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How Did Zach Wilson Do In Green Bay?

Let’s look at the tape.

NFL: New York Jets at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets’ game against the Green Bay Packers was a resounding triumph for the long suffering Jets and their incredible fans. Few teams have as many staunch supporters, especially considering how awful the last decade has been. This win will be remembered for a long time even though it is just a down payment on future greatness. I know the win at storied Lambeau Field was a confidence-builder for the team, but it was something more for the fans who have endured pain longer than any current Jet player. Cheers to you all.

With such a great win you would suspect that accolades would be given all around for the players. Yet many of the Jet fans very rather harsh of their young QB Zach Wilson. They expected more than what they got which was a stat line of 10 of 18 (56%) for 110 yards. He threw zero TDs and zero INTs. He ended with a single rushing yard plus was sacked twice.

Zach is still a young player. He had to be more nervous than ever since he was playing against his childhood hero in Aaron Rodgers. Zach and Rodgers developed a relationship during joint team workouts last year. They keep in touch with phone calls and text messages but didn’t correspond the week before this game against each other.

Before we take a look at the tape to see what just transpired, let’s look at some key factors

First the Jet receivers for the most part are a young group. It takes time, effort, and hard work to become a top flight receiver. Elijah Moore is in his 2nd year, Garrett Wilson is in his rookie season. They both have a ways to go to climb the ladder of top notch receivers in the NFL. Neither had the talent that Ja’Marr Chase or Justin Jefferson had coming out of college although they both have great potential. They can develop into great stars, but they have not ascended to that level yet.

As of now (after six games) the Packers have allowed the least passing yards in the NFL. They have a solid defense anchored by stud Jaire Alexander. His coverage PFF grade is in the top 15 just ahead of Sauce Gardner. Coming into the game I stated that for the Jets to win it would be on the back of Breece Hall as the Packers were allowing a nice 4.8 yards a rush prior to Sunday. That prediction came true.

So let’s look at 12 plays Zach Wilson made on Sunday and how those around him fared as well. We will be as unbiased as possible when talking about our young signal caller. Just so you know the results of the seven passing plays I didn’t include in this report were as follows.

  1. Six yard completion to RB Carter out of the backfield on a Snag concept play to the flat.
  2. Three yard pass completion to CJ Uzomah in the flat with Wilson nearly sacked.
  3. Seven yard pass to Breece Hall in the flat
  4. A throw away pass from the end zone to avoid a sack/safety
  5. Seven yard slant completion to Garrett Wilson who went down on his own after the catch 3 yards shy of a first down.
  6. Two yard completion to Breece Hall on a bubble screen to the right on 1st + 10
  7. A throw away pass to avoid a sack while being pursued by two defenders.

On this first clip Garrett Wilson shows his inexperience by not knowing where he is on the field. This is a third and one. It’s not a great distance, but he still has to press his defender upfield enough so he can come back to give Zach a chance at a first down.

This throw is made exactly where Zach needs to throw it, away from the defender to the outside shoulder of the receiver. It’s Garrett Wilson’s job to get enough yards for the first down. He ends up dropping the ball anyway because he uses poor technique to catch the ball (more on that later). He also uses poor technique on the release. He does the cha-cha but doesn’t challenge the defender at all. Garrett needs to learn some releases to get himself free off the line. This effort was rudimentary, and I’m being polite.

This is what I mean by working to become a great receiver. Garrett came from a dominant program who usually played against overmatched competition. He didn’t need to learn techniques on releases. Most defenders just played off him. This is the NFL. Other corners watching this will press him unmercifully until they think he can beat them off the press. Learning releases takes time along with hard work. Miles Austin (his receivers coach) needs to work with him after practice every chance he gets so Garrett can become proficient in at least a few releases. He needs other work, but that is coming later. The fail on this play lands in the lap of the receiver. He has to be better than this.

This next clip is the first play of the next series. Mike LaFleur has Zach using a short set (a five step drop) to give the line the ability to push defenders around Zach; there is much less area to protect than a normal seven step drop. The advantage to the seven step drop is it gives you more depth to find passing windows through the defensive line. The short set has to be a quick pass because the on rushing defenders have less distance to travel. If the interior line holds up well (they did) it give the QB a chance to find an quick competition.

The Jets had an open Corey Davis on the play, but DT Dean Lowery makes a nice play to jump up then bat away the pass. Lowery presses the pocket but doesn’t get much penetration. Wisely he keeps his head up, sees the short set, then jumps when he sees Zach start the throwing motion. Zach stays stoic in the pocket even as Kenny Clark breaks though the line. Sometimes you have to tip your hat to the defense when they make a play.

This next play the Jets are deep in their end of the field so they need a play to kickstart the offense. This is a 5 receiver set (4 WRs + 1 TE)so Zach has no protection. He can’t take a sack, or the Jets will be sitting on their goal line; the ball has to come out fast.

