Allen Lazard is on pace for his fewest number of receptions since his rookie season.
That’s what happens when you go from catching passes from Aaron Rodgers to catching them from Zach Wilson.
“I think the world of Zach, but Aaron Rodgers is in a different world, respectfully,’’ Lazard said after the Jets practiced on Friday. “It’s obviously been a little bit of an adjustment, just getting used to the balls Zach throws. Aaron’s capability of being able to make any play at any time, and to be able make any type of throw, is different.”
But if the Jets have any hope of getting Rodgers back from the torn Achilles that has sidelined him since the fourth play of the season, they’ll need Lazard and Wilson to find their connection.
Through nine games, Lazard has just 20 receptions for 290 yards after setting career bests a year ago in Green Bay with 60 catches and 788 yards.
He also caught six touchdowns last season, compared to just one this year.
Lazard — who signed a four-year contract with the Jets in the offseason, a deal worth $44 million that included $22 million guaranteed — said he’s not worried about his own numbers, just the Jets’ record, and at 4-5 entering Sunday’s game at Buffalo, the sixth-year receiver said time remains on their side.
“As much as we haven’t had the success we’ve wanted, especially offensively, we’re still in [the playoff hunt],’’ Lazard said. “We still have everything ahead of us. The biggest focus on the last half of the season is gonna be on staying healthy and making plays when I’m called upon.”
According to head coach Robert Saleh, those plays could come in a variety of roles.
Saleh called Lazard a “goon” on Friday, adding he wanted the 6-foot-5, 227-pound receiver to zero in on blocking, making catches in the middle of the field and on “50-50 balls.”
“He acknowledges it,” Saleh said. “He knows he can play a lot better. Part of his style is like he’s the goon and when he embraces that role of being the goon, where you’re in there and you’re blocking support, you’re making the big boy catches down the middle and the 50-50 balls in the red zone, and all the different things that he’s done his entire career, when he plays to that role, he usually elevates.”
So far, that hasn’t happened with the Jets.
Saleh is looking for Lazard to “recapturing that and continuing to work is how he’s going to find that … He’s trying to get into that groove.”
Lazard noted that the “goon” term has been applied to him since he was in Green Bay, and rather than look at it as being relied upon to make hard-nosed plays, Lazard considers it to be coaches asking him to fill a variety of roles.
“I’m willing to do whatever the coaches ask,’’ Lazard said. “If that means blocking [defensive] ends, linebackers and safeties, that’s what it is. If it’s catching short, intermediate or deep routes, I’m more than capable of that, as well.”
For all the issues Lazard is facing, he’s averaging a career-best 14.5 yards per catch.
There have just been too few catches.
He believes that could change — as soon as this week against the Bills.
“I see no reason why it might be on Sunday when we figure it out,’’ Lazard said.
But he’s aware the season so far hasn’t gone as planned.
“It’s always tough as an athlete, especially one who has success and is used to that, going through a hard time and not being able to produce the way they’re used to,’’ Lazard said. “But that’s what being an athlete is. It’s being able to overcome adversity and different ruts and bad times in the course of a year. It’s been a different challenge than what I’m used to and it’s only gonna make me better.”