Evaluating Zach Wilson’s short appearance in New England
After an offseason filled with hope, New York Jets fans are facing the harsh truth: It’s not easy to win in the NFL.
With inexperience all around, the Jets have struggled to put a consistent product on the field. Zach Wilson, the team’s hopeful franchise quarterback, has been the epitome of that with a roller-coaster-type season.
Zach continued this trend against the Patriots, even in only two quarters. The second overall pick showed his usual flashes but also committed a fair number of mistakes.
Facing a more aggressive, complex Patriots’ defense than the one he saw in Week 2, Wilson impressed with his cool and ability to identify the proper matchups on the Jets’ man-beater concepts.
However, Wilson’s post-snap footwork and decision-making are still problematic. The Jets’ quarterback tends to throw the football out of a wide base and forces some throws that are not there.
Despite the up and down performance by Wilson, Mike LaFleur had a solid plan.
Expecting a good amount of man coverage from the Patriots, the Jets’ play-caller focused on man-beater plays. He trotted out empty sets out of condensed splits to give the Jets’ pass-catchers leverage advantages to the outside, which was an effective response to the Pats’ man coverage. It worked wonders on third downs.
One trend to note with the Jets’ receiving group: the veterans are playing better than the youngsters. Jamison Crowder and Keelan Cole are much more reliable than Elijah Moore right now. Moore, despite scoring a touchdown, committed a few mistakes.
Playing wide receiver is all about being in the right place at the right time, and Crowder and Cole are much more consistent than Moore at doing it right now.
The Jets’ offensive line continues to present the same issues.
New England was much more complex upfront this time, utilizing stunts and slants to bully the Jets’ OL. It worked to perfection, both on pass protection snaps and run blocking snaps, exposing the Jets’ communication issues.
We are six games in and the offensive line continues to present the same problems. This blatant lack of communication lies on the coaching staff and center Connor McGovern, who is responsible for the line calls on the field.
Considering the way the Jets’ defense played, Wilson staying in the game wouldn’t have made much of a difference on the final outcome. Ulbrich’s squad couldn’t stop a nosebleed, and the Jets’ offense wasn’t going to be able to keep up in a shootout no matter who was at quarterback.
The Jets’ offensive unit is committing too many mistakes right now to stay in a high-scoring game.
Breaking down Wilson’s 12 passing snaps
Wilson had an up and down game, despite the small sample size.
Wilson alternated between good and bad decisions while still playing with sloppy footwork. Positively, Wilson looked calm and was able to identify the man-coverage matchups better than in Week 2.
Below is a breakdown of every completion, incompletion, and sack from Wilson’s trip to Gillette Stadium.
Looking ahead: Bengals followed by Colts on a short week
With Flacco coming in, Wilson will have the chance to see how a veteran operates the scheme. The impact of a veteran QB is overrated by some and underrated by others, but it’s undeniable that Wilson can benefit from Flacco’s presence. How much? That depends on Wilson and how much he will be able to grasp from the former Super Bowl MVP.
With Flacco, I’m confident fans will see a good game from the Jets’ offense against the Bengals. New York has playmakers and Flacco will get the ball in their hands quickly.
It’s fair to wonder if Denzel Mims will finally have a role since he had good chemistry with Flacco last season. Mims had 133 yards over two games with Flacco.
Despite not being a staple of the offense, it would be good to see the Jets utilizing Mims vertically with the former Raven under center – just like Adam Gase did last season.
The development of the younger players and finding out how this offense looks without Wilson are two excellent reasons to watch the Bengals’ game closely on Halloween.
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