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Zach Wilson’s inability to read coverages could be his final, fatal flaw


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By Doug Farrar

It seems as if everyone’s talking about New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson, his awful performance against the New England Patriots on Sunday, and his refusal to take any sort of responsibility for his part in the loss.

When Wilson was asked whether he let the Jets’ defense down by completing nine of 22 passes for 77 yards, no touchdowns, and two dropped interceptions (yes, it could have been even worse), and he comply said, “No,” that was the End of All Things in Jetsland. As a quarterback, you can get away with being obnoxious if you’re great. And you can get away with being terrible if you’re s standup guy — there are scads of examples of both. But if you can’t hit water falling out of a boat, AND you’re ducking accountability like it’s an overload blitz? Your tenure in the NFL will be very short, indeed.

 

The Patriots defense, which has tortured Wilson this season in two Jets losses, didn’t seem to care about his performance at the podium, or any other behavioral aberrations. In New England’s 10-3 win, they were more grateful that Wilson did what he’s done all season — go into full head-explode mode when a defense shows him a different coverage look than he expects.

“We definitely know those pre-snap disguises are huge,” safety Kyle Dugger said. “We know that he’s going to take what he sees and have an idea what he’s going to do already in his head. So, we definitely made sure that we were disguising heavy so that post-snap, he would have to think a little more, take a little longer and our D-line can do what they do. So, definitely pre-snap disguise was big for us.”

It was in this game, and it has been all season, Per Pro Football Focus’ tracking, Wilson has seen some sort of safety disguise on 151 of his dropbacks this season. And under those circumstances, he’s completed 21 of 35 passes for 200 yards, one completion of 20 or more air yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions. He’s run 11 times, which is when he’s most confused by coverage switches, and he’s just trying to get through the play. He’s also taken six sacks, which tells you the same thing in a different way, and confirms Dugger’s scouting report.

Here’s the thing — when a divisional opponent you face at least two times a season, and might face again in the postseason, comes right out and says how they can make you vulnerable — and then they go right ahead and do it — that is an embarrassment for you as a player. Or, at least, it should be an embarrassment.

And in an NFL where quarterbacks are seeing more disguised coverages than ever before, Wilson’s issues with them this far into his career serve as yet another red flag. Not exactly optimal, but nothing about the Jets’ quarterback situation is these days.

The Week 11 sacks weren't about disguised coverage.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Dugger’s comments were that Wilson’s four sacks in this came were all out of standard, base, undisguised coverages. All four of those sacks came with different iterations of Cover-3, and in no instance was Wilson delayed in his process by something your average college quarterback couldn’t figure out.

The first sack, which came with 14:03 left in the third quarter, was more on Wilson taking too much time to make a decision. He had Denzel Mims open short outside to his left on a switch release with Elijah Moore, and he had running back Ty Johnson open to his right on a quick release route. Wilson was aiming to his left, perhaps waiting for Mims or Moore to break open on the switch — I don’t think he ever saw Johnson in this third-and-7 situation. Judon got through for the sack, but it took him a while, and Wilson had openings. He also had linebacker Mack Wilson spying him over the middle, which is an adjustment the Patriots made in the second half.

The problem Wilson had was that he didn’t have clearly open guys. The Patriots did a very nice job of plastering his receivers, so Wilson had to throw with timing, anticipation, and nuance. These are three things he’s not comfortable doing, to put it kindly.

Losing one's way in the weeds.

Wilson did throw an interception against the Patriots’ disguised coverage in Week 8. This was with 12:13 left in the game, New England up 19-10, and the Jets with third-and-7 at their own 46-yard line. Pre-snap, the Patriots showed a two-high shell, but at the snap, safety Adrian Phillips dropped down, and Wilson was dealing with Cover-1 Robber. Phillips was to take away receiver Jeff Smith’s crossing route, and that left Wilson with precious few options at his developmental level.

Basically, he barfed this pass into quadruple coverage with Patriots all over it, and deep safety Devon McCourty had one of the easiest picks he’ll ever experience in his impressive career. You can see tight end Tyler Conklin trying to run scramble rules across the field, but alas. Wilson had run out of options in his head, and that didn’t take too long.

