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Zach Wilson and the art of “just playing” Volume 2

NFL: Houston Texans at New York Jets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday we went through Zach Wilson’s performance on the first Jets touchdown drive of the second half in their win against the Houston Texans. Now let’s move on to the second drive.

After a screen play failed, the Jets faced a second and long. On the play the Jets flexed Breece Hall out wide, and he’s provided with a big cushion.

The Texans are in zone coverage, and the other Jets receivers are cutting up the field, which will hold the defenders back as Breece runs an underneath route.

Wilson gears up to throw Breece the ball. Then he double clutches.

It seems like Max Mitchell missing his block leads Wilson to pull this throw down.

It’s difficult to know exactly what Zach saw from the angles we got, but it does appear this defender got into his line of sight.

It becomes a scramble drill as Zach leaves the pocket.

Jeremy Ruckert comes back to the ball near the sideline.

Wilson puts the ball to the inside, and Ruckert makes a nice catch.

To be honest, I wouldn’t mind Wilson just throwing this one away and living to fight another day. The reward isn't very big, and we have seen him make game-altering errors in the past by not throwing it away in situations like that. This was his day, however, and the Jets got a positive play out of it.

After a penalty, the Jets faced a third down play. The Texans aren’t really hiding their intentions. It’s man coverage across the board, and the one deep safety is playing over the top of Garrett Wilson. The Texans are taking away the Jets’ top option on this key play.

Zach Wilson needs to go elsewhere on this play. In one of the recurring themes of the season, no receiver is capable of producing separation. Zach has to make it happen himself he takes a shot to a covered Tyler Conklin.

We can talk about play calling all we want, and I do think it’s fair to say Nathaniel Hackett called one of his best games against the Texans. Still, a lot of this just comes down to the quarterback making it happen. This play is an example. Nobody is open. Somehow Zach puts this ball into a spot that finds Conklin, and he does a nice job coming down with it. This throw requires a confidence we haven’t seen in Zach Wilson much outside of the Kansas City game. He was feeling it, and the Jets moved the chains.

Next we have the one blemish on this drive. The Jets go to play action.

He has Garrett Wilson open at the top of his route but doesn’t let it rip.

There might be a good reason. The play fake wasn’t particularly effective, and the second level defenders were able to get decent depth. I think one defender might have been in the passing lane, which might have made it difficult for Zach to pull the trigger.

Zach throws it away and lives to fight another day.

On our next play Zach moves Allen Lazard in motion presnap.

Lazard’s motion leads Houston to rotate its safeties to account for the reconfigured Jets formation.

The safety rotation left Garrett Wilson alone on the left side of the field one on one with a cornerback. There is also a big cushion and a short route for Garrett, which makes it an easy completion. The progression is on the right side of the field, where there are three receivers. But the completion to Garrett is too easy to pass up so he takes it.

Nice presnap read. Nice work.

On the next play Zach starts by looking for Breece quickly out of the backfield. Sometimes a back can get quick leverage on a defender for an easy gain but not here.

Zach progresses to Xavier Gipson who is running a crossing route. As we discussed yesterday, sometimes these crossing routes allow you to get a receiver matched up against a linebacker, which is clearly favorable for the offense.

While that happens here, Zach isn’t throwing the ball to Gipson. Instead, Gipson slyly runs into the linebacker, which leaves Garrett Wilson running across the field uncovered.

This becomes an easy throw and a nice gain.

Gipson’s reward would come next as he got a handoff he took into the end zone.