New York Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson is playing even better than you think he is
Tenth overall pick Garrett Wilson is off to a torrid start. The New York Jets’ prized rookie leads the team in targets (32), receptions (18), receiving yards (214), and total touchdowns (2).
Wilson’s numbers compare favorably across the league. He leads all rookies in receptions. Among all players in the league, Wilson is 19th in both receptions and receiving yards.
As stellar as all of these numbers are, they actually undersell how well Wilson is playing.
We already broke down some clips of Wilson’s teammate, Elijah Moore, getting open and being missed by quarterback Joe Flacco. Well, Moore is not the only victim of Flacco’s terrible field vision. Wilson has also seen his good routes go to waste on a frequent basis in all three of the Jets’ games this season.
Wilson caught 6-of-10 targets for 60 yards in the Jets’ Week 3 loss to the Bengals, but with better quarterbacking, Wilson easily would have had his second consecutive 100-yard performance.
Let’s take a look at some of Wilson’s unrealized routes from the Bengals game.
Slot right (innermost of two WRs)
Joe Flacco inexplicably decided to toss a deep bomb to Elijah Moore on a fourth-and-5 play despite having a clean pocket and two good options underneath, including Wilson.
Wilson separates on a quick cut over the middle. Bracketed by two defenders, Wilson does a good job of selling vertical to discourage the inside defender from sinking down. Wilson makes a sharp inside break and is open for the first down.
Tight end Tyler Conklin is also open on an out route.
On any other down, Flacco might be justified to take this one-on-one shot down the field, but on fourth-and-5, he’s got to look for his highest-percentage options first. Wilson or Conklin should have been targeted here.
Wilson finds a soft spot in the zone coverage and sits down wide-open in the middle of the field, right in Flacco’s field of vision. Flacco instead takes a shorter and more difficult throw to Conklin. Once again, the pocket is clean.
This one’s not really on Flacco. Wilson wins on an out route from the slot as he releases inside, stacks, gives a head fake to the inside, and breaks out. He’s open but the pressure (allowed by Max Mitchell) prevents Flacco from finding Wilson.
Slot left (outermost of two WRs)
Pressure is the culprit once again. Wilson separates on an out route and is the only viable option on fourth-and-6, but instant pressure allowed by Conor McDermott prevents Flacco from having any shot at making a play.
Wilson separates on a post route. He sells vertically to the outside, getting the corner to hop outside, and then breaks back inside. With no safety in the deep middle, Wilson is open for a touchdown, but Flacco throws the ball away.
Running a seam route up the slot, Wilson manipulates the safety to create vertical separation.
First working against the underneath linebacker, Wilson breaks inside and crosses the LB’s face while looking back to the QB, hoping to get the safety to bite on the inside route so he can beat him deep. It works as the safety sinks down to get in front of Wilson, leaving room over the top. Wilson continues vertically and has room in the end zone but Flacco airmails it.
Let Garrett Cook!
Garrett Wilson is eighth in the NFL with 32 targets, and yet, it feels like he still doesn’t get the ball enough. This kid is torching defenders at an absurd rate for a 22-year-old who is three games into his career. He is already demanding the football.
Upon his return, Zach Wilson will have a shiny pair of toys to play with in Garrett and Elijah. Zach has surely been reviewing tape with the offense each week. His mouth has to be watering watching these two phenoms create windows for big plays on a routine basis.
There shouldn’t be a ton of overthinking required for Zach once he gets back on the field. Just look No. 17’s way and there’s a good shot he’s open. If he’s not, then No. 8 most likely is.
The Jets finally have a dynamic duo of wide receivers that a young quarterback can trust.
Route running is something that never gets explained in depth. Im no expert but as I understand it is about, footwork, timing, positioning, and angles. If you watch Wilson on the fade TD vs Cleveland you see that he takes two steps and is wide open. That’s because he made his break with the CB leaning on the inside foot. That little detail means the CBs momentum is working against him and the split second he needs to get moving back the other way is where the seperation is created. Thats a lot of space to gain so quickly and its a microcosm of what a good route runner does to get open. He’s slippery for sure but his game is built on fundamentals and precision and thats why hes going to be great at this. People are comparing him to JJ in Minnesota, go watch Jerry Rice and tell me what you see.