by Christian Mott
The 2021 New York Jets have been one of the most head scratching teams. They have so much positivity yet yield the same old results. With a first time head coach, offensive coordinator and Zach Wilson in his rookie year at quarterback, there’s plenty of growing they all need to take before the Jets can turn it around. They are coming off their much needed bye week. Robert Saleh and staff will have a massive test as they look to turn around this season. It’s time to take a look at three steps to help them achieve this.
1. Get the offense moving
First and foremost, the Jets offense looks even worse then it did last year. Currently, the Jets have the dead last scoring offense according to Pro Football Reference. A part of that is losing stud tackle Mekhi Becton early in the season. However, no facet of offense looks good early. The Jets have yet to score in a first quarter yet this season, something that Saleh and LaFleur desperately need to fix.
It all starts with one person: Zach WIlson. He’s been asked to do so much early with very little around him to help and is trying to play hero ball. While this feels like a broken record for Jets fans, this time the talent is improving. Zach has shown flashes, but his nine interceptions is tied for the most in the NFL. As Saleh and many others have pointed out, he needs to do better with the “boring throws”. It doesn’t help either that the Jets have seven drops on the year. That did clean up more in the Atlanta game. This issue is going to come down to execution. Can the Jets make up for lack of talent with good scheming?
2. Start Scoring Early
Building off getting their offense going, they need to get it going early and often. So far, they have had historically bad first quarters. They are similar to the 2020 Patriots, who did not score an offensive touchdown in the first quarter through their first seven games.
What causes their offense to seemingly not exist in the first quarter each week? The answer is a combination of things: inexperience and lack of scripted plays. One of the biggest complaints fans had during the dreaded years under Adam Gase was that the Jets looked lost outside his 15 to 20 scripted plays.
This time under Saleh it seems to be the opposite. One positive for the Jets this year has been their ability to make second half adjustments. The issue typically has been they are in a hole early. With that being said, LaFleur and Saleh need to sit down and script plays for each week. This will do two major things for the offense. It will help them relax and figure out the opposing defense, and it will take some of the pressure off of Wilson early in the game.
Early on in games, Wilson is either pressured or doesn’t have a grip on the defense initially. Running scripted plays will help him with this. One thing is for sure: Jets fans are tired of seeing zero in the scoreboard after one quarter.
One of the biggest offseason storylines was the joint practice with the Packers and the interactions between Zach Wilson and Aaron Rodgers. Wilson needs to learn from Rodgers and relax on the field. There’s times where he looks like Patrick Mahomes and other times where he can’t complete a check-down. These growing pains happen with any rookie. However, the patience is thin as ever in New York with a starving fanbase. After his four touchdown and nine interception start, the patience thins even further. After this past bye week, it’s crucial that Wilson pull back the reins and understands that hero ball doesn’t need to be played to win games. As Saleh said back in September, it’s ok to play a boring game of football.
The Jets are doing a proper rebuild. This time, they have given fans a reason to be patient. It’s hard to do with a franchise that hasn’t sniffed the playoffs since the Rex Ryan days. They have the youngest roster in the league with a new coaching staff. As much as fans would love to see more growth from the team, it will come with time and development of the roster.
Time will tell if the Jets make the adjustments needed to get this season back on track. Their next matchup is their second against the New England Patriots as they visit Foxborough.
Featured image courtesy JetsWire