Missing the simple things.

There are times with the Jets where coverage switches affect the entire offense, and even Day 1 install stuff goes awry. This was the case against the Buffalo Bills in Week 9. The Bills flipped from a two-high look to Cover-3, and safety Jaquan Johnson coming down to interrupt tight end C.J. Uzomah’s route upfield. Wilson checked way down, tried to hit receiver Khalil Shakir on a quick outlet pass out of orbit motion, and failed to make the connection.

Robert Saleh may have seen enough.

The Jets’ head coach is one of the more relentlessly positive people in the NFL, and he’s stuck with Wilson through all of this. But after his quarterback embarrassed himself on and off the field Sunday, Saleh for the first time indicated that a change may be afoot.

“Not right now,” Saleh said Monday, when asked if he would commit to Wilson as the starter when the Jets face the Chicago Bears on Sunday. “Not until I’m done evaluating everything.”

I’ve got to be able to sit back,” Saleh continued. “I think we all have to be able to sit back and just look at what’s best for this organization and this team. It’s not all about the quarterback. I want to be very, very clear. It’s not all about the quarterback. There’s a lot of things that we can do better as coaches. There’s a lot of things that the o-line needs to do better, receivers, running backs, tight ends, play caller. There’s defense, everybody, special teams. I get it where everyone looks at the quarterback and wants to throw everything on him. It’s not always about the quarterback, but there’s also an evaluation process to make sure that we’re doing what’s best for the organization, and that’s every position.

“That’s quarterback position, that’s receiver, that’s all of them, offense, defense, and special teams. Like I said, I’m a little behind and it’s just things that I’ve got to go through in my own process to make sure I catch up.”

When Saleh does catch up, he’ll undoubtedly see that he has a 6-4 team at the bottom of the AFC East with a top-tier defense that is wasted at the altar of their offense, and everyone’s getting tired of it. The trade deadline has passed, so there’s no real option outside of throwing Joe Flacco or Mike White out there and seeing how they do in Wilson’s stead.

In the offseason, the Jets will have the larger decision to make — whether to keep the guy they selected second overall with the second pick in the 2021 draft, or move along.

So far, Zach Wilson has made that decision far easier in a negative sense for himself.

 

 

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They don't have anyone else that can win a Super Bowl on the roster.

Just stick with him and force feed the development.  Force the "A Ha" moment or move on in the offseason. 

Regardless we need a vet in here next year that they can pivot to if he shows improvement this year, but regresses next. 

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1 hour ago, Saul Goodman said:

This offense doesn’t really require that. Make accurate passes, at the right time, to the correct receiver, and it functions perfectly. Zach’s problem is accuracy. 

There are things that lead up to inaccuracy and Zach has them all . It's time to state what Zach is and that's a bad QB that will never make it in the NFL. he's a BUST

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smh

#2 overall pick and this is where we are 

“We definitely know those pre-snap disguises are huge,” safety Kyle Dugger said. “We know that he’s going to take what he sees and have an idea what he’s going to do already in his head. So, we definitely made sure that we were disguising heavy so that post-snap, he would have to think a little more, take a little longer and our D-line can do what they do. So, definitely pre-snap disguise was big for us.

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17 minutes ago, Sonny Werblin said:

I disagree with the article. All of Wilson’s problems originate from his unwillingness to stand in the pocket and take a hit in order to deliver a ball to a receiver. 

If he was willing to take a hit, he’d consistently hang tough in the pocket, step up in the pocket, keep his feet right and keep his eyes downfield. Instead, because he is concerned about getting hit while standing defenseless in the pocket, he gets happy feet and takes his eyes off the field to look for pass rushers. I’d be curious if there is even 1 instance of Wilson ignoring the rush, standing in the pocket and taking a hit to deliver a pass in the NFL. I think if there is even 1, that the experience taught him that he never wanted it to happen again.

