There are crossroads on the timeline of every NFL organization, and the Jets now find themselves at one of those crossroads with quarterback Zach Wilson.
There have been rumblings of quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson coming to the Jets. However, the more popular possibility is sticking with what they have in Wilson.
Nobody has more riding on the decision than Jets’ general manager Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh. If the Jets produce another dismal basement finish in 2022, one or both could very well get fired.
In previous articles, we have explored options outside of Wilson and today we will look at what team management needs to do to make Wilson successful.
This starts by looking at his game film at BYU, where Wilson was at his best when everything broke down and he needed to improvise on the move. It was so apparent, I even stated it in my pre-draft scouting report.
The Jets must have seen the same thing, which prompted them to hire Mike LaFleur as their offensive coordinator. LaFleur is innovative and he is the most creative play caller I have seen in the NFL, outside of new Giants’ head coach Brian Daboll.
That was an excellent hire for Wilson’s skill set.
In 2021, Wilson showed two consistent problems:
- He had a tendency to hold the ball too long before throwing.
- His ball placement at the short, intermediate and deep levels was all over the place. In other words, many of the passes he threw were too high, too low or not easily catchable.
Reserve QB Mike White showed a noticeably quicker release when playing.
If Jets’ management is going to push their chips up on Wilson in 2022, they are going to have to do three things, either through free agency and/or the draft.
- Acquire elite offensive line talent who excel in pass protection.
- Acquire a tight end and wide receivers with big catch radiuses
- Extend wide receiver Braxton Berrios.
With Jets’ 2020 first round left tackle Mekhi Becton possibly being done in New York, the Jets must find a franchise left tackle. There is only one I have put a first round grade on: Ikem Ekwonu (I currently have mocked to go to the Jets at No. 10 overall).
A free agent option would be Saints’ left tackle Terron Armstead, who comes with a $20 million per season price-tag, but he is an established and proven starter.
Washington’s right guard Brandon Scherff is another interesting possibility. Scherff, who is rock solid starter, would carry a $16-$17 million per year number.
With a reported $49.1 million available in cap space, there is definitely money to play with.
Outside of the offensive line, the Jets need to add targets who have a knack for being able to catch inaccurately thrown passes. New York also needs targets who excel at taking short passes and turning them into longer gains. Wilson is best at throwing short range passes, and tends to become less accurate the further he throws downfield.
Browns’ free-agent athletic tight-end David Njoku, who is expected to be valued at $12.5 million per year, excels at tacking on extra yardage after catches.
Falcons’ jack-of-all-trades Cordarrelle Patterson is built like a running back in a receiver’s body. Patterson is a terror in the open field with the ball in his hands after catches, and is expected to be at the $6 million per-year range. Patterson would also fit nicely into LaFleur’s bag-of-tricks scheme.
The two receivers in the draft who best fit Wilson are Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson (WR1) and Arkansas’ Treylon Burks (WR3). Wilson has an insane deep vertical and he is awesome picking up yardage after catching short passes. Burks is similar to Patterson because he can line up anywhere and catch just about anything at any route level. He is also a handful after making grabs.
They have to prove it by playing match-maker. They have to go out and bring in the kind of talent that best fits Wilson’s strengths and weaknesses.
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