Sidearm Session, Zach Wilson, New York Jets, Houston Texans
Sidearm Session, Zach Wilson, New York Jets, Houston Texans, Jet X Graphic, Getty Images

Zach Wilson’s lack of confidence was evident in Houston

The New York Jets finally won on the road, taking care of business against a veteran-ladened 2-9 Houston Texans squad. Breaking the offensive dominance’ trend, New York’s third win of the season was sustained by a defense that shut down Tyrod Taylor’s offense after halftime.

The offense, led by a returning Zach Wilson, struggled. And Mike LaFleur treated him the same way he did Mike White and Joe Flacco.

LaFleur tried to start the game the same way he did over the past four weeks: throwing the football. The Jets ran the ball nine times and called a pass play on 15 snaps until halftime.

The video-form film breakdowns are further down on this page. 

In the second half, realizing the team’s struggles, LaFleur changed his approach.

Past halftime, the Jets called 24 run plays and only 15 pass plays. That change of approach bumped the offense’s overall production. From gaining only 91 yards in the first half, New York totaled 175 yards of offense in the second half.

There’s nothing like a good ground game for a young quarterback who’s struggling to get in a rhythm. That was the case after the break, and it should be LaFleur’s number one goal per easing Zach into high-percentage throws.

Wilson’s inability to get in a rhythm, to be honest, is the biggest story with this team right now.

Wilson’s rookie status definitely plays a role in his struggles, but the happy feet and overthinking tendencies are starting to turn into a legitimate concern.

Ever since New England’s week 2 game, Wilson has turned into a different player than the one fans saw in college, preseason, and in week one at Carolina.

And that’s the main concern. This undeniable contrast in Wilson’s game. The fact that Wilson never looked like this before.

Zach Wilson, a calming presence through his college career and in August with the Jets, is now an overthinking machine. His nervousness is leading him into mistakes that weren’t often spotted in his tape before the pros.

Despite never being a quarterback with perfect footwork, Wilson didn’t have a happy feet tendency in college. He seemed comfortable playing “inside the phone booth” and making tough throws.

Wilson’s tape, right now, is filled with lower-body mechanics issues.

Zach himself acknowledged that he never had this kind of struggle in his entire football career:

“I’m just frustrated [with] myself as to why I’m not just letting it [go] and playing efficiently like I have my entire life,” per Robby Sabo. “So, I just got to tell myself it’s part of the process, get back to work, and keep getting better. Just understand there is a lot of work to do.”

Six games into his professional career, though, Wilson is not letting It go. Each time the young quarterback’s first read isn’t there, his lower body itches. It’s a sign that the Jets’ second overall selection isn’t going into his job’s ordinary motions as relaxed as he should be going.

Wilson’s inaccuracy on short throws is also a sign that he’s a bit nervous right now.

It’s almost like Wilson is afraid that something bad is going to happen anytime he throws the ball short, so he must aim his passes. That leads to inaccuracy, which was a theme even on some of his completions vs. Houston.

Wilson is simply not relaxed enough to play quarterback right now. There are many things a quarterback must sort through on a play-by-play basis. Calmness is a must. And the Jets signal-caller is sorting his mind in the middle of a continued confidence funk.

Wilson usually improves in the second half because that’s when his nervousness settles down. It happened in Houston again. The second half is when he sees that things are working and realizes what the defense is doing.

That’s why Wilson loosens up a bit as the game goes on.

Robert Saleh acknowledged in the post-game presser that Wilson has “shown that when he comes out of the locker room in the second half, he’s comfortable, he sees the field, he’s gotten a chance to see what the defense is giving him.”

Knowing that, Saleh stated that the goal is to “try to get him comfortable earlier.”

The Titans game, in Week 5, is a great example of how it takes a few good plays by the offense for Wilson to settle down.

It took a few deep bombs outside the structure, but Wilson’s entire game overall improved once he started making plays. From footwork to mechanics, to accuracy. Everything got better once he saw things around him working.

And that’s precisely what Wilson needs most right now: a sequence of plays going his way.

It’s up to Zach himself and the Jets coaching staff to figure out a way to conquer It. Running the ball, quick screens, defined throws… whatever It takes, New York must make Wilson comfortable early.

This team’s goal and main objective until the end of the season are to get better play from their franchise quarterback. They must utilize all means necessary to do It.

Houston Texans Film breakdown

In this week’s sidearm session, I decided to do a mixed-bag review of Wilson’s game. Most of his pass attempts against Houston will be analyzed, good and bad.

It was a shaky performance overall, but one that offers many positives to take away. The fact that Wilson settled down after the half, for example, was impressive. His play-making ability to score a touchdown is exactly what you want to see, too. And Wilson converted some clutch third and fourth downs.

Still, there were some concerning trends in Wilson’s tape. The good and the bad, a mixed bag, is below:

Philadelphia Eagles look ahead: Time to stack wins

The Jets have a good chance to string back-to-back wins against the Philadelphia Eagles, who lost at MetLife Stadium last weekend to the New York Giants.

It would be New York’s first win over Philadelphia. The Jets are 0-11 all-time against the Eagles.

If you are looking for a sign to know if Zach Wilson is the one, conquering the franchise’s first win against the Eagles is a strong one. Philly’s defense is one of the most vanilla in the NFL—in a sense that it doesn’t disguise much (just like the Jets).

It should help Wilson’s goal to start fast and calm down since he will know from the jump what the other team is trying to do to him.

Getting Corey Davis back would also be huge for Wilson. Despite Davis not playing great thus far, he’s a rangy receiver that will help Wilson in the quick passing game, with good YAC production.

It’s a great opportunity for Wilson to play well in front of those starving Jets fans, whose latest December joy at home happened in 2018 when Sam Darnold was fool’s gold.

One can only hope the gold’s for real now.

Full film breakdown (over 30 minutes)

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A former quarterback, Vitor Paiva wants to showcase a deep analysis of what's really happening on the field, showcasing what's really on the mind of a football player during a play, in his Sidearm Session. Email: vitorpaivagon[at]gmail.com
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Jets71
Jets71
10 months ago

Vitor, isn’t it time to stop calling it “overthinking” and start calling it what it really is? He’s in over his head and doesn’t know what to do. He’s shown zero improvement in any game this season. It’s rinse repeat week after week. For all of the talk of his “mental horsepower” and smarts on & off the field it’s pretty clear to me he’s a head case. Everybody keeps saying, “he needs to calm down”, they brought in Beck to help calm him down, and then he admits making bad plays because he’s worried about his knee. He’s air-mailing 3 yard passes that should turn 2nd and 8 into 3rd and 2 or 3. I mean he looks like Tebow trying to throw to the RB’s at this point. The bottom line is, he’s a mental disaster right now. I’m not confident he’ll ever change that, in fact I’m only slightly optimistic he’ll be a decent NFL QB let alone a franchise QB. If we are being 100% honest, he’s shown nothing on the field in the NFL that should, would or could make anybody believe he’s a legit NFL QB (a couple of nice throws in one game isn’t close to enough). This is a major problem and it’s not going away because it’s “part of the process” this is who is he.