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Some Thoughts About The Jets Heading Into The Bye

Get ready for the stretch run

NFL: Buffalo Bills at New York Jets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets are on their bye week so they get a chance to rest up. So far the season has gone better than many expected. The win against Buffalo purged some of the bad taste many had after the loss to New England. Let’s hope the Jets get some payback when they travel to New England after the bye week. Good teams avenge poor outings against teams in their division.

Before that let’s take a look at where the Jets have shined and where they have underperformed.

Where have the Jets succeeded?

Offensive line

I know the line hasn’t been stellar all year. I see when Zach Wilson needs to run for his life. Still you have to be impressed how a makeshift bunch of players thrown together midseason have allowed the offense to move the ball. The Jets have 4 offensive linemen on IRincluding 3 starters.

Duane Brown, Cedric Ogbuehi, Nate Herbig are all starters who weren’t even on the team at the start of May. The Jets are 16th in rushing yards and 12th in passing yards in the NFL even with Breece Hall missing the last two games and most of the Broncos game. He was averaging 5.8 yards a carry when he went down with 4 TDs. The Jets had 387 yards of offense in a loss to New England and 310 yards of offense including 174 yards rushing against the Bills averaging 5.1 yards a carry.

Garrett Wilson

Garrett Wilson is showing his potential with an improved ability to gain separation along with a burgeoning relationship with Zach Wilson. After a horrific game against the Packers (a game the Jets won 27-10) where Garrett was eaten alive by Jaire Alexander, he has rebounded well. In that Green Bay game he had a single reception for 8 yards on 5 targets while often looking overmatched against Alexander.

Since then Garrett has turned his season around with better separation which turned into better results. Against the Broncos, Patriots and Bills (all very good defensive teams) Garrett had 18 receptions on 20 targets for 231 yards with 9 first downs. He is not the big time game changer yet but he becoming a viable chain mover for an offense still finding its way. Eventually you will expect to see those huge splash plays, but until then he is making the offense move. The more he gets in synch with Zach the better the Jets will be.

Offensive Scheme

The Jets are middle of the pack in scoring TDs (15th) and tied for 8th in FGs made but given the circumstances it is a credit to the system being run by Mike LaFleur.

They have a 2nd year QB who missed 3 games plus the entire preseason except for a few plays due to injury. They have suffered injuries all over the offense along with the Elijah Moore situation. It is amazing the Jets are as prolific an offense as they are.

Jets Defense

The Jets have come light years from where they were defensively in 2021. The Jets last year were 32nd (last) in points allowed, yards, rushing attempts and 1st downs allowed. They were in the bottom half at least in every defensive category (mostly near the bottom) except passing attempts against, but that was because teams were so far ahead they didn’t need to pass the ball for the most part

This year the Jets are 12th in points allowed and 11th in yards. They are 5th in yards per play, 4th in yards per rush and pass, 6th in QB sacks, and 2nd in INTs. They are also tied for 7th with 8 forced fumbles.

Quinnen Williams is having an All Pro type season, DJ Reed is looking like a free agent steal, and Sauce Gardner is in consideration for Defensive Rookie of the Year. The defensive line rotation is paying huge dividends as they consistently bottle up the running game along with providing great pressure on the QB.

Special Teams

The special teams have been a mixed bag. The Jets seem to get a shanked punt each game. Still they rate near the middle of the pack with an average of 47.6 yards per punt. Good hang time combined with great coverage have the Jets ranked 6th in net punting at 42.5 yards a punt with 13 inside the 20. They have also blocked a punt for a TD. Add to that a 1st down on a fake punt they made.

The Jets are a perfect 7 for 7 on kicks inside 40 yards. They have a long field goal of 57 yards which is tied for 7th in the league.

So where do the Jets need improvement?

Zach Wilson

Wilson needs more reps in this offense. I have full confidence he will learn to be an NFL QB. If you look at Wilson compared to Josh Allen through 19 games in their careers they are nearly identical. Allen broke through in his 3rd year.

The problem is that fans see all the talking heads on TV who criticize Wilson and think he is not going to make it. You have Dan Orlovsky calling out Wilson on TV; Dan Orlovsky was 25 years old when he played 10 games in his 2nd season in the NFL. He had Hall of Fame WR Calvin Johnson to throw to. Johnson that year had 78 receptions for 1,331 yards and 12 TDs. Orlovsky famously ran out of the end zone while escaping a pass rush (for a safety) and had a QBR under 40 after his 2nd season. Plus the team went 0-10 under Orlovsky on their way to 0-16 that year. Don’t listen to Dan Orlovsky.

