attempt: Smoke screen to Corey Davis
The smoke is a play that Aaron Rodgers has run since … forever. It’s a quick smoke screen based on the cornerback’s positioning on the backside of the run action. This is an old-school RPO.
Wilson makes a good decision and throws the screen, but there are three things that could get better here:
- His hips could turn quicker.
- The ball could have been placed better.
- The release could have been quicker.
It looks like Zach is getting comfortable with the play, so it’s completely normal to think completion first and then perfect everything else.
Sixth pass attempt: Slot screen to Jeff Smith
The Jets started the drive with back-to-back successful screen passes. I love to see two things from the play call here: Running back flare to the backside, which freezes a linebacker, as well as sending all of the big guys downfield.
The moment Jets’ receivers start to cut back behind those guys is when this will almost turn into a mid-screen.
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Zach Wilson’s third drive
Seventh pass attempt: Incompletion to Corey Davis (whip)
The Jets run the same concept they did on Wilson’s first NFL completion vs. the Giants: flood. They run the same boot action and Davis runs the same route: whip.
Wilson is late on the throw and should be pointing his shoulders to Corey. That’s what happens when you trust your arms too much. Good mechanics are always needed. It’s a routine concept that has to be hit on 10 of 10 times.
On another note, Jeff Smith burned his cornerback with a hesitation release and got open on the crosser. He continues to impress.
Eighth pass attempt: Drag to Corey Davis
Wilson runs one of the concepts he ran the most in college: mesh.
He goes through his reads fantastically: a bullet to dig to mesh. Packers defenders get confused and Corey Davis leaks wide open.
This is a great job by Wilson in buying extra time after the allowed pressure by Jimmy Murray. Great play.
Ninth pass attempt: Wheel to Corey Davis
The most impressive throw of the night: Wilson down the right sideline to Corey Davis. The throw was great, but so was Wilson’s mental processing.
He starts his progression looking at Chris Herndon, who runs a 10-yard in. Since the linebackers didn’t buy the play fake, Herndon is covered.
Wilson then quickly resets, buys extra time and finds Davis open down the right sideline on a wheel route. It’s the same concept the Jets ran earlier when Wilson hit Wesco on the check-down: peel (post-wheel).
10th pass attempt: Touchdown to Kroft
Make an NFL throw with NFL-caliber mental processing: that’s Zach Wilson.
Wilson reads the slant by Smith in the slot. It’s not open, so he quickly resets and throws a perfect ball to Kroft, defending him from the big hit.
Footwork, reads, touch on the ball—everything is A+ on this rep.
11th pass attempt: Second touchdown to Kroft
This is the staple: flood out of the boot. The Jets will do it in many different ways this season.
Kroft runs all the way across the field, behind the offensive line, and is open in the flat for the touchdown.
Zach Wilson continues to impress. He plays in rhythm, he plays with confidence and he has the tools to make magic happen when things break apart. In his second NFL game, Wilson went through his reads in different concepts, looking like a veteran quarterback in command of his long-tenured offense.
The kid’s impressive – there’s no denying it.
It’s time to smile, Jets fans; the football gods do not hate you as much as you think. (At least not right now.) If they truly held a grudge that never turned, Zach Wilson would be in San Francisco.