Is Zach Wilson a problem for the New York Jets right now? Absolutely he is.
A coach cannot stand in the pocket, read the defense, or throw the ball for a quarterback. Zach Wilson more than anybody is responsible for playing better.
What a coach can do is put his player in favorable situations. Nathaniel Hackett is not doing that for the Jets. He might have one of the shakiest starting quarterbacks in the league. That means it is critical for him to make things as easy as possible for Zach Wilson. Right now he is doing the opposite.
The first three quarters of the Week 3 loss to the New England Patriots saw the Jets play some of the most inept offensive football in recent memory. The Jets had four first downs and 79 yards of offense at the point the third quarter ended.
This is part was due to a lack of execution, but it also had to do with predictable play calling putting them behind the sticks. The Jets ran the ball on 10 of 13 first downs in the first three quarters. The 10 runs averaged 2.0 yards per attempt.
The Patriots were consistently stacking the box and limiting the amount the Jets could gain, leaving consistent second and long plays. Only twice in their ten rushing attempts did the Jets gain as many as 4 yards.
Because the Jets were behind the sticks, they were constantly facing third and long. Their average distance to go in the first three quarters was 8.6 yards. On seven of the ten, they needed to gain at least 6 to move the sticks. The offense thus became one dimensional.
For an offense that was clearly trying to avoid putting the ball in Zach Wilson’s hands for difficult throws, the play calling essentially guaranteed just that would happen.
It also is worth noting that on the one drive the Jets generated offense in the fourth quarter, the Jets threw on six of seven plays. Wilson was 5 of 6 for 49 yards on these throws. The only first down run call in that time was Nick Bawden’s one yard touchdown. The Patriots were playing the run on the early downs, which allowed Zach Wilson to make some easier throws and find a rhythm.
If the Jets were actually trying to avoid putting Zach Wilson into tough spots, you would think they would let him throw in favorable situations and try to avoid putting him into unfavorable situations.
Hackett’s play calling did just the opposite.