Robert Saleh: It's 'lazy' to blame Jets' offensive struggles solely on Zach Wilson

Amid and after the New York Jets’ dreadful showing on Monday evening, the fallout expectedly landed on quarterback Zach Wilson.

Though Wilson was certainly struggling mightily, the offense as a whole — from a porous offensive line to a punchless running attack to wide receivers who had issues catching the ball — was terrible.

It added up to a touchdown-less night and a 27-6 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.

Head coach Robert Saleh admitted Wilson could’ve been better, but was quick to underscore that putting all the blame on his quarterback’s shoulder pads was an apathetic exercise.

“There’s some good, some bad that he can build off of,” Saleh said Tuesday of Wilson, via team transcript. “Some things he still needs to get rid of whether it’s understanding when enough is enough. Understanding what defenses are giving you and just being a little bit quicker and saying no to things, if you will. I thought overall he was distributing the ball and like I said we were moving it at times, always presence in the pocket for every quarterback in football can always be a little bit better, but like I said, he could be a lot better. It’s lazy to just put it all on him. I think like I said, it was a very, it was collective all the way across the board.”

Just as Saleh tabbed putting all the blame upon Wilson as lazy, he was adamant he wasn’t going to take the easy way out by making a QB change to backup Tim Boyle or Trevor Siemian, or replacing offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett as play-caller.

“It is the easy thing to do,” Saleh said of replacing Wilson. “He’s the most, him and the play caller are the two most visible things. So, when things aren’t good, it’s easy to blame them, right? It’s easy to blame the people who are most visible to the camera, but it’s important to keep the main thing the main thing, watch the tape. Look at the breakdowns whether it was on the offensive line at an execution standpoint, play-call standpoint. There’s a bunch of different reasons and obviously they also get paid. So, they did a lot of really good things too, but if it was just him, it would be something that would be worth discussing, but this is a collective issue that we all need to get on the same page with. Whether it’s dropped balls, players being where they’re supposed to be, executing the way we need to execute, calling plays that need to be called, putting players in the positions they need to be put into that’s all of us and yes, he has a lot of things that he needs to improve on and I know he understands that, but at the same time, this is collective.”

Though statistics don’t tell a wholly accurate tale, Wilson’s numbers were better than his counterpart, Justin Herbert, even if you subtract what he did in garbage time late in the game.

Wilson was 33 of 49 for 263 yards, averaging 5.4 yards per attempt, with no touchdowns, no interceptions, an 80.6 rating and a 17.9 QBR.

Herbert was 16 of 30 for 136 yards, averaging 4.5 yards per attempt, with no touchdowns, no interceptions, a 65.4 rating and a 41.1 QBR.

Wilson was sacked eight times — including a few times in which he scrambled backward and made them worse — and fumbled three times with two lost. The Jets had four fumbles in total, with three lost.

Herbert was sacked five times and fumbled once, but it was recovered by the Chargers. In total, the Chargers had three fumbles, but none were lost.

Herbert’s Chargers offense, and Wilson’s Jets O each began the game with three-and-outs. However, rookie game-breaker Derius Davis took the Jets’ first punt 87 yards for a lead the Bolts would never relinquish.

It set the tone for the Chargers’ win and the Jets’ demise.

Each team’s offensive line parodied a turnstile throughout much of the game, but Herbert clearly handled the relentless pressure better than Wilson.

Still, the Jets offense was an all-around mess en route to 270 net yards, a 3.5-yards-per-play average and an awful 3-of-17 on third downs.

Wide receiver Allen Lazard had a key drop and multiple penalties. Dynamic running back Breece Hall had 16 carries for just 50 yards, and free-agent acquisition Dalvin Cook continues to be a bust, having tallied just a pair of carries for seven yards. In Tuesday’s presser, Saleh wasn’t asked a question about any of them.

“As you watch the game, as you go through it, a lot of good things, but a lot of inconsistency,” Saleh said. “Especially from an execution standpoint in penalties, drop balls. It was just sloppy and then obviously, you always look at it inward from a coaching staff standpoint and what we could’ve done better to put our guys in a better position. Schematically, I’ll obviously keep that one in house, but there’s enough blame to go around to everybody.”

Nonetheless, Wilson’s in the crosshairs, rightly, wrongly, or somewhere in between.

One inarguable fact is the Jets are 30th in the NFL in points score and 31st in total yards. Bolstered by a stellar defense, New York is aiming for average on offense and coming up woefully short. Without a shakeup at QB with Wilson or at play caller with Hackett, Saleh is choosing to go with inspirational sentiment rather than tangible adjustment.

“It seems like insanity,” Saleh said, “but when you are backed in a corner you have to keep swinging, you have to keep trying to find ways to get better, you have to find ways to be more efficient.”

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