4 things that Zach Wilson needs or need to improve on this year.

First he needs to understand the offense better. He needs to automatically know where his quick outlets are on every play so he can get rid of the ball effectively if he gets quick pressure on the drop back. There are a myriad of passing concepts that allow a QB easy reads so he can know where he is going with the ball right away. Still every time he drops back to pass he needs to know where his options are in the flat or hook routes. Tom Brady is an old pro who knows who he is throwing the ball to before the ball is snapped. He can read the defense then understand where his best options are.

Second he needs to be better at moving defenses with his eyes. One way to get a receiver open is to move the safeties or linebackers with a concentrated look. Mike LaFleur’s offense has all types of misdirection elements infused in it already. If Wilson can move a linebacker with his eyes he will open up the tight end over the middle along with the WR running a skinny post. This is a intelligent way to open up a window to throw, especially on crossing routes. The problem here is that Wilson has had little time to sit in the pocket and move people with his eyes. He has been getting rushed too frequently right after the snap.

Third he needs to understand where pressure is coming from and how the defense is vulnerable because of it. If he can see the blitz coming off the edge he can throw to that side to take advantage of the lack of defenders there. This goes hand in hand with his young receivers/RB understanding the same thing. If the blitz is coming, receivers need to understand how and where to cut their routes off to give Wilson a window to throw through. This all takes practice along with game experience.

Fourth he needs to be more proficient when he escapes the pocket into the open on scrambles. He keeps his head up which is good, but he needs to put more pressure on the defenders. Instead of simply working to the outside then waiting for someone to come open Zach needs to press the line of scrimmage. By doing so he makes defenders make a choice by either coming up to stop his scramble or maintain their coverage. It also keeps the players pursuing him away form him. This way he can either run for some yards or throw to an uncovered receiver. In any event when Zach escapes outside away from the rush, it is huge opportunity for a solid play. When he runs out of bounds he should stick the ball as far out in front of himself to gain a couple of extra yards. Also he needs to run more to get a few first downs a game. He just needs to learn to slide or get out of bounds without taking a hit.

3rd down efficiency

The Jets rank 28th in 3rd down efficiency which stands at 33.6%. One of the best ways to have a great 3rd down conversion rate is to have great success on early downs. The Bills have to best 3rd down conversion rate at 52.2%, but they also have the faced least amount of 3rd downs in the league at 92. Kansas City (50%), Cincinnati (49.6%), Philadelphia (45.9%) and Seattle (45.8%) round out the top 5 conversion rates. They are also some of the most prolific offenses in the league.

The Jets have faced the 2nd most 3rd downs in the league (125) trailing only the Buccaneers by 3 attempts. The defense is getting the ball back with great efficiency but the Jets are doing little with all those possessions.

The “Mosh Pit”

In the same theme as the 3rd down conversion rate; the Jets need to develop a “Mosh Pit” type of third down and one scheme. Not until recently you were never allowed to push a runner from behind to gain extra yards. It was considered leverage, a play that could injury players. But now it’s a tactic used quite frequently by teams to get a first down.

Basically you beak the huddle sending Zach Wilson out wide. You use James Robinson or Ty Johnson as the QB with Tyler Conklin and CJ Uzomah as split backs one yard behind Robinson at QB. You have Garrett Wilson and Corey Davis as wideouts with Zach Wilson in the slot. At the snap Robinson goes directly ahead in a QB sneak with both Uzomah and Conklin pushing him from behind. This almost always (95% of the time) produces a first down.

Now you need to practice this to make sure you don’t fumble or mess up the timing. This keeps Wilson from getting injured plus if you get very proficient at it you could eventually fake the run and hit one of the outside receivers on a quick slant. With all the defenders trying to stop the run you could hit a splash play for a TD.

This would definitely help out the 3rd down percentage since many times a 3rd and 1 play is stopped for a loss with linemen making penetration into the backfield.

These are but a few ideas to make the team better in the short run.

The Jets need to hit the ground running after the bye with them getting some retribution on the Patriots in Foxborough. The Jets are undefeated on the road so let’s keep that streak going for another game at least.