Can NY Jets QB Zach Wilson finally achieve redemption in Week 14?

Zach Wilson has a chance to make sure he is never a healthy scratch again
NY Jets, Zach Wilson
NY Jets, Zach Wilson / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

The situation to every reader of The Jet Press is very well-known — NY Jets quarterback Zach Wilson is returning to the field after being benched yet again, and now he should have another chip on his shoulder.

The problem is that we’ve already seen this song and dance a few times, and it has never resulted in the ‘revenge game’ that Jets fans hype themselves up to believe is possible when these opportunities arise.

The closest Wilson came to an exception was last year’s game against the Detroit Lions, where he had the best half of his career. I discussed that half when explaining why it was outrageous to bench Wilson for Tim Boyle, and now this half of football is the film that Robert Saleh should be forcing Nathaniel Hackett to watch on repeat.

Even in the Kansas City Chiefs game with those nice stats, that was more a result of unexpected play calling than the actual plays themselves. Last year’s offensive coordinator, Mike LaFleur, had truly taken the training wheels off in that half against the Lions.

He had Wilson rolling out to both his left and right and taking deep shots down the field to a variety of weapons. He drew up plays to C.J. Uzomah, Garrett Wilson, and Jeff Smith, so the defense wasn’t able to keep up with the scheme, the personnel, or the execution.

Interestingly enough, Hackett drew up a lot of these types of plays for Boyle this past week against Atlanta’s talented defense. Garrett Wilson was open a bunch of times as a result, but Boyle preferred the underneath looks instead, and the offense continued this infamous run of ineptitude.

I was amazed watching Hackett call plays that required a human statue like Boyle to run and throw inaccurate balls to wide-open receivers simply because he can’t throw on the run.

Yet with Wilson, he was dialing up plays that kept Wilson in the pocket where he has zero presence or internal clock, so he was constantly holding the ball for too long and losing fumbles. It’s almost as if Hackett is trying his best to make both QBs look as uncomfortable as possible.

Zach Wilson has been better for the NY Jets in 2023

All this week, we’ve seen Wilson talk about comfort, fun, and seriousness. It should be inarguable that 2023 Zach Wilson is a better football player than the 2021-2022 versions, but all of the stats say the 2023 version is still very poor.

Will the intangible factors of desire and will to succeed cause a career game against a team that seems to play up and down to every opponent they’ve faced since Week 4?

Is this the game that Zach Wilson finally scores three touchdowns in a game? He still hasn’t done this despite 32 games. C.J. Stroud was able to throw five touchdowns in exactly a quarter of the time (eight games). Maybe Wilson is aware of this and wants to prove that Stroud isn’t the only second-overall pick who can ball.

No matter what, the clearest factor is that Nathaniel Hackett has the greatest non-Zach Wilson effect on how Zach Wilson will play. If he calls the game like he did for Boyle last week and gets Wilson moving, I believe Wilson is a good enough thrower, and the skill position players are good enough route-runners to create some explosive chunk plays.

Another byproduct of that is having Wilson potentially run for first downs — which he does scarcely but was beginning to pick it up before getting benched.

The 69 yards he had in the last two games combined is more than any other two consecutive games combined. Even if you extend it to three other consecutive games, no span surpasses the 69 yards he accumulated in these last two.

So the plan should be simple: Get him rolling and scheme up the speedsters to have momentum down the field. If that’s done (and isn’t abandoned if Wilson throws a pick!), we could see his first 300-yard of the season (Stroud has already had six) or the first three-touchdown game of his career.