2. Zach Wilson's play handcuffs the NY Jets defense
Let's start debunking some of the myths now about why Zach Wilson may be struggling or at least ways that the rest of the team isn't helping. A puzzling one this year has been that the Jets' defense has not lived up to expectations.
Although, indeed, they haven't been as dominant as they were made out to be, they have been a super strong defense. So far, they have given up 16 points to the Bills, 30 to the Cowboys, and 13 to the Patriots.
That's less than 20 points per game. If we are being fair as well, the Cowboys scored nine points directly off of Jets turnovers without even getting a first down on the ensuing drives. Remove those nine points, and the Jets are doing a good job keeping teams from scoring.
If you want to be critical of the Jets' inability to register sacks or create turnovers the last two weeks, that's fine. It's true. The pass rush hasn't created nearly enough pressure, Will McDonald, the highly skilled rusher they just took in the first round, has barely played, the defense has dropped interceptions routinely, and they have allowed too many long drives.
That is all true.
But it's also very true that they are playing under enormous amounts of pressure to not make a single mistake, or else the game is over.
Look at this game against the Patriots. The defense played fantastic football all day long. They allowed the Patriots to move the ball but held them to 8-for-19 on third down and forced eight punts.
They gave the offense three possessions in the final five minutes of the game to score and take the lead. The offense ended up giving up points and managed to score exactly zero.
The Jets surrendered one big play, a 58-yard touchdown on busted coverage where a tight end slipped by safety Jordan Whitehead on a play-action pass. That was the only major mistake they made. They gave up only 13 points, and the Jets never really felt like they were in the game.
The defense is also on the field for an egregious amount of plays because the offense cannot move the ball at all. The Bills had 33 minutes of time of possession, the Cowboys had 42 minutes, and the Patriots had 32 minutes. You cannot win games like this when the defense is asked to do so much.
The most damning stat, though is this one; in the past two seasons, in games where Zach Wilson has started or played, if the Jets scored the league average of 23 points per game, they would be 15-3 in those 18 games. This defense is elite. The offense, led by Wilson, can just not score the ball.