MIAMI — It’s all in the eyes for Zach Wilson.
Wilson’s eye placement, more specifically, has been a topic of conversation around the Jets this week, and it will have to be better Sunday against the Dolphins.
Coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur both detailed how Wilson’s eye placement caused him to make throws before his feet were set, leading to inaccurate passes last week against the Saints.
Wilson’s eyes have to be sharp against Miami’s aggressive cover-zero blitz packages, especially post-snap, because of all the different things the Dolphins do to disrupt quarterbacks.
"They’ll hang in there," Saleh said. "They show you something pre-snap. They pop up post-snap and they’re quick to change."
Although Saleh has been encouraged by Wilson’s post-snap recognition, this game will be a good indicator of how far he has come in his first NFL season and whether he’s learned from past mistakes.
Wilson has had some issues against man-to-man defenses. Truthfully, he has struggled against most defenses. He has thrown six touchdown passes and 11 interceptions. The Jets (3-10) are not worried, though. Neither is Wilson.
He has been critical of himself after some games, including last week, when he was 19-for-42 passing against New Orleans. Wilson is not discouraged, though. He believes all of these experiences will make him better and the franchise quarterback the Jets need him to be.
"I really do think there is a lot of growth coming out of all these different situations that we’ve been in," he said. "I just need to take advantage of them and bank those reps."
This is the first time Wilson is facing Miami’s defense. He was recovering from a sprained knee when the two teams played last month.
Joe Flacco started that game and was able to move the football. However, the Jets suffered a team-wide breakdown, with the offense, defense, special teams and coaching decisions all playing large parts in their 24-17 loss at MetLife Stadium.
It’s Wilson’s turn to show what he can do against the Dolphins' stingy defense. Miami (6-7) has won five consecutive games. During that streak, the Dolphins have allowed 11.0 points per game with19 sacks and 11 forced takeaways, which is two more than the Jets have all season.
That leads to the next step of Wilson’s progression: Don’t overthink or overanalyze things. Saleh and LaFleur want Wilson to become so comfortable in the offense that he trusts what he sees and plays loose and isn’t focused on doing everything perfectly. They don’t want Wilson to be robotic.
"You want him to play free," LaFleur said. "Whatever quarterback you have out there, you want them just to play free."
Wilson acknowledged that he’s trying to do everything the coaches ask him to do but also needs to just play football. He thinks he’s doing that more now by simplifying things and focusing on what he deems most important.
"I never really thought I was overthinking things, but in this offense, yeah, there is overthinking on certain things," Wilson said. "Maybe there’s things you don’t even need to worry about. I think that’s part of it, just understanding what you actually need to know and what you don’t.
"One thing I’m learning through this process is what’s just kind of wasted space and what can I actually just use just to play fast and do my thing that I need to be doing out there."
With four games remaining, Wilson said his personal goal is getting more comfortable playing within the offense and making plays.
"Just keep getting better," he said. "Just being able to leave games and say, ‘I was able to pull some positive things out that maybe I struggled with early on.’ I’m just trying to keep improving. How can I just keep putting our team in the best situations and just feel confident out there and throw it around."