Garrett Wilson is the primary route as the Jets run their receivers off outside, Garrett is the only route breaking across the middle, he has the entire middle of the field to himself. He has to win on the route. He needs to get separation, but his release again is another dance step routine that does not shake Jaire Alexander. As he breaks in front of Zach there is a tiny window to fit the ball in. Zach hits that spot. Yet Garrett is trying to grab the ball in an effort to squeeze the catch against his body. This is awful catching technique.

Garrett has the defender on his back. He needs to slow his stride (if only for a second) then reach out with both hands to catch the ball then pull it into his body. Zach put the ball exactly where it had to be, but Garrett couldn’t pull it in. He needs extensive work on his release, route running and catching the ball.

If you want to see how to get a release this is Van Jefferson in college using what is called a “Diamond Release” to get open in the middle of the field. Each step is orchestrated and practiced ad nauseum until it becomes 2nd nature.

Van Jefferson is not as fast or as quick as Garrett Wilson, but he can get open because of technique. This ball is very late on delivery yet it’s still a TD. The reason Van Jefferson knows how to run this and many other releases is because his dad taught him them using hours of practice. Van Jefferson’s dad is Shawn Jefferson, a once great NFL receiver and one time Jets wide receiver coach under Adam Gase. I was hoping the Jets would retain Jefferson as the WR coach, but Robert Saleh had other plans. Garrett Wilson and even Elijah Moore could use a lot of help to get off the line so they can gain separation. Once you gain separation then all that abundant natural ability can be on display.

This next play Zach Wilson shows some of his own inexperience by not knowing where he is on the field. I realize that a QB has a thousand things to worry about during a play, but he needs to know a thousand and one things; that other thing is where the first down marker is so you effort is not in vain.

He also needs better vision to see where the openings are in the defense. If he to keep running to his left he would have gotten the first down by running out of bounds. It is always dangerous when a QB runs out of the pocket so getting out of bounds so he doesn’t have to slide would be prudent plus pick up the needed first down.

There was a holding call of the offensive line anyway so even if he had made the line to gain it would have come back. Still this is a lesson to learn. If you are going to take off, you have to know where you need to get to plus where is the safest place to end up.

This next play Zach tried to be Patrick Mahomes, he has that type of arm, but please don’t try this type of play again. These are highlight reel type plays when they work, but they only work 25% of the time. The other times they end up incomplete 25% of the times (like here). 50% of the time they are a disaster.

Zach shows some nice zip on the ball from an awkward angle and basically flying out of bounds. It would have been nice if some of the underneath receivers had worked back to him, getting open but the wise play here is to just chuck the ball out of bounds unless you have a sure uncovered receiver you can get the ball to. Zach hasn’t been acting crazy much with the ball this year, but he will make a bonehead play from time to time.

Zach of course wants the Jets to put TDs on the board, but he must also understand game situations. In a tied game with your defense playing well it would be best not to make a risky play and just settle for the lead late in the half with the field goal.

This next play is a nice play design with the outside slot receiver going in motion, the tailback running into the flat and having Berrios run a seven yard stick route to that side.

Berrios was the primary route on the play. It’s a quick seven yards that allows you to have the entire playbook to work with on a third and two 3rd down play. Zach has a hair late with the throw, but I am not sure how much more Berrios would have gotten. The defender (again Jaire Alexander) read the play well so he was right there to make the stop. At least Zach hit Berrios between the one and the zero.

This next play is Zach’s worst throw of the day as he threw backing up so the ball sailed inside towards the defender instead of leading the receiver. There was some room to fit in this pass, but Zach played a little loose in his technique with obvious results.

This play had to have been some type of mix up since you have Garrett running across the field but also had CJ Uzomah plus Cory Davis underneath the pattern. You never have three routes in the same line of the QB within ten yards of each other. You would like to isolate defenders, not bring them all to the same side of the field like some kind of party.

Still Zach played this very loose. He had time to set his feet then make an accurate throw but he didn’t. This led to the Packers getting the ball back after the missed field goal with great field position. It (along with some shaky penalties) allowed the Packers to come down to tie the score before halftime.

This next clip shows Jaire Alexander in tight man coverage with Garrett Wilson again. It again shows the lack of experience Garrett has in route running. This is just a poorly run route without an understanding how you need to beat your man coverage.

Alexander is playing tight man coverage. He never puts his hands on Garrett. He lets him go where he wants. Garrett has to learn that you want to make your defender flip his hips in the opposite direction that you eventually want to make your break into the clear. With Alexander playing directly over top, Garrett should release inside so Alexander flips his hips to the left to get in stride with Garrett. You need to make Alexander think you are looking to break open in the deep center of the field. Then you can break to the left to the outside so Alexander would have to flip his hips back the opposite way. This would give you separation from Alexander.

