Jets' coordinator takes blame for Zach Wilson's fall -- can he fix the QB?

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A look at what's happening around the New York Jets:

1. Passer fail: Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur arrived at the interview podium with a hangdog look on his face.

"First of all, it stinks because I know what kind of competitor he is," he said of Zach Wilson and his demotion.

He's right, it does stink. For Wilson. For the franchise. And for LaFleur, who is tasked with the responsibility of developing Wilson into a successful quarterback. Wilson's struggles are LaFleur's struggles. It certainly raises questions about whether the 2021 No. 2 overall draft pick is receiving the proper direction from his coaches.

Wilson, LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Rob Calabrese arrived at the same time last year -- all rookies in their respective positions. Coach Greg Knapp was supposed to be the organization's quarterback sage, but he died from injuries suffered in an bicycle accident in July 2021. Veteran coach Matt Cavanaugh, not part of the Robert Saleh-LaFleur tree, came out of retirement to serve in a temporary role. Wilson's private throwing coach, John Beck, also was hired to lend a hand.

Now it's just LaFleur and Calabrese.

"I truly believe it starts with me and ends with me, so I’ve got to figure out a way to reset him, get him back to playing fundamentally sound football and, more importantly, just consistent football, because he’s done some really good things," LaFleur said of Wilson. "But I haven’t done a good enough job to get the consistency out of him. So that starts and ends with me."

Wilson's mechanics have deteriorated. Saleh admitted as much, saying that "some basic fundamental things have gotten really out of whack." Team staffers were concerned in the offseason when Wilson missed too many layup passes in practice -- still a problem, as we witnessed last Sunday.

Wide receiver Garrett Wilson also pointed the finger at the coaching staff after last week's game, saying, "It starts during the week in practice -- coaching, all of that. We have to be detailed. We all have to have a better plan. ... It's got to be better, the things we see and don't call out. It has to start getting called out. This is unacceptable."

It all comes back to LaFleur, who now has to be Mr. Fix It.

2. White's castle: Saleh made the right call by benching Wilson, but the decision comes with risk. He's entrusting a playoff-contending team to Mike White, who has played only 11 quarters of football in his career -- five of them very good, four bad and two so-so.

The organization hopes White can do two things: operate the offense the way it's drawn up and galvanize the entire team. Those are two areas in which Wilson struggled, prompting Saleh to make the move to White, who has gone from QB3 to QB2 to QB1 in a span of five games.

White made a comment this week that jumped out, saying, "If you start to play hero ball, I think that's when things can go wrong." Interesting choice of words. "Hero ball" is something that has been associated with Wilson. White's style of play suggests he won't fall into the trap. He throws fast and short.

Consider these numbers from 2021 and 2022:

White's average time before pass is 2.70 seconds, quicker than Flacco (2.72) and Wilson (3.04), whose average is the slowest among qualified quarterbacks over the past two seasons, per ESPN Stats & Information research. White doesn't go downtown too often. He averages only 5.96 air yards per attempt, second shortest among quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts.

In this offensive system, short isn't a bad thing because everything is based on timing and rhythm. With White under center, the offense averages 6.88 yards per dropback, better than Flacco (5.59) and Wilson (5.14).

White's issue is interceptions. He had eight in 132 attempts last season, a rate that won't get the Jets to the playoffs.

3. Too much down time: Because of injuries and the benching, Wilson has yet to start more than seven games in a row in his young career. It's tough to get a full evaluation on a player with so many stops and starts. That's one of the reasons why the Jets want to get him back on the field this season, but the plans could get pushed back if White wins. That would be a good problem to have in the short term, but it could complicate their decision-making in the offseason.

4. Merry-go-round: The Jets have started three quarterbacks in three of the past four seasons. (Where have you gone, Luke Falk?) That's what you call instability, yet it's interesting to note that the last starter before Wilson to get benched for performance was Ryan Fitzpatrick (twice in 2016) -- and that was after one of the best passing seasons in franchise history in 2015. Yeah, sounds about right.

5. The Hoodie hex: Mark Sanchez lifted the Jets to one of the team's biggest wins ever, upsetting the New England Patriots in the 2010 AFC divisional playoffs. Since then, Jets quarterbacks -- especially the young ones -- have been haunted by coach Bill Belichick.

Wilson was the latest victim, demoted after a horrible game against the Patriots. He's 0-4 against them, with two touchdown passes and seven interceptions.

Before him, it was Sam Darnold, who had the infamous "seeing ghosts" moment in 2019. He was 0-3 against Belichick, with one touchdown and six interceptions.

Sanchez, of course, had that unfortunate prime-time fumble in 2012 (the nickname escapes me), which essentially accelerated his demise with the Jets.

It has to end eventually, right?

6. Did you know? Wilson is 8-12 in his first 20 career starts; only Richard Todd (7-13) and Darnold (7-13) had worse records in their first 20 career starts for the Jets in the Super Bowl Era.

7. Moore on the way: It will be interesting to watch receiver Elijah Moore's production now that Wilson is out of the lineup. In his career, he has only 25 receptions from Wilson and 36 from White, Flacco and Josh Johnson even though he has played less with them.

Moore took the high road when asked about Wilson's benching, telling ESPN, "We support both of them. Stuff happens and emotions are everywhere. Zach is human -- he makes mistakes -- but we have his back like no other."

8. New York Sack Exchange 2.0? The pass rush is on fire, having recorded at least five sacks in three straight games -- the Jets' longest streak since the merger in 1970. The most impressive part of that? It's not one or two players -- it's a wave of pass-rushers; 12 players have at least a half-sack over that span.

Quinnen Williams leads the way with three, followed by John Franklin-Myers, Micheal Clemons, Carl Lawson and Bryce Huff with two apiece. You can question the philosophy behind nine- and 10-man rotations for the defensive line, but it's hard to argue with these results.

9. Green jacket to gold jacket? Darrelle Revis will take his rightful place in the Jets' Ring of Honor on Sunday. Is the Pro Football Hall of Fame next? The former All-Pro cornerback is one of 28 semifinalists. That will be cut to 15 next month (he's a lock), and then the five modern-era inductees will be determined on Jan. 17.

After talking to several members on the 49-person selection committee in recent weeks, the consensus is that Revis has a Hall-worthy résumé. There was some minor reservation on whether he will make it in his first year of eligibility, mainly because of a backlog of qualified candidates -- but the majority believe he will.

Four defensive players from 2019 to 2021 made it as first-timers -- Charles Woodson, Troy Polamalu, Champ Bailey and Ed Reed. All defensive backs. Barring an upset, Revis should join that group.

10. Expensive island: Revis is the highest-paid player in franchise history -- $97 million in earnings, according to Over The Cap. He was a good businessman in addition to being a great player.