Jets Experts Weigh in on Questionable Mike LaFleur Playcalling

Zach Wilson Jets

Getty New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson getting warmed up on the sideline of an NFL contest.

The New York Jets entered the 2021 season filled with new energy, hope for the future, and what seemed to be several winnable games at the outset of this campaign.

Yet suddenly Gang Green is backpedaling after another 0-2 start to the season.

Our pair of experts, Paul ‘Boy Green’ Esden Jr and Michael Obermuller, dove into the mailbag to answer the five hottest questions on the docket following the first two weeks of the NFL season.

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What Is and What Could Have Been


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1. After that horrendous performance by Zach Wilson what’s your confidence level that’ll he will turn things around sooner rather than later?

MO:

This one was tough to watch, especially with a crew of Boston friends sitting next to me at MetLife. The defense actually played well and made the stops which made things more frustrating when Zach Wilson would hand the ball back over and over.

I’m not abandoning all hope but the growing pains could take longer than anticipated. Week 1 was not on Wilson, Week 2 was. There will definitely be ups and downs.

Boy Green:

My confidence hasn’t wavered in Zach Wilson following that performance.

It was brutal, no question about it. I mean he had four freaking interceptions. The worst part was how everyone else played:

  • The defense looked fantastic (until they finally broke from being on the field too long).
  • Wow, the run game looked rejuvenated and made plays happen every time they touched it.
  • The offensive line apparently was destroyed by communication issues in Week 1 because in Week 2 they looked like a brand new unit.

If you take away those turnovers and I know a magic wand doesn’t exist that lets you do that, but those resulted in 16 points for the New England Patriots. This game was within grasp and that speaks to what this team can do in the future.

Wilson simply didn’t take the layups, his eyes got big with the thought of slam dunking it in spectacular fashion, and instead, he missed the hoop and face planted. When he goes back to the tale of the tape he’s going to kick himself because there were a lot of throws he wishes he could have back.

This is a marathon, not a sprint. He’s going to get better from this, that I have no doubt.

2. What is your reaction to Sam Darnold lighting it up for the Carolina Panthers, being 2-0, and looking fantastic in a new uniform?

MO:

I didn’t watch any of the Panthers’ game but it doesn’t mean much to me. I never really wanted Sam Darnold in the first place and I definitely didn’t want to keep him so I have no regrets about the way things turned out.

I do wish him the best in Carolina as a player but the decision to restart the quarterback clock and start fresh was the only decision that made sense at the time. Darnold had not shown enough to invest in long-term and let’s be honest, he wouldn’t be lighting it up for the Jets right now. He needed the change as much as anybody.

Boy Green:

Honestly? As expected. Darnold is in the midst of his fourth professional season and he was lifted up and dropped on a team that has a better supporting cast, improved coaching, and a new energy and belief.

Quite frankly the former USC stud should be lighting it up and I know this is an unpopular take apparently, but I’m happy he is. Darnold was always a good guy, it just didn’t work out here.

Now putting that aside for a moment, it was time to go.

This offseason the Jets revealed there was no plan in which they stuck with Sam Darnold and either traded back from No. 2 or took a different position like Kyle Pitts. Leading up to the Week 1 battle, head coach Robert Saleh said as much saying, “we knew pretty early in the process we were taking a quarterback.”

With that in mind, shipping him off and officially hitting the reset button was the correct choice for both sides.


Top Takeaways and Looking Forward


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3. Which player stood out to you the most in a positive way coming off of this painful loss to the New England Patriots?

MO:

Braxton Berrios, who continues to be a trusted weapon for Wilson. Everyone was wondering who might step up if Bill Belichick took away Corey Davis and nobody really expected it to be Berrios. He finished with 73 yards off 11 targets (seven receptions) with an average of 10.4 per catch.

I’ll also give an honorable mention to CJ Mosley. I’m not sure how he’ll grade out but watching him in person it felt like he was flying all over the field making tackles. Since he finished with seven solo tackles and 10 combined, I’d bet it was a massive improvement on his Week 1 struggles. The defense is so much stronger when Mosley is playing well at the heart of it.

Boy Green:

To be honest, several players stood out in a very positive way.

I concur on Mosley, he was flying around out there, and after all that time away he looks like a man renewed.

Although the player I’m going to point out is running back Michael Carter. In Week 1 the green and white couldn’t run the football for crap. It was an epic disaster.

Fast forward a week later the offensive line created great lanes and the young backs on the roster made plays.

He toted the rock 11 times for 59 yards and averaged over 5.4 yards per clip. Also, I have to give a shoutout to the other young buck Ty Johnson who also carried the ball 12 times for 50 yards and 4.2 yards per clip.

Thank goodness the Jets offensive coaching staff went to the younger running backs on the roster as opposed to going to Tevin Coleman (only five carries in this game) over and over again.

4. How would you rate Mike LaFleur’s performance as a first-time play-caller through the first 2 weeks of the 2021 season?

MO:

Incomplete. He’s had smart calls and then he has had ones that didn’t make as much sense. Overall, I wouldn’t blame Mike LaFleur for yesterday though. Were there moments that he should have let Wilson throw the ball? Probably, but Wilson was clearly off with his decision-making.

Although there were four sacks and seven quarterback hits in the box score, I did feel like the blocking was better than in Week 1. The Jets had success on the ground and Wilson seemed to have more time to throw. Part of that was due to creative scheming and play-calling.

Boy Green:

My prisoner of the moment mentality wants to go crazy on LaFleur’s decision-making inside the five-yard line. Although I’m not going to completely bury him, Wilson is the one ultimately throwing the pigskin.

I’ll give a 5 on the 1-10 scale, but there is a lot of season left.

He’s a first-time NFL play-caller and there are going to be trials and tribulations. Overall he wasn’t terrible but there were a few situational moments that left you scratching your head.

5. Looking ahead, what are your early expectations/thoughts for the Jets’ next matchup on the road vs the Denver Broncos?

MO:

I had the Broncos game pegged as a loss when I picked the schedule (had Jets beating Carolina but losing Week 2 and Week 3). I think their defense is legit and in Denver, it could be Wilson’s greatest challenge so far.

I see things the same as I did before though. The rookie QB must limit mistakes and win the turnover battle alongside his defense. If he can get the ball out fast and make smart decisions, he can upset some teams, but this league is never easy on first-year signal-callers.

Boy Green:

Oh boy. That was my first reaction to seeing the first two weeks of the Jets season and then looking ahead on the schedule to see the Denver Broncos coming up.

That defense is nasty and things aren’t going to get any easier for Wilson this week.

Denver is 2-0 and they have done some real damage to quarterbacks they have faced thus far:

  • Week 1, Daniel Jones of the New York Giants: 22-of-37 for 267 yards and was sacked twice.
  • Week 2, Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars: 14-of-33 for 118 yards with two interceptions.

The Broncos’ defense is overflowing with star talent and they’ll present a ton of issues for the Jets. My expectation is another tough day at the office for Wilson and this offense. With that in mind, I’m really looking forward to seeing how the former BYU stud performs.


Follow @BoyGreen25 @obermuller_nyj on Twitter for all the latest New York Jets breaking news, rumors, fresh takes and more!

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