Zach Wilson wasn’t Jets’ only player to disappoint


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As the Jets pick up the pieces from another season without a playoff appearance, they will try to figure out what went wrong and what needs to be fixed going into next season.

There are lots of reasons the Jets lost their final six games and plenty of blame to go around. But if you try to figure out why things did not go the way that was expected, you start to look at who underachieved this season.

I have compiled my list of the five Jets players I thought would be more productive than they were. Not surprisingly, all of them play offense. The Jets defense got pretty much all they could have hoped for or better from all of its main players.

So, here are my five biggest underachievers from 2022:

Zach Wilson, QB

The Jets won five games with Zach Wilson at quarterback, though his performance seemed to deteriorate as the season progressed.
Corey Sipkin

It is hard to start anywhere else. The 2021 No. 2 overall pick was expected to make a leap in Year 2. Instead, he flopped. Wilson suffered a knee injury in the first preseason game and missed valuable time in training camp. He returned in Week 4 and had his best moment of the season in his first game, leading a fourth-quarter comeback in Pittsburgh. But Wilson never looked in command.

The Jets won five games with Wilson at quarterback, but after the Steelers win, it never really felt as if they were succeeding because of Wilson but rather they were winning around him. The wheels completely came off in two losses to the Patriots, and he was benched. Wilson returned to start two more games, but did not play well and looked like a broken quarterback in his final start against Jacksonville.

The 23-year-old finished the year completing 54.5 percent of his passes for 1,688 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions. His 72.8 quarterback rating was the worst in football. To say Wilson did not meet expectations is a giant understatement. Now his future is a huge question mark, and the Jets need to figure out how Wilson fits into their plans.

Elijah Moore, WR

Elijah Moore #8 of the New York Jets runs the ball in the first half at MetLife Stadium, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, in Est Rutherford, NJ.
Elijah Moore has found better chemistry with the Jets’ backup QBs in his two seasons than with Wilson.
Corey Sipkin

Moore had a really promising rookie season with five touchdown receptions, raising hopes he would be a critical part of the Jets offense this season. Not so much.

Moore had 37 catches for 446 yards, one touchdown and one trade request. It is hard to fathom how bad it went for Moore early in the season. After returning from missing one game following his October trade request, Moore played better. The Jets moved him to the slot, where he was more comfortable, and Moore’s attitude improved. He got open late in the season, but the quarterbacks did not always find him.

Moore might benefit more than anyone from a quarterback change in 2023. He and Wilson clearly do not click. Consider this amazing stat: Moore has as many touchdown catches from Wilson as he does from Josh Johnson (one). He has caught two each from Joe Flacco and Mike White. He only has 18 more receiving yards from Wilson than from Flacco despite Wilson throwing to him 25 more times. Wilson’s QB rating when targeting Moore is 41.4.

The Jets’ coaches were encouraged by what they saw from Moore at the end of the season. A change at quarterback could lead to better production in Year 3.

Michael Carter, RB

New York Jets running back Michael Carter #32 breaks away from Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Tre Herndon #37 during the second quarter.
After averaging 45.6 rushing yards per game as a rookie, Michael Carter only managed 25.1 yards per game on the ground in 2022.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Like the first two players on this list, Carter is a member of the 2021 draft class who showed a lot of promise as a rookie, but stumbled in his second season. Carter had a team-high 114 rushes for 402 yards and three touchdowns. He also caught 41 passes for 288 yards.

Carter did not seem to have the same burst he showed as a rookie when he had some dynamic games. Jets coach Robert Saleh referenced problems that second-year players sometimes have, perhaps talking about Carter’s offseason. Saleh did say he expected Carter to bounce back in 2023, but the Jets clearly lost confidence in Carter. When Breece Hall was injured, they traded for James Robinson rather than turning things over to Carter. Late in the season, Zonovan Knight got a heavier workload than Carter did.

The Jets need these key players from the 2021 rookie class to find their grooves in their third seasons.

George Fant, OT

Jets offensive tackle George Fant (76) walks off the field after the Baltimore Ravens defeated the Jets 24-9.
George Fant struggled with injuries and position shifts while being limited to playing only eight games.
Bill Kostroun

A year ago, Saleh said the Jets were keeping Fant at left tackle over Mekhi Becton, a sign of how highly they regarded the veteran. There was even talk of giving him a contract extension. Unlike the others on this list, Fant’s struggles seemed to stem from a physical issue — a nagging knee injury. Fant had offseason knee surgery, and never seemed to regain his strength. Then, the Jets bounced him from left tackle to right tackle after Becton was injured and then back to left tackle when his replacement, Duane Brown, was lost for four games. The constant moving back and forth clearly bothered Fant. He ended up playing in just eight games, starting seven.

Fant is now a free agent, and a return to the Jets seems unlikely.

C.J. Uzomah, TE

New York Jets tight end C.J. Uzomah (87) runs a route during an NFL preseason football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J. The New York Jets won 31-27.
C.J Uzomah never had more than three catches in any game and tallied a total of two touchdown catches all season.

When the Jets signed Uzomah to a three-year, $24 million contract in free agency, he was viewed as a key piece in helping the offense. For most of the season, Uzomah was a highly paid blocker. He ended the year with 21 catches for 232 yards and two touchdowns.

It was clear in training camp that Tyler Conklin was the No. 1 tight end over Uzomah. That became even more apparent once the games started. Uzomah scored both of his touchdowns in a game against the Lions in December. Uzomah’s single-game high was just three catches, which he did twice. His season high for yards was 41 in that Detroit game.

This was not the impact Joe Douglas was looking for when he signed Uzomah, who has two years left on that contract.

Becton in ‘fighting’ shape

My biggest takeaway from the media session on Monday, the day players were cleaning out their lockers, was how good Becton looked. Becton would not say how much weight he lost, but it looked as if he was down 15-20 pounds from the summer. A healthy and effective Becton would be huge for the Jets. Becton showed a lot of potential as a rookie, but has missed all but one game in the past two seasons.

Mekhi Becton speaks to reporters on Monday.
After missing all but one game in the past two seasons, Mekhi Becton appeared to be in much better shape this week than he did in training camp.
Bill Kostroun

I’m not sure how Douglas views Becton entering the offseason. It is hard to count on him being a starting tackle. But Becton looks ready to fight for his job, and it would be something if he puts it together and can fulfill that potential that got him drafted in the first round.

Stat’s so

Garrett Wilson just wrapped up a strong rookie season and could win Offensive Rookie of the Year. He set Jets rookie records for receptions and yards, and his season was up there in franchise history for all receivers. His 83 receptions is tied for ninth in Jets history. Here are the top 10 seasons in Jets history by receptions:

1. Brandon Marshall, 2015: 109 rec., 1,502 yards, 14 TDs
2. Al Toon, 1988: 93 rec., 1,067 yards, 5 TDs
3. Laveranues Coles, 2006: 91 rec., 1,098 yards, 6 TDs
T-4. Laveranues Coles, 2002: 89 rec., 1,264 yards, 5 TDs
T-4. Keyshawn Johnson, 1999: 89 rec., 1,170 yards, 8 TDs
6. Richie Anderson, 2000: 88 rec., 853 yards, 2 TDs
7. Al Toon, 1986: 85 rec., 1,176 yards, 8 TDs
8. Wayne Chrebet, 1996: 84 rec., 909 yards, 3 TDs
T-9. Keyshawn Johnson, 1998: 83 rec., 1,131 yards, 10 TDs
T-9. Garrett Wilson, 2022: 83 rec., 1,103 yards, 4 TDs

Source: Pro Football Reference

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