He stood in the pocket looking downfield and getting it out in 2.5 seconds or less (first time in his career, average I read was 3.5 seconds highest in the league, all the running backwards) vs Buffalo (albeit he was pretty well protected).  First time I’ve ever seen him play like that.  Lots of plant, step, throw and he was 75% Accurate.  I naturally thought the light had come on for him….big time…..and then New England, with 2 weeks to prepare.  I was totally shocked.

Now I want him benched.

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1 hour ago, Sonny Werblin said:

I disagree with the article. All of Wilson’s problems originate from his unwillingness to stand in the pocket and take a hit in order to deliver a ball to a receiver. 

If he was willing to take a hit, he’d consistently hang tough in the pocket, step up in the pocket, keep his feet right and keep his eyes downfield. Instead, because he is concerned about getting hit while standing defenseless in the pocket, he gets happy feet and takes his eyes off the field to look for pass rushers. I’d be curious if there is even 1 instance of Wilson ignoring the rush, standing in the pocket and taking a hit to deliver a pass in the NFL. I think if there is even 1, that the experience taught him that he never wanted it to happen again.

Unfortunately I think this is correct.

I think many of the clips show this is exactly what's going on.  

In fact, you see him go through his reads - see an open WR (so he's reading the defense just fine) but before he throws he looks down at the rush coming and then, instead of throwing, seems to pull it down if someone's coming through the line.  He just doesn't want to take the hit with his exposed body.

I'll also add - when he looks down at the line before he throws, for that split second,- and there isn't a rush coming - this is what's causing the inaccuracy and bad footwork.  It completely throws off all the timing. 

I'm not sure that can be taught - you're either built mentally to take that hit or you're not.  

 

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43 minutes ago, JoeWillieWhiteShoesHOF said:

He stood in the pocket looking downfield and getting it out in 2.5 seconds or less (first time in his career, average I read was 3.5 seconds highest in the league, all the running backwards) vs Buffalo (albeit he was pretty well protected).  First time I’ve ever seen him play like that.  Lots of plant, step, throw and he was 75% Accurate.  I naturally thought the light had come on for him….big time…..and then New England, with 2 weeks to prepare.  I was totally shocked.

Now I want him benched.

I think the difference in Buffalo was they were mostly quick three steps drops - and for the most part - GW was beating press coverage - so ZW was able to get the ball to his first read quickly, before fear of the rush getting to him.

Point is, I really don't think it's the ability to read defenses past his first option - but the willingness to stand in the pocket beyond the first read.  Keep eyes downfield and not worry about taking the hit.  I believe @Sonny Werblinis correct.

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1 hour ago, Sonny Werblin said:

I disagree with the article. All of Wilson’s problems originate from his unwillingness to stand in the pocket and take a hit in order to deliver a ball to a receiver. 

If he was willing to take a hit, he’d consistently hang tough in the pocket, step up in the pocket, keep his feet right and keep his eyes downfield. Instead, because he is concerned about getting hit while standing defenseless in the pocket, he gets happy feet and takes his eyes off the field to look for pass rushers. I’d be curious if there is even 1 instance of Wilson ignoring the rush, standing in the pocket and taking a hit to deliver a pass in the NFL. I think if there is even 1, that the experience taught him that he never wanted it to happen again.

That’s the most cerebral way I’ve seen anyone ever call someone a pussy! Nice Sonny, nice! 

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7 hours ago, Long Island Leprechaun said:

This analysis makes a good deal of sense. It matches well what we can see watching the game. Zach is frankly confused and it leads to either no decision (at which point he runs or takes a sack or throws it away) or a bad decision based on a misread. It's painful to watch.

A confused QB, with poor field vision, and poor accuracy. 

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Nothing wrong with a QB that can run, example Josh Allen because not only can he stand in there and deliver, but he has the ability to escape or even on designed runs. The difference with Wilson, is that he has not learned to trust his OL, and deliver a strike. He has proven that he has laser arm talent on some of the slants he throws, but after his first read is finished, he's not pulling the trigger fast enough to hit 2nd or 3rd reads. Not sure how to teach that, but you either have that ability or you don't. I think the worst part is he was never asked to do that in college because he was always in shotgun for most of his snaps. He also hasn't done the fundamentals very well, like stepping up, setting his feet and delivering the ball accurately, which wasn't a problem of his in college. Why he has regressed is mind boggling to most of us.

