Zach Wilson needs Joe Douglas to get Jets more playmakers

The Zach Wilson Evaluation has been the only real interesting thing left in the Jets season for several weeks now. 

Is he the answer? 

Did the Jets make a mistake taking him No. 2? 

Can he be the guy the Jets have been waiting for since Namath? 

There are questions Jets fans are anxious to get answers to. But here’s one big problem — who Wilson is playing with at the moment. On Sunday, the Jets were missing their top three wide receivers and it is hard to get a read on Wilson when he is throwing to Jeff Smith and D.J. Montgomery. Backups have become starters and players are not getting open for Wilson and they’re dropping passes, making the evaluation of Wilson a tricky one. 

The Jets must give Zach Wilson more playmakers this offseason, like possible free agents Davante Adams (top left) and Mike Gesicki (bottom right) or Alabama’s Jameson Williams in the draft.
Charles Wenzelberg, USA TODAY Sports, AP, Getty

Things would be better with Corey Davis, Elijah Moore and Jamison Crowder in the lineup — Moore and Crowder could return this week — but it has become clear Joe Douglas needs to keep adding playmakers around Wilson this offseason. 

It is easy to say Douglas’ offseason needs to be all about fixing the defense. That will be the top priority for the Jets in free agency and the draft, but Douglas also needs to get Wilson more help. Douglas did a good job drafting Moore and running back Michael Carter, and Davis was a nice free-agent addition who does not cripple their salary cap situation. But Wilson needs more. 

Ideally, Douglas could add another top receiver and a top tight end in free agency or the draft to help Wilson next season. Douglas — armed with some $50 million in cap space, which could easily grow to $60 million with a few roster cuts, and four picks in the first two rounds — has so many holes to fill this offseason, but finding help for Wilson has to remain near the top of his list. 

Jets coach Robert Saleh said it is not just about finding playmakers for Wilson but about improving the team overall to help him. 

“It’s a global thing,” Saleh said. “It’s not necessarily receivers, tight ends. It’s not just one group. It’s a whole team standpoint in terms of getting guys back healthy, continuing to develop these young guys and then, obviously, you get the draft and whatever. To continue to add and build and solidify the pieces around and see if we can get guys making plays. It’s more holistic in terms of defense, run games, playmakers. It’s everyone. We do have a lot of those. They’re just not playing for us right now.” 

In Sunday’s win over the Jaguars, Wilson threw for only 102 yards, but it was clear the Jets were going to lean on their run game. They rushed for 273 yards, the most any team in the NFL has rushed for this season. That led to fewer opportunities for Wilson, who contributed more with his legs (91 rushing yards) than his arm. 

Zach Wilson had more yards rushing (102) than passing (91) against the Jaguars.
Zach Wilson had more yards rushing (102) than passing (91) against the Jaguars.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

It is impossible to predict who will hit free agency because teams can re-sign players before it begins in March or use the franchise tag on them. But some of the top receivers scheduled to hit free agency include the Packers’ Davante Adams, the Bears’ Allen Robinson and the Chargers’ Mike Williams. At tight end, the Dolphins’ Mike Gesicki, the Cowboys’ Dalton Schultz and the Cardinals Zach Ertz could be available. The draft has a number of good receivers, headlined by Jameson Williams of Alabama, Arkansas’ Treylon Burks and Ohio State’s duo of Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. 

The Jets appear to have hit on Moore and Carter this year. They would be the first playmakers the Jets have found in the draft in ages. Now, Douglas has to keep it going. 

Saleh said despite Wilson not putting up big numbers on Sunday, he was impressive. Saleh pointed to a third-and-9 pass to Berrios in the fourth quarter as Wilson’s best this season. 

“He made some remarkable throws [Sunday],” Saleh said. “I know we’re not going to flash out the gaudy passing numbers, but that third-down throw that he had to Berrios, I’ll argue with [offensive coordinator Mike] LaFleur that that is probably the best throw he’s made all season in terms of tempo. He had a six-man pressure in his face, ripped the ball knowing that he was going to get hit, put it exactly where Berrios needed to catch it to protect himself from the safety. It was awesome. It was a clutch throw, clutch catch on a critical down to keep the chains moving.”