At the midway point of 2022, things are going very well for the Jets. They are in the middle of the Playoff race in the AFC and even have a shot to make a run at the division title. The defense has been outstanding so far. Aside from a few hiccups, Brant Boyer’s special teams remain a strength.
The offense, however, has been up and down. Here are five things I am hoping to see over the final eight games of the regular season.
Development from Zach Wilson
This is probably an obvious choice. It goes without saying that Wilson’s performance is the most important subplot for the Jets this season.
To this point, Zach’s 2022 has been up and down. There was an excellent performance in his season debut against the Steelers as he led a 10 point fourth quarter comeback. There were games where the played smart and efficient football such as the divisional wins over the Dolphins and the Bills. Then there were some games where he really struggled like the wins over the Packers and Broncos and the loss to New England.
The second year quarterback remains a work in progress. I think he has a pretty good grasp of presnap reads. When he identifies what the defense is going to do, he has shown an ability to get the ball to the right player.
Postsnap reads are an issue as is the case with many a young quarterback. Zach tends to be correct with his presnap diagnoses, but it seems to me that when he is wrong, he has a tough time identifying it. This leads to some mistakes.
His biggest issue is dealing with pressure. Zach has shown a troubling tendency to abandon the pocket before he needs to do so. Frequently he turns his back to the play, eliminating his ability to see down the field and potentially deliver a throw. In the win over Buffalo, we saw him limit this habit which is a positive.
Fortunately the Jets have put a quality roster around their young quarterback (for once) so they have largely been able to benefit from the good moments and work around the bad moments.
Zach remains a very much unfinished product. I’m not expecting him to frequently carry the team on his back. Over the second half of the season my biggest goals for him are to get better moving to his second read when the defensive front isn’t what he expects postsnap and stand tall in the pocket. This will lead to more efficient performance and more victories.
Better health on the offensive line
I never promised you all of these things I hope to see are within the Jets’ control. Obviously the team can’t do much about injuries, particularly on the offensive line. That is an area on the field where bodies are flying, and it’s easy to get hurt just by taking a wrong step.
For the most part the Jets have had more good luck this season than bad. The schedule and slate of quarterbacks they faced has been nowhere near as tough as it looked when the schedule first came out. The team has also won most of its close games.
One area where the Jets have been unlucky is on the offensive line. It reaches the point of absurdity when five tackles spent time on Injured Reserve. Fortunately one of them is back, and others might follow soon. Hopefully George Fant can bring some stability to the right tackle position, and everybody else can stay healthy.
Consistency from Garrett Wilson
Like many talented rookies, Garrett Wilson has been up and down. It felt like he had his breakthrough performance in the Week 2 victory over the Browns. Then he went quiet for a few weeks.
It wasn’t entirely his fault. Breece Hall broke out, and the offense became based on the run game.
In the weeks since Hall’s injury, Wilson has reemerged as a possible go to guy on offense. He has had two straight strong games. I would go as far as to say the Jets would have lost to Buffalo without an excellent performance from the Ohio State rookie last week.
Perhaps part of it is due to Corey Davis’ injury forcing him to look elsewhere, but the last few weeks it seems like Zach Wilson has gained trust in the receiver with whom he shares a last name.
The best friend of a developing young quarterback is a number one receiver. It isn’t easy learning how to read defenses. When you can trust your favorite target to be open no matter what the defense throws at you, life becomes much simpler.
Maybe it isn't fair to ask this much of a rookie, but as currently constructed Garrett is the best option available to fill the go to guy role. Even though they play different positions, he might be the biggest replacement for Breece Hall as the go to guy on offense.
Elijah Moore taking on some sort of positive role
One of the things that made the Elijah Moore meltdown a few weeks back so surprising is that it just seemed to come out of nowhere.
Perhaps something had been building behind the scenes, but the second year receiver had gotten off to a solid start. Then after a big victory, things erupted.
I don’t see any way to defend Elijah Moore’s actions. They would be easier to understand in a typical Jets year where the team was losing and frustration was a natural emotion. Moore combusted after a key victory because of his lack of a role in the offense.
At this point I think it’s mostly on Moore to buy in. He has been a nonfactor on offense since returning from his hiatus. It’s difficult to say how much of this is simply his number not coming up and how much is him not buying into his role.
Maybe getting some time away during the bye will help him get his head on straight.
Something other than garbage time production from Jets tight ends
The Jets spent a ton of money on CJ Uzomah and Tyler Conklin this offseason trying to upgrade their passing game. What they have gotten for this money is a couple of important Conklin catches against Pittsburgh, a good Conklin game against New England, a ton of second half stat padding in blowouts, and a bunch of mistakes. C’mon guys. Get it together.