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Garrett Wilson’s film oozes untapped potential | NY Jets breakdown

Garrett Wilson, NY Jets, NFL, Film Review, Breakdown
Garrett Wilson, New York Jets, Getty Images

There isn’t a cap on Garrett Wilson’s ceiling in 2024

There is no doubt that Garrett Wilson was not expecting his 2023 season to go the way that it did. It is almost hard to evaluate him and be negative in any way when you watch the film from last season. Wilson was at a massive disadvantage in many different ways.

For starters, he had the worst quarterback play in the NFL in 2023. To put that into numbers, he had a 35% “off-target rate” on deep passes, one of the league’s worst marks. Even when Wilson was open, which was a lot of the time, the quarterback often missed him due to bad timing or inaccuracy. Another obstacle for Wilson was the O-line, which often prevented him from getting the ball due to quick pressure.

Along with those issues, being the team’s No. 1 pass-catching option with no legitimate No. 2 threat allowed defenses to roll coverages to him with ease, helping phase him out of the game for drives and quarters at a time.

Considering all of these reasons, it has been a long time since I was as high on a Jets player going into a year as I am on Garrett Wilson going into 2024. The Jets genuinely asked Wilson to do everything for them last year. I feel that this year, it will be a lot easier for them to focus on his biggest strengths as a receiver rather than ask him to do everything. With the additions to the receiver room, the offensive line, and the health of Aaron Rodgers, it is hard for me to not envision Wilson having an enormous season.

Let’s look at some of the film from last season to show the promise and potential that Wilson displayed, whether the ball was in his hands or not.

Garrett Wilson’s unfulfilled opportunities in 2023

Tough rep here for GW (one of many that we’ll see). Nathaniel Hackett does a good job getting a free release for GW using pre-snap motion on a well-designed play-action play. GW is open on the crosser when Zach Wilson hits the top of his drop (GW even puts his hand up), but ZW decides to check it down. This will be a consistent explosive play come 2024, as Rodgers will be targeting GW when he is this open across the middle of the field.

Hackett dials up another nice throwback PA concept. Tim Boyle needs to give GW a chance one-on-one with the safety – at worst, underthrow it and let him come back to the ball. GW does a great job flattening his route to be QB-friendly because of the safety depth, but Boyle decides to throw it away. Once again, this will not be the case with Rodgers. With No. 8 under center, this is a TD.

It hardly gets more frustrating than this. The Jets motion GW to ensure he gets a free release. Wes Schweitzer gives up a pressure but No. 7 has time to throw to a wide-open GW. Any QB that plays with a lick of anticipation throws this one earlier and it’s seven points. I couldn’t feel worse for GW watching the tape back, but plays like this show the breakout that is coming.

Some small things stand out from GW’s game. Here, he knows that Zach may be hot with the mugged-up look from the defense. GW turns to give ZW a target right when the ball is snapped, and with Rodgers, the ball would be in his hands right away. Love to see that. When the ball doesn’t come, he runs a sail route and makes a great effort for the toe tap catch, which looks in-bounds, in my opinion, although it was ruled incomplete. Insane rep overall that shows up as nothing in the box score. This is why you must watch the film in order to evaluate anyone.

Perfect example of what I was talking about in the beginning of this article. On man coverage plays, the coverage was consistently rolled over to GW, meaning the middle-of-field safety would shade toward him. Here, that allows Conklin to have a one-on-one opportunity, and he makes the most of it with a great contested catch up the seam. Another play that shows up as nothing in the box score for GW, but his presence on film is evident.

A great route that serves as evidence of why GW was ranked fifth out of all WRs in ESPN’s Open Score. I love how Garrett picks his head up and gives a good four steps to sell the post to Derek Stingley, and then takes only two steps to get out of his break on the deep out. Elite change-of-direction and route running savvy that creates a ton of separation for the catch. He’s so damn good.

It’s supposed to be a back-shoulder fade to GW here, but horrible ball placement forces him to try to adjust for a circus catch. With all the room next to the sideline, these will be layups with Rodgers.  

Lastly, this is something we will see a ton of in 2024. GW needs opportunities in the slot. The Jets should go empty or 2×2 and allow him to work the middle of the field on choice routes. His route savvy, along with his YAC ability, will create simple concepts that the Jets can use to take advantage of the defense no matter what look they’re in. Think back to how good Davante Adams and Rodgers were at these little choice routes against man or against zone where a LB would match the route. This is a must to maximize GW’s biggest strengths, and it was not called enough for him in 2023.

Doing this film study made me realize that Garrett’s potential is even higher than I thought it was. The number of missed opportunities for him last year goes far beyond the clips I showed. He was consistently open and inconsistently got the ball in those situations. With Rodgers back, the sky is truthfully the limit for Garrett in this offense in 2024. Sit back and enjoy, Jet fans.

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