The way Garrett ran his route Alexander never had to change his angle of pursuit. He just was able to mirror Garrett very easily throughout the route. By jumping at the end of his route Alexander is able to push Garrett out of the way while he is in the air to nearly make the interception. This is pass interference, but it would never be called since both men are at the same spot fighting for the ball. Zach’s throw is on the money, but by jumping for no reason he allows Alexander to muscle him off the play. This was lucky to be incomplete.

On the nest play the Jets use two in breaking routes from the left side. Tyler Conklin is lined up inline so he cuts right to take the underneath coverage of the linebacker away from the outside. This is zone coverage so you don’t want a LB cutting under your outside quick dig route and make an interception. This play was nicely set up.

If Garrett Wilson wants to see how to run a route, he should watch Corey Davis on this play. This is a textbook dig route run with authority and purpose. Jaire Alexander is again in coverage, but is playing zone instead of tight man coverage. Alexander reads the play exceptionally well. He breaks towards the dig route as soon as Davis sticks his foot in the ground and cuts. He is able to do this because he is sitting on the short route with safety coverage over top should Davis cut again upfield and run by him.

Davis is much bigger and stronger than Garrett so he uses his size to keep Alexander from getting close to making a play on the ball. The ball is perfectly thrown out in front of Davis who uses his hands to catch the ball then quickly bring it in to his body to protect and keep control of the ball from the eventual collision that is about to occur.

It’s only an eleven yard play, but it was all done so well. Zach used his super quick release so that De’Vondre Campbell (the underneath defender) had no shot at affecting the pass. Davis executed every aspect of the play with expertise so the play was a success. That play seemed to spark the offense and the entire team; the Jets as a whole played much better after that single offensive play.

The following play was the 41 yard bomb to Cory Davis that put the Jets in position to score again. This time Davis was covered by Eric Stokes who has great speed but is raw as a defender in his second year from Georgia.

This is your basic out and up play which was also helped by the play action fake then roll out to that side. Zach still has some work to do to master the art of throwing a deep ball especially on the run. The throw is near effortless. It just rockets out of his hand, but it’s a little short which allows Stokes back into the play. What Zach did well was to lead Davis inside away from the boundary which took him away somewhat of the on charging Stokes.

Mike LaFleur was wise to call for the end around with Berrios on the next play for the 20 yard score. The defense head was still spinning from the deep pass so the Berrios play took them by complete surprise; it was a great call.

This next play was another great call by Mike LaFleur to keep the pressure on after the Jets had given up their two score lead to use a well designed, well executed screen pass to the tight end to get the Jets moving again. The last thing the Jets needed was to give the ball right back to Aaron Rodgers with a chance to tie the score.

Zach doesn’t do that much on the play except look down the center of the field while Uzomah feigned a block then went out to the flat. The ball was on target so that Uzomah could catch then run upfield right away. Nothing that fancy, just another well executed play on all parts by the Jets. You could feel the offense’s confidence right through the TV.

The last clip I have of Zach (which is the last pass Zach threw) is of another well run play by the offense. It’s basically the same play that the Jets ran when the pass was knocked down by Dean Lowery. It works a lot better when the offense is on a roll, and the defense doesn’t know what’s coming because they have given up a bunch of big plays.

So the Jets get some big plays. The defense thinks run so the Jets come back with a beauty to Tyler Conklin which keeps the defense guessing and the Jets moving down the field. Every aspect of the play was flawless, great blocking, nice play fake, perfect pass then Conklin doesn’t hesitate moving right upfield for a big gain to end the quarter.

With the defense starting to fatigue they start playing on their heels not knowing what to expect next. What they got was another nice call on an inside trap that resulted in this.

A lot of arm tackling attempts from a weary defense so Hall motors by them for the game clinching score. Leaving the Lambeau faithful in shock.


I had stated last week before the game that I was hoping Duane Brown would be back because it would make a huge difference to the offensive line. I did not expect this level of play and leadership from a guy who was signed after the training camp then was hurt and on IR for 4 games. Brown has made a huge difference. It’s the best tackle play the Jets have gotten in many years followed by a great job on the right side by AVT. The line looks so much more solid with Brown, Herbig, McGovern, Tomlinson and AVT. Remember they are still trying to get used to playing with each other, improvement should be coming in the following weeks. We still have Feeney, Remmers and Ogbuehi as backups who I hope never see the field.


It was a great win for the Jets, a possible franchise altering win that made the rest of the football word sit up and take notice. The Jets need to start a little faster, they should have a lot more confidence this week coming up in Denver.

Many were dismissive of Zach’s game in Green Bay saying he played badly. I showed you most of the passing plays of issue. He seemed to do just fine in my eyes. Was he great? no but he wasn’t mediocre either. He has only played two games this year. I think he is much improved from last year already and I expect more growth to come as he plays more.

The Jets need to work with their young receivers to get them to play with better technique, learn how to work DBs in their favor and just get open without needing to be schemed open. They have lots of talent but talent without technique in the NFL is middling at best.

Let’s hope they can get up to speed quickly.

That’s what I think

How ‘bout you