What is the Jets’ forecast without Zach Wilson? Their offense looked rough in the opener
Last week, Jets coach Robert Saleh said Wilson won’t be available until Week 4 against Pittsburgh at the earliest
How did the New York Jets do in Week 1 without starting quarterback Zach Wilson?
Their single-digit total in the scoring category is a strong indicator.
Last Wednesday, Jets coach Robert Saleh said Wilson, who’s recovering from a bone bruise and meniscus tear in his right knee, won’t be available until Week 4 at the earliest, when New York plays the Pittsburgh Steelers on Oct. 2.
In the interim, veteran quarterback Joe Flacco is filling in. On Sunday, the Jets struggled in a season-opening 24-9 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. New York didn’t reach the end zone until the final minute.
“Yeah, I think you could tell how frustrating it was out there,” Flacco told reporters after the loss, per the team website. “Especially early on, just the way we started it in the first half. We never got into any rhythm or into any momentum. We’d have a play, get across midfield, then stall out.”
What led to the struggles for Joe Flacco and the Jets offense in Week 1?
Just looking at the box score, there were some nice individual statistics — Flacco threw for 307 yards and completed 62.7% of his passes, while tossing a touchdown and an interception.
Running back Michael Carter had a 6.0 per-carry average while rushing for 60 yards, and wide receiver Corey Davis had six receptions for 77 yards.
Beyond those surface-level numbers, though, there’s a different story that illustrates why the Jets had trouble scoring points.
While Flacco had a good overall line, his 5.2 yards per attempt average was second-lowest in the league during Week 1, with Monday night’s Denver-Seattle game still to go.
It took Flacco 59 pass attempts, and 37 completions, to reach 307 passing yards, and he had a QB rating of 74.6, among the bottom five QB ratings in the NFL in Week 1. The 59 passing attempts is the most in a game for a Jets quarterback in 11 seasons, per the team website.
While New York had just two three-and-outs in the game — as well as another drive end after three plays when Flacco threw his lone interception — the Jets never covered more than 50 yards on a drive until the fourth quarter, when the outcome was well in hand.
Ultimately, while New York had some nice plays, it struggled to finish drives. The Jets failed to convert their first eight third-down attempts, and finished the game converting 2 of 14.
On those first eight third-down attempts, the Jets faced a third-and-5 or longer all but twice. Flacco completed 3 of 8 passes on those third-down attempts.
On the Jets’ final drive of the first half, Flacco hit Tyler Conklin with a 6-yard pass on a third-and-5, only for Conklin to fumble the ball at the Baltimore 21. While the Jets recovered at the Baltimore 28, it forced a field goal attempt instead of extending the drive.
Early in the fourth, rookie running back Breece Hall lost a fumble inside the Baltimore 20 after the Jets had driven 75 yards.
On the team’s next drive, New York turned it over on downs after Flacco threw incompletions inside the Ravens 10 on third and fourth down, including a surefire touchdown that Carter dropped at the goal line.
“Obviously, we all agree it’s never good enough, especially when you’re not scoring points,” Saleh told reporters Sunday. “But we were moving the ball. It always comes down to one or two plays to get momentum going. There were plays when we weren’t helping Joe, and there were plays when he wasn’t helping either.”
What’s the timeline for Zach Wilson’s return?
Over the next two weeks, New York will play at Cleveland, then at home against Cincinnati.
Those precede the Jets’ Week 4 game at Pittsburgh, the only date mentioned as part of any timeline of when Wilson could return.
Saleh said last week he’s “always going to leave that door open” for Wilson to possibly return sooner, while adding, “but we are going to make sure both mind and body are 110%, (that) we do right by him. Talking to doctors and everyone, it’s going to be that Pittsburgh week.”
For Wilson, who was hurt in the team’s preseason opener nearly a month ago, this is his second knee injury that’s forcing him to miss time since he entered the NFL as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 draft.
“It’s frustrating, of course. You want to be healthy as much as possible,” Wilson said, per The New York Post. “When the injury happened, I was pissed at myself, preseason game and all that kind of stuff. You’ve got to be able to stay healthy.”