Zach Wilson’s struggles continue as Jets listless in loss: How Patriots’ scheme worked

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson’s struggles continued against the New England Patriots on Sunday as the Jets lost 15-10. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Wilson finished the game with 157 yards on 18-of-36 passing with no touchdowns.
  • With less than three minutes to play, New York (1-2) got the ball back with a chance to tie or take the lead with a scoring drive. Instead, Wilson took a sack in his own end zone for a safety with 2:19 to play.
  • Since replacing Aaron Rodgers after New York’s first offense drive of the season, Wilson now has 438 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions this season.
  • The Patriots (1-2) outgained the Jets 358 yards to 171 and New England QB Mac Jones finished with 201 yards and a touchdown.

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

How New England’s scheme worked

Bill Belichick did Sunday what he always tries to do with his defense. His goal, per usual, was to take away a team’s strength. So in this game, that meant stopping the run. It didn’t matter that the Patriots had only played three snaps this season in their base defense — he primarily used it Sunday. It didn’t matter that the league is embracing schemes with two high safeties — he used one against the Jets.

It was all to stop the run and dare the Jets to try to win by leaning on Wilson. Belichick didn’t think the Jets could consistently move the ball if they had to rely on Wilson and their passing game on a rainy day. And he was right.

There’s a lot for the Patriots to clean up in a game that didn’t need to be so close. The offense was sloppy. The defense allowed a 13-play, 87-yard touchdown drive when it had a chance to ice the game. Even special teams were hit or miss with a bad punt and two missed field goals.

But those are a lot easier to address after the first win of the season. — Graff

Jets blew another one

The Jets have done their best to stand behind Wilson publicly and privately, mostly because they had no other choice. It will be difficult to take anyone seriously if they do that after Sunday’s game.

Wilson, as he was in two games against them last year, was mostly a disaster in his fifth game against the Jets rivals. Stop if you’ve heard this before: The Jets defense mostly did its job, holding New England to 15 points — but Wilson was unable to get anything going on offense. For most of the game, the Jets appeared scared to even call passing plays — which made it easy for the Patriots to diagnose that the Jets were running the ball. The Jets ran for 38 yards on 22 carries, while Wilson completed 17 of 33 passes for 128 yards and no touchdowns, excluding a final 29-yard completion to Garrett Wilson on one final pass before a Hail Mary attempt to end the game.

Worst of all: The Jets got the ball back with 1:43 remaining at their own 45-yard line, trailing by five points, and Wilson proceeded to throw three straight incompletions. His fourth pass was to Tyler Conklin, well short of the first down marker, and the Jets’ hopes of snapping their long-running skid against the Patriots ended. At this point, it would be malpractice if the Jets don’t sign a veteran quarterback to push for the starting job — or at least consider benching Wilson for backup Tim Boyle. The Jets likely would’ve won Sunday’s game with even average quarterback play. — Rosenblatt

Key stats

The No. 2 pick of the 2021 NFL Draft hasn’t finished a game with more touchdowns than interceptions since Nov. 6, 2022.

The Jets didn’t have a snap within the red zone until there were fewer than seven minutes left in regulation.

Required reading

(Photo: Robert Deutsch / USA Today)

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