Jets’ fans seem to be star struck over quarterback (QB) Zach Wilson’s preseason dink and dunk show so far.
Granted, Wilson has come out looking better than I expected in terms of his stats, (15-20 through two games) but I also believe the stats are a bit misleading due to the conservative game-planning approach of the Jets’ coaching staff.
The safe and conservative approach will not amount to much of anything, in a division with three other teams that have strong potential to make the playoffs for the foreseeable future. So far this preseason I have not seen anything out of Wilson that remotely suggests he is any better than what they had in QB Sam Darnold – – and I have watched every one of his 20 throws. In fact, I believe Darnold is considerably better.
I will admit this “efficient” high percentage passing game is working to complete 74.4% of Wilson’s throwing attempts so far, which sounds really good in theory, but there are just too many short range dink and dunk passes. Jets’ coaches are keeping Wilson on a short leash.
I am not a defensive coordinator in the NFL, but even I know the secret to crushing the Jets this season is clamping down hard on their bread-and-butter short game. It will take NFL defenses about 60 seconds to figure out how to take that away from Wilson and force him to throw the ball downfield to beat them.
Back in the day, 49ers’ head coach Bill Walsh was able to revolutionize the league with the infamous West Coast Offense, which was a bunch of similar short range high percentage throws. However, QB Joe Montana was throwing these types of passes to guys like John Taylor and Jerry Rice, receivers who could turn a short five-yard into an explosive 80 yard-touchdown in the blink of an eye. That was the key to their system. That was the key to them winning so many championships. They had explosive play-makers catching the ball.
The Jets do not have anybody like that.
It also should be noted the defensive looks Wilson and the Jets are seeing right now in the preseason, are about as vanilla as ice cream. That will not be the case in the opener against Carolina. Wilson will see coverages and blitz packages he has never seen in his life against the soft schedule he played while at BYU.
Sure, it makes sense Jets’ coaches are trying to instill confidence in their first round pick, but they are not doing him any favors building false confidence either. I believe the Jets coaching staff is keeping things ultra safe in order to keep him from being exposed. I believe they have been doing that all along.
Bottom line, if Wilson cannot aggressively push the ball downfield accurately in the intermediate and especially the deep levels of the field, the Jets do not have a prayer. This has all just been one big waste of time and all it will amount to is another two years of payroll.
The thing with the high-percentage short game, is there is also a lot more of a mathematical chance for drives to bog down (dropped passes, penalties, sacks, etc) because it takes more plays to get the offense into scoring position. So, without the threat of aggressive explosive passing plays – there really is no threat at all.
Safe and conservative are very close relatives to losing in the National Football League.
Maybe the coaches at the Jets are trying to cover up for the fact that most of Wilson’s deep passes at BYU last season were nothing more than jump balls?
Daniel Kelly is a former NFL scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated Detroit Lions and he is a contributing evaluator for Draft Diamonds. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @danielkellybook and his Facebook page is WHATEVER IT TAKES NFL TALK.