On Sunday, November 28th, the New York Jets will see the return of 2021 second overall pick, quarterback Zach Wilson. To date, the 2021 second overall pick has not lived up to his lofty expectations. Injuries and subpar performances from the offense hurt the Jets early on this season. However, since Wilson’s injury, New York has taken liftoff.
Since the Jets blowout loss to the New England Patriots, the Jets have had the best offensive in the entire NFL. The run game has finally delivered on its committee approach, albeit rookie running back Michael Carter is now out 2-3 weeks. Nevertheless, the play of their receivers, especially Elijah Moore, and the offensive line should help Wilson improve. So, what are the keys to making Wilson takeoff? Let’s take a look…
New York Jets Need Team Effort to Back Zach Wilson
Block, Block, Block
At the end of the day, no rookie quarterback is going to be able to produce unless they have a strong offensive line in front of them. Take a look at Mac Jones, who has the Patriots competing with the Buffalo Bills for the AFC East title. In 11 games, Jones has only been sacked 22 times, with pressure on just 19% of dropbacks. Compared to Wilson through six games, Jones is living his best life as a rookie signal-caller. In 2021, Wilson has been sacked 19 times, facing pressure on 30.7% of his dropbacks. These are numbers that would keep any offensive coordinator up at night.
Yet, Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur will have a chance to turn things around. The offense has produced with the likes of Mike White, Josh Johnson, and Joe Flacco running it. Should the Jets be able to protect Wilson, he can too.
On the year, the Jets tackles have held strong in the passing game. The same goes for center Connor McGovern, who has had a fantastic bounce-back season after a horrid first half of the 2020 season. Guard will be the key for Wilson to have time to throw. First-round pick and left guard Alijah Vera-Tucker has improved as a pass blocker, although run blocking remains his strength. Meanwhile, at right guard, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was not the answer to Greg Van Roten’s struggles Sunday. In fact, the Jets latest addition graded out worse than Van Roten as a pass blocker according to Pro Football Focus. Until one of them can step up as a pass blocker, Wilson is not going to have the proper time to go through his progressions.
Keep the Run Game Moving
No, the Jets do not have a surfier RB1. Fourth-round pick Michael Carter was the closest thing to one, and he is out for the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, the Jets need to replace his 70+ yards from scrimmage per game. Luckily, New York recently got veteran Tevin Coleman back from injury, as he and Ty Johnson will handle the bulk of the load.
Neither running back has had the success as Carter in 2021 but brings their own skills to the table. Coleman is a bigger back, while Johnson brings explosiveness to the backfield. As good as both may be able to perform as runners and receivers, the truth is Carter is the Jets best blocking back. Who knows, maybe New York finally gives La’Mical Perine a few more touches. The former 2020 fourth-round pick has only seen seven offensive snaps and could get his shot with Carter out.
Feed the Playmakers
It goes without saying that a team should get the ball to their best playmakers. Then again, this seems like something the Jets fail to do in losses. Elijah Moore is coming off the best performance of his young career, having totaled 141 receiving yards and a touchdown on eight receptions last week. The 34th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft has flashed the ability to be the number one receiver the Jets have been desperately searching for. Therefore, there should be no reason not to build chemistry between Wilson and Moore over the final weeks of the season.
The same can be said about Wilson and Corey Davis, who has been on and off the field hurt. If healthy, Davis is the Jets most proven receiver, capable of providing a go-to option. Should Davis be back healthy opposite of a flaming hot Moore, Wilson has a promising tandem at receiver to throw to.
Additionally, the Jets can factor Denzel Mims, Jamison Crowder, Keelan Cole, and Braxton Berrios all into the receiver rotation. As previously mentioned, blocking will be key for Zach Wilson to be successful in the passing game. After all, with having the Jets deepest receiving corps in recent memory around him, it is time for the second overall pick to finish his rookie season strong.
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