When the New York Jets first hired Robert Saleh this past offseason, it was viewed as a home run acquisition. Saleh was the top head coaching candidate on the market and was praised for the elite defensive culture he constructed with the San Francisco 49ers.
Having finally moved on from Adam Gase, Sam Darnold, and an overall failed era of Jets football, New York was aggressive in their pursuit of Saleh. They wanted to pair the best possible coach out there alongside a new franchise quarterback.
Through five games, things aren’t exactly going to plan.
The New York Jets are 1-4
While the Jets’ roster is still far from perfect, their current 1-4 record reflects just how poorly things are going at the moment. Both the offense and the defense are struggling, and it’s already causing people to question the hiring of Saleh and the drafting of Zach Wilson.
While it’s far too early to start making grand claims about the future of Saleh and Wilson, it’s worth acknowledging that this is not how the Jets front office envisioned things playing out this year. They hired Saleh under the belief that he was primed to be a great head coach. They drafted Wilson, believing he’s the answer at quarterback for the next decade-plus.
Yes, it’s early. However, we’ve yet to see much of anything positive from the Saleh/Wilson duo thus far, and it’s already causing Saleh to turn to excuse-making.
Robert Saleh compared Wilson to Bills QB Josh Allen
There’s plenty to dislike about the current state of the Jets. However, at the top is undoubtedly Wilson’s performance through five starts.
The former BYU quarterback has thrown a league-leading nine interceptions compared to just four touchdowns, and his quarterback rating (QBR) sits at an abysmal 23.9. Wilson hasn’t even come close to playing like a No. 2 overall pick yet, and it’s one of the leading reasons New York is 1-4 at the moment.
Fans and analysts alike are beginning to question Saleh and the Jets’ approach to developing Wilson.
As things currently stand, it’s hard to imagine Wilson growing and learning from chucking up interceptions once a week. Saleh, however, is staying the course.
He’s preaching patience with Wilson, claiming that MVP candidate Josh Allen also struggled through his first few NFL starts.
“Josh Allen, the first five games of his rookie year, the numbers were the same as [Zach Wilson’s],” said Saleh. “It’s going to start clicking.”
The New York Jets need to explore schematic changes
For starters, Allen’s numbers weren’t nearly as bad as Wilson’s through his first five career starts.
Allen threw five interceptions compared to five total touchdowns (two passing and three rushing). Compare that to Wilson’s nine interceptions, and it’s hard to find any similarities.
Secondly, using Allen’s ridiculous development over the past few seasons as a way to justify Wilson’s slow start is just a way for Saleh to divert blame. One of the biggest reasons Allen’s development experienced such a rapid ascension is due to great coaching. Saleh is directly in charge of making sure Wilson develops, and he’s doing a bad job of it.
Instead of comparing Wilson to other quarterbacks, maybe Saleh should start exploring new coaching tactics that put his struggling QB in a better position to succeed? Just a thought.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.