I think he will get most of the games going forward this year because there has to be a serious discussion whether he is the QB of the future for this team. I have to believe even though he's a JD pick, that JD is smart enough to know when to cut bait if he doesn't see improvement. Neither him or Saleh should risk their careers if this kid doesn't get it after 2 years. Next year has to be a proven VET to compete for the job. And again, JD needs to draft a QB every year until we find one that is worthy. Do not offer this kid his option if he can't win the job in year 3.

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52 minutes ago, Barton said:

Wilson had no business starting as a rookie. And I could argue he should still be sitting.

Jets really screwed up his development. 

This. They put him in before he was ready and is drowning. This year he missed a large portion of the preseason which has really set him back. 

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12 hours ago, Saul Goodman said:

This offense doesn’t really require that. Make accurate passes, at the right time, to the correct receiver, and it functions perfectly. Zach’s problem is accuracy. 

What offense doesn't require that?  I can agree that accuracy might be a bigger problem, but I think the point is that they decide pre-snap who the correct receiver is and Zach is ******* that up because he is befuddled by the disguise.

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Just now, #27TheDominator said:

What offense doesn't require that?  I can agree that accuracy might be a bigger problem, but I think the point is that they decide pre-snap who the correct receiver is and Zach is ******* that up because he is befuddled by the disguise.

Also, I would like to point that when I can state that my quarterback is "befuddled" with no irony the problems run deep.  Very deep.

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1 hour ago, CanadienJetsFan said:

Blessed to have so many QB gurus/ analysts/ whisperers on this site!

Logical fallacy, but let's roll with it. Your snarky comment indicates anyone who criticizes Number 2 is ignorant. Ok, so..

This thread is still available for you to comment.

Please, don't be shy. We are all aware of your superior intelligent assessment compared to us. Now show us all that you know more than Kurt Warner.  

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1 hour ago, Sonny Werblin said:

I disagree with the article. All of Wilson’s problems originate from his unwillingness to stand in the pocket and take a hit in order to deliver a ball to a receiver. 

If he was willing to take a hit, he’d consistently hang tough in the pocket, step up in the pocket, keep his feet right and keep his eyes. Instead, because he is concerned about getting hit while standing defenseless in the pocket, he gets happy feet and takes his eyes off the field to look for pass rushers. I’d be curious if there is even 1 instance of Wilson ignoring the rush, standing in the pocket and taking a hit to deliver a pass in the NFL. I think if there is even 1, that the experience taught him that he never wanted it to happen again.

It's likely both. Even if he stepped up in the pocket, Wilson was struggling to let the ball go. He was indecisive over and over again and I would surmise part of that was the fear of making a mistake. Once an athlete goes into defensive mode, all their fluidity and snap decision making ability goes out the window. Instinct is lost and the head takes over. 

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1 hour ago, Barton said:

Wilson had no business starting as a rookie. And I could argue he should still be sitting.

Jets really screwed up his development. 

They didnt screw up his development. The Jets finally put supporting pieces around a rookie qb for the first time in forever. Let's call a spade a spade, and drop the excuses, he just wasnt the guy to begin with. Hell they hid him most of the season and whenever they pulled off the covers he sh*t the bed. 

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3 minutes ago, SuicidalSince98 said:

No QB has ever handled this pressure 

Are you high? Zack has not suffered through an extreme amount of pressure more than any other QB leading to him being the worst in the league. This is the NFL and he has had plenty of time to make MANY of those throws that even you cannot deny he should have made. He had made an art out of the skill of backpedaling. 

Lets just stop with the excuses. 

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57 minutes ago, Coquito said:

Logical fallacy, but let's roll with it. Your snarky comment indicates anyone who criticizes Number 2 is ignorant. Ok, so..

This thread is still available for you to comment.

Please, don't be shy. We are all aware of your superior intelligent assessment compared to us. Now show us all that you know more than Kurt Warner.  

It's thanksgiving. I feel blessed!

you keep on guruing!

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