It goes deeper than that

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The narrative this week is . . .

that the issue Zach Wilson had in Dallas was he wasn’t protected well.

And there is some truth to that.

The Jets did a poor job dealing with the Cowboys front, especially Micah Parsons.

They should have given left tackle Duane Brown more tight end help, and also, schematically, they needed a better plan to deal with Parsons on stunts.

Another narrative is that the Jets’ defense couldn’t get off the field on third down, so the Jets’ offense didn’t have the ball very much.

Dallas won the time of possession battle in this game by a resounding 42:15 to 17:45. Now some of that was short offensive series, but a lot of it was bad defense.

However, the poor protection and third down defense, doesn’t obscure the fact that it’s hard for the Jets to sustain drives with Wilson under center.

At the root of the problem is his completion percentage.

This year he’s at 54.2 percent and his career average is 55.1.

I know I’ve written this myriad times, but it bears repeating, what a former NFL QB once told me about completion percentage: “It’s hard to sustain drives with every other pass hitting the ground.”

So when you are in the 50’s, that is essentially what is happening.

Think about the Wilson we have seen over the last two-plus years.

He will have some really nice plays, and then that is followed by some not-so-nice plays, leading to drives stalling out.

This isn’t personal. I have nothing against the guy. I’m just making an observation about his play.

Just like Justin Fields in Chicago, who came from Ohio State where he was throwing to wide-open receivers, Wilson went from an offense at BYU where he had big windows to throw into, with the play-caller often dealing up wide-open first reads, to the NFL where that doesn’t happen as often. It happens sometimes like on the Garrett Wilson 68-yard TD against Dallas, but not often enough to consistently move the ball doing that.

You see that with Fields and Wilson. Every once in a while there is a big play in the passing game, where the first read is open, and you make hay, but not enough to consistently win games.

If Wilson turns it around, and starts showing the ability to go through his progressions, read defenses better and throw with more anticipation, I will praise him and say I’m wrong.

But right now, it’s hard to look forward and think this is going to work. Yes, you will win some games once in a while where you hit on a few big plays and the defense keeps the score down. No doubt. But to have a winning record with a QB who needs the OC to consistently dial up open first reads is hard to do.

So yes, the pass protection wasn’t great in Dallas and that didn’t help Wilson’s cause.

But what happened on this third pick, where he had plenty of time to throw, and threw over the head of RB Michael Carter on the short right side, right into the hands of a cornerback Trevon Diggs? That is what you saw too much last year. Bad mechanics leading to overthrows.

What happened in the preseason when he played in four games, and didn’t produce one TD drive?

You can’t will a player to be better than he by believing in him.

And it’s not a lack of effort.

But up to his point, he hasn’t show enough to think that he can lead the Jets to playoffs in Rodgers’ absence.

I would love to be proven wrong because I don’t like to root against people.

September 21, 2023

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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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