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Zach Wilson: Taking What’s There

NFL: Miami Dolphins at New York Jets Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

An area of struggle for Zach Wilson during his rookie year was simply taking free yards provided by the defense. Playing quarterback in the NFL is difficult enough without turning down free yardage.

Of course part of gaining this yardage is identifying when it is available.

On this play with one safety deep and defenders aggressively aligned at the line of scrimmage across from all three wide receivers, Zach can make a presnap read and surmise the Dolphins are in man coverage.

Breece Hall is running a route to the flat. It stands to reason that the linebacker closest to him would be the defender covering him man to man. But based on his presnap positioning, he would have a very difficult time getting to Hall in the flat make a stop.

Sure enough this defender ends up in no position to handle Hall.

Some clever play design and awareness by Elijah Moore takes one Miami defender into the path of another, creating a pick that springs Hall.

Maybe this doesn’t turn into a 21 yard gain without the collision, but it was still a good presnap read by Zach identifying where the easy yardage was and taking it.

Earlier in the game the Jets had a similar situation. Miami was showing coverage with one safety deep.

Other than man coverage, this alignment could also signal a Cover 3.

With Elijah Moore running a deep route, the defender originally aligned in the flat is going to have to follow him leaving the area open for a Michael Carter route out of the backfield.

Carter turns this into a nice 6 yard gain on first down.

This is a more likely outcome than the Hall 21 yard gain sprung by two defenders colliding. Still, it is a nice gain on first down. There’s nothing wrong with taking a gain and staying ahead of the sticks.

Of course there is a balance any quarterback needs to strike. You wouldn’t want Zach Wilson to show a Flacco-esque desire to check down immediately on every pass.

But for a young quarterback who was frequently too aggressive last year, it is encouraging to see Wilson make things easier on himself and taking free yards.

And getting those free yards requires making the necessary presnap reads to realize they are free.