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NFL Draft

Zach Wilson: Breaking Down What Went Wrong Vs Patriots

  • The Draft Network
  • September 19, 2021
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It was a day to forget for New York Jets rookie gun-slinger Zach Wilson. 

With as many interceptions as completions at one point during Sunday’s loss to the New England Patriots, the Jets have once again found themselves winless through two weeks with new looming questions surrounding their No. 2 overall selection.

It was downright ugly for Wilson, who entered Week 2 off of a two-touchdown, 258-yard Week 1 performance at Carolina. His day couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start, throwing a pick on his first attempt through the air. While it could have been avoided if Corey Davis kicked his route just a yard shallower, Wilson’s choice to deliver the pass into tight coverage with ball-hawking corner J.C. Jackson in coverage is just not smart quarterbacking, especially to begin his aerial attack.

On his very next pass attempt, Wilson once again looks for Davis and once again he’s picked off, this time on the run where his elite arm strength worked to his disadvantage… if we’re looking to nitpick. In this situation, unlike the first, Davis is open and needs to catch the football, but a high-sailing ball on the run spells danger, especially against a Bill Belichick-run unit.

The windows and often vacated pocket Wilson had at his advantage during his time at BYU are no longer afforded to him. His decision-making process of holding the ball or turning it loose into certain throwing windows through two weeks has left plenty to be desired. While his arm arrogance will allow him to fit tight throws in from 10 yards, 20 yards, and 50 yards downfield, forcing throws into lanes that simply aren’t there will continue to welcome turnovers—which in turn, will find Wilson holding a clipboard.

This is lazy from Wilson. Sitting on his back foot, a throw to the far boundary has to have pace and location. It’s a must. It was more of a display from Wilson showing he’s more of a thrower than a passer at the early portions of his career. There is a massive difference between the two, and a forced throw to the boundary already inside field goal range is a throw that cannot be made moving forward. Rather, I would like to see Wilson either throw it away and live to see another down here or tuck and run in an attempt to move the chains on third-and-short.

While his third pick was about as bad as it gets, Wilson’s fourth interception of the day makes you throw your hands up. The line does a nice job of keeping him clean as New England opted to rush just three, but on second-and-a-mile, take the check-down or tuck and run for seven or eight, and again, live to see another down. Playing hero ball won’t win ball games down 10 early in the second half.

As time goes on, Wilson’s ability to play check-down charlie, improving pre-snap, and taking what the defense gives him will allow him to rapidly progress as a quarterback. While it’s tough enough facing New England, facing the Patriots as a first-year signal-caller invites an entirely unique set of challenges.

It’s not the end of the world for Wilson, but with five interceptions through two games, he’s got to begin to show improvement in his decision-making and understand he’s not wearing Cougar blue and white anymore. With major tests ahead in the Denver Broncos and Tennessee Titans, it doesn’t get much easier for Wilson, who could quickly find himself in Robert Saleh and the New York media’s doghouse if his turnovers continue to pile up.

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