The New York Jets won in Houston but as many fans pointed out, Zach Wilson did not play very well.
While this is true, it’s easy to overlook the small improvements that the rookie made. The decisions to throw a ball away when the receiver isn’t open, the attempt to flip to a playmaker rather than run the ball himself, the quicker release time on passing snaps, and so much more.
You can also take into account that his knee didn’t look 100% and playmakers like Corey Davis, Michael Carter, Denzel Mims and Tyler Kroft were missing on offense. You could, but the purpose of this article isn’t to make excuses and Wilson was harder on himself than anyone after the game.
The purpose is to focus on what the quarterback learned, and one Q&A answer from Robert Saleh accidentally revealed that Wilson’s best play of the game came off an improvised pre-snap read.
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Saleh Spills the Beans
During his press conference on Monday, November 29, Coach Saleh was asked what he thought of Wilson’s game-winning touchdown run.
He laughed, then stated: “Well it shows he’s [got] no limitations, but his ability to move off schedule and that’s some of the stuff that — just [that] improvisation or whatever the heck the word is — but the ball was actually designed to go to the running back in that he didn’t have an option to run… As he was handing it off he saw that the Texans had a fully loaded box so he pulled it and made something happen… it was pretty cool.”
Jets Twitter immediately ran wild with this information. Team reporter Eric Allen wrote: “Robert Saleh says QB Zach Wilson improvised on his rush TD. The ball was designed to go to the RB, but he saw the loaded box and kept it. Vet move from the rookie.”
ESPN’s Rich Cimini tweeted: “Saleh praises Wilson’s toughness, noting that he wanted to play BUF and MIA games. Wilson’s TD run was improv, not a read option. Was supposed to hand it to RB, but saw [the] loaded box and pulled it and ran.”
Robby Sabo of Jets X-Factor also chimed in: “Per Saleh on the Zach Wilson game-winning TD in Houston: He didn’t have an option to run, so it wasn’t your father’s traditional read-option. Instead, Wilson pulled it and took off (with a little improvisation).”
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‘Vet Move’ Leads the Jets to Victory
If not for this question, the decision from Wilson probably would have never reached the public. At times, the rookie has been criticized for his ability to read a defense but a wise last-second audible may have won the Jets the game in Week 12.
Sure, you could argue that a first-year QB should stick to the play-call on a gimpy knee but you don’t want to limit Wilson’s natural ability either. To be a great quarterback in the NFL, you have to be able to blend intelligence with feel and skill. Add in some grit and the Jets signal-caller displayed all of these traits in this crucial moment.
Playmakers make plays, and that’s exactly what Wilson did in the clutch. This score gave the Jets an 18-14 lead and the Green & White never looked back.
The BYU product got off to another slow start but his completion percentage and poise took a positive jump in the second half. Saleh spoke on the rookie’s perseverance.
“I love that he’s hard on himself… his desire to get better is up there with anybody, I mean he works his tail off at it, but at the same time [us] coaches are also hard on ourselves and it’s our job to help him get better and do everything we can for him. So, was it his best game? No. Did he get comfortable as the game went on? Absolutely. He orchestrated two 13-play drives that led to scores [where] we were able to lap them — scored before the half, scored after the half — and another eight-plus play drive,” the Jets HC stated, adding, “he did enough to win the football game and that’s what’s most important.”