Zach Wilson, Mike LaFleur, New York Jets, Film, Scheme, Jets
Zach Wilson, Mike LaFleur, New York Jets, Getty Images

Zach Wilson’s missed opportunities hurt the New York Jets in their gut-wrenching loss at Foxborough

Well, so much for the hopeful improvement Zach Wilson showed against the Buffalo Bills before the bye week. It feels like that game took place in 2021.

A couple of weeks later, it’s all back to square one at One Jets Drive.

While it is back to square one, let’s be honest: It’s not like Wilson was showing good signs this season, improved more against Buffalo, and now had one setback against the New England Patriots. No.

The truth is that Wilson hasn’t been the guy Jets fans thought he would be in his sophomore year thus far, even going back to the preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles, in which he committed alarming mistakes that were put under the rug due to an unfortunate knee injury.

The bad signs have been there. It’s time to look them in the face and deal with them.

Against Buffalo, Wilson performed relatively well by executing the only thing he can do right now: a one-read, RPO-heavy offense. That is it.

That trick wouldn’t work against Bill Belichick – and it didn’t, as we all saw.

Belichick flooded everything underneath, often using “ameba” looks to confuse Wilson. At some point in the game, the Patriots were just having fun with their linebackers: Dropping each one at a time, messing with the young quarterback’s reads.

The BYU product had so many issues that make his film frustrating to watch. These issues are so blatant that most Jets fans with any football acumen could point out something that was wrong on each play: footwork, not trusting his eyes, upper body mechanics.

It is all there.

As bad as it is right now, the genesis of all of his mistakes remains the same: his mind.

Wilson played well against Buffalo because it was a simpler plan, yes, but also because it worked. When things are going well, Wilson plays well. When they don’t and he makes a mistake… well, it all spirals down.

Go back to the first half of this Patriots game. Wilson wasn’t playing awful (he was below average, yes). The team couldn’t run the ball and you could question some of Mike LaFleur’s run/pass decisions. That was the story – until Wilson, with 0:56 left in the second quarter, missed an open Tyler Conklin over the middle on third down and Devin McCourty dropped an easy INT.

It was game over from then on.

What caught my eye, specifically, was that LaFleur continued to give Wilson chances to bounce back, calling five first-down passes in the second half, trying to give Wilson some nice windows to counter how aggressive the Patriots’ defense was against the run.

The result of those five calls? Four incompletions and a sack.

That’s already bad objectively, but the game film paints an even worse picture: Wilson missed open guys, had footwork problems, and simply failed to see the field. It’s some stuff that you just don’t see replicated around the league.

It was one of the worst halves of New York Jets quarterbacking over the past 15 years. Considering how those years have been, that means a lot.

Right now, Zach Wilson is a quarterback with shaky confidence that is holding a talented New York Jets team back.

I thought Robert Saleh was going to bench him at the end of the third quarter for Mike White, just because the team needed a spark. I was wrong.

Saleh left things open in his Monday press conference, which at least is a sign that, if Wilson doesn’t get benched before the Bears’ game this week, he should be on the shortest of the leashes.

White is no All-Pro, but he’s an operator. He can keep the offense ahead of the sticks and has shown good decision-making on some occasions.

Also, keep that in mind: football is a team sport that’s led by emotions.

I’m pretty sure the Jets locker room would support White and rally around him, considering how likable White is and Wilson’s unbelievable comments in his presser (not only the “let down” thing, but mentioning the wind a couple of times was also a terrible look).

Don’t think that’s true? Take a look at the Washington Commanders, who are playing hard for Taylor Heinicke and now have a winning record. It’s football, the ultimate team sport in which emotions can impact the overall team performance beyond an individual.

Right now, the truth is the truth: Benching Wilson might be the only option to keep the locker room honest and to give the Jets the best chance to win.

And that’s according to the film:

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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]
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4 months ago

Zach is not a good qb and never will be. You can see it all last year and this year. As a diehard, I’ve rooted for him to develop, but his deficiencies are just so glaring. Poor decisionmaking and accuracy are just never overcome for young qbs. He hasn’t shown any glimpses of promise. If I hear one more fanboy compare him to early Josh Allen and Petyon Manning, I’m going to lose it. You can’t cherry-pick a couple HOF qbs and disregard the 99 out of 100 terrible young qbs that stayed terrible their whole careers. Honestly, I would be fine if we never see another snap from Zach and move on. Realistically, he’ll keep starting through next year, and this team will suffer greatly.

4 months ago

Let’s not forget that Saleh is a rookie too and he also was slow in making a decision, the decision to bench Wilson, which he should have done. Going forward, he has got to up his game in a hurry to manage this situation involving not only the QB but the team. Going forward with regard to Wilson, even if he improves against softer competition and in better weather conditions, what will that prove? We have seen how he responded in playoff type conditions and he stepped down, not up. Maybe he can grow, but it is disturbing to see how he responded to a challenge. The guys who win under favorable conditions and lower pressure tend to lead teams to a dead end, and can waste years in the process.

4 months ago

Nice analysis.

Let’s face it, the guy’s just not tough. You mentioned his mind. Which good QB gets his mind beaten like that?

It’s probably a good thing he missed Mims on that easy TD early, because otherwise they’d have won and he would have avoided a lot of well-deserved criticism.

Bring in Mike White. They said he was #2, and it would be dysfunctional to start someone they called #3 or 4 instead.