After an encouraging win against Tennessee, the New York Jets came crashing down to earth in London. While the Jets kept the game close, only losing 27-20, the team was hampered by the same inconsistencies and mistakes that have been consistent throughout their first five games.
Zach Wilson played better in the second half, but had another late throw that resulted in an interception and had some egregious misses on short and intermediate passes. Wilson missed badly on two consecutive screens, one to Jamison Crowder and one to Tevin Coleman, that would have both resulted in large gains.
Mike LaFluer, who has called better games as of late, had some lackluster decisions as well in the game. The Jets offensive coordinator did not dial up many rhythm-based throws for Wilson in the first half. In addition, he opted to use Ryan Griffen in more situations than explosive receivers Elijah Moore and Denzel Mims.
This combination of struggles from a rookie quarterback and coordinator has resulted in the worst first half offense in the entire NFL. The team has been outscored 75-13 in the first half of games, only able to muster 79 yards total across the first halves of their first five games. Both the quarterback and the coordinator deserve a share of the blame, and must accept the responsibility of turning this around.
Robert Saleh admitted that the team’s execution early in games has “got to be better” after the bye week. “I was just talking to the team about that. I’m going to work my tail off over this bye week and see if there’s something that we can come up with. Study the type. Look at all the decisions and execution and figure out what the answer is over this next week,” said Saleh.
As for the inexplicable accuracy issues Saleh said his young quarterback needs to rely on his “fundamentals” when throwing short passes. “It’s trusting it when bullets are flying. It’s very easy to stand at the driving range and hit 300-yard drives. It’s can you do it when you’re on the tee box and there’s water to your left and sand to your right and that’s just something that he’s got to work on…It comes back to eye placement , progression, footwork, everything we’ve been talking about over the last couple weeks,” said Saleh.
Wilson added to the sentiment, saying that “the way we’re starting” is the main reason for the offense’s struggles. “I would say it’s a block that we’ve got to get over. It’s like we started the first game or two with a bad first half, and that kind of hit the same trend and we have got to get out of that trend of starting bad,” said Wilson.
While the struggles are serious for this Jets offense, the bye week should be a tremendous help for a rookie the three rookies, Saleh, Wilson, and LaFleur.. The trio have only experienced a minimal amount of games together as a unit. This will be the first extended break from game action for the team since the preseason, and will allow the offensive staff to help Wilson hone in on the small details within his game. He needs time to slow down his internal clock and work on completing the easy passes, and not play at a rapid fire pace. In addition, the bye will allow Saleh and LaFleur to reevaluate their personnel usage. They need to make a concerted effort to get their playmakers, such as Elijah Moore, manufactured touches on a consistent basis.
This new Jets offense has only played five total games with each other, and needs to have the time to develop as a unit. Wilson and LaFleur are still young and inexperienced, and will have their fair share of ups and downs the rest of the year after the bye week. Optimism should still surround this offense for the foreseeable future, as the potential for both the quarterback and the coordinator still exists. But, there are real issues that need to be corrected for this team. How this team performs coming out of the bye week will go a long way towards determining the rest of the season.
If the changes are made to help the team start quicker, then the offense has a true chance to realize its potential down the stretch. But if the team chooses to be stubborn in adjusting its offensive strategy, it could be a very bad back half of the season for the Jets.