Friday Night Whispers

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center David Andrews is out with a concussion.

This is a big loss for the Patriots and the Jets should be able to take advantage of the situation considering how well the interior of their defensive line is playing, led by Quinnen Williams and Sheldon Rankins.

Journeyman James Ferentz, the son of Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz, will make the start at center for New England. He’s a little undersized.

Keep an eye on the matchup of Williams and Ferentz . . .

Huge challenge for Zach Wilson this week facing Bill Belichick’s defense. Even if the Patriots’ defense isn’t the most talented this year, the schemes they play are a huge challenge for young quarterbacks. Remember when Sam Darnold said on the sideline during a Jets-Patriots game that he was “seeing ghosts” trying to dissect the New England defense.

“They just don’t give you space,” said Jets coach Robert Saleh. “Everything is very sticky. All the windows are very, very tight. When you watch their defenses, they take away space as good as anyone in football.”

And small windows can be challenging for young quarterbacks.

“When you come from college, me to you is covered,” Saleh said. “In the NFL, me to this thing right here (point to something close to him) is wide open. That’s an adjustment that is hard for quarterbacks to make to understand that little bit of space you got to be a quick decision maker and sling the ball and get rid of it.”

At BYU, during his outstanding junior season before entering the draft early, Zach Wilson was throwing into wide open windows against schools like North Alabama and Texas State.

The smaller windows in the NFL have created quite a challenge for him, along with defensive schemes that are much more complex than what Troy, Navy and Lousiana Tech.

Wilson didn’t seemed to trust his eyes last week in Denver against coordinator Ejiro Evero’s complex schemes.

This week doesn’t get any easier.

“[Zach Wilson] knows when to take his chances, when not to take his chances within a game, he’s getting more comfortable playing the game within the game,”said Mike LaFleur.

The game within the game obviously involves going through your progressions – first read, second read, third read, checkdown.

If throwing with anticipation, trusting guys when they make their cut, is taking chances, then maybe that is why he doesn’t do this more.

That wasn’t meant to be sarcastic, but more to the point that sometimes with young quarterbacks, they want to see guys wide open, and then throw a rocket, when it’s clear the player is open. But in the NFL, if you want to be a high level QB, you have to “throw guys open” and throw with anticipation. Sometimes this is scary to young quarterback, because they aren’t seeing a player wide open, and are concerned about throwing a pick.

Throwing guys open is kind of “taking chances”, because sometimes it’s like a jump ball with a WR and CB – that is why the call them “50-50 balls.”

Wilson doesn’t seem to like to do that.

“I’ve gotten on Saleh, but the one things he’s done during this four game winning streak, is ‘you know what Zach Wilson, your not going to beat me,'” said former NFL GM Mike Lombardi on VSIN.

Now that is hyperbole, but the idea that it’s a good thing that he’s not taking any chances, is a slippery slope. Moving forward, they are going to need more from their passing game, especially with Buffalo coming up twice on the schedule . . .

One reason the Patriots want to get Mac Jones back out there this week is that he showed twice last year he’s comfortable facing the Jets defensive scheme. The Patriots beat the Jets soundly twice last year with Jones under center.

But obviously one caveat is the Jets’ defensive personnel is much improved from last year.

October 28, 2022

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Dan Leberfeld
Dan Leberfeld
Publisher of Jets Confidential Magazine. Call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4) to subscribe. Co-host of Press Coverage every Saturday on SiriusXM NFL Radio from 11-2.

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