I was actually working on a similar article in support of J.T. The fact of the matter is the casual fan is numb to how an offense works. They just assume that an offense is limited by its QB only and that's simply not the case. Urban Meyer doesn't run a vertical offense and never has. The vertical pass is a wrinkle in Urban's offense. His philosophy has always been, stretch the field horizontally, get athletes in space one on one, and let them make a play to get chunk yardage with RAC.
That said, J.T. can only play in the system and under the structure he's allowed to play in. If he's instructed to hold the ball and be conservative than that's what he has to do. If the passing game coordination is based on short to intermediate passes, then that can be factor of several things:
If you don't have WRs who can outrun DBs, out-route DBs, or out-jump DBs for 50/50 balls, then your offense simply isn't going run plays designed to go that way. If you don't have the pass protection to allow those routes to develop you're not going to call those plays either. There's also the overlooked fact that 4 out the top 5 wideouts were injured or recovering from surgery during Spring Ball if I'm not mistaken. So it's not like J.T. had all the time to develop chemistry with them until they were healthy enough in fall camp. It's not merely a function of "well J.T. struggles against elite defenses" eh no, how about Ohio State's whole offense has struggled against elite defenses that have been able to take away the power run. This is why the QB run has been so heavily leaned on.
There's a very specific reason why Urban said "we're going to let J.T. play AND open up the offense" which suggests that the coaching schemes were holding J.T. back and a lack of reps going deep. Even Cardale himself said, it AIN'T the QB. It's this staff being unable to find the balance it wanted which is the reason why Urban got Kevin Wilson. In 2015 his offense had a QB complete 60% for 3500+ yards, 27 TDs to 7 INTS, two 1000+ yard rushers, and three receivers with over 50+ catches, with 1,000+. 900+, and 650+ yards respectively. We see Urban isn't really recruiting the H-back type any more, but true WRs who will definitely compliment this offense more going forward.
Recency bias has everyone thinking J.T. was just missing guys left and right, but only because he had some glaringly bad misses on few occasions, but you're really talking about maybe 10 throws that were that bad the whole season. Every QB has misses where they flat out miss easy throws, throwing behind guys or overthrowing them. These same people will talk about how great Trace McSorley was, but he only completed 57% of his passes this year, but he played in a vertical offense with WRs and a TE who could go get it and win 50/50 balls and the same could be said of most of the QBs names we've seen floated about, Darnold, Watson, etc. I mean show me the comparative pass pro and the early round receivers that J.T. has too please?
The stats the Ozone article missed and misstated are these very important ones:
"Barrett was pressured 101 times on 404 dropbacks. An absurd 44 of those 101 pressures came against Penn State and Michigan. According to the guys at Pro Football Focus, right tackle Isaiah Prince has allowed a nation worst 45 pressures on the season. Out of those 404 dropbacks, Barrett was sacked 25 times and hit 36 times. With the high amount of pressures, it shows that Barrett has pretty good pocket awareness and ability to avoid the rush if he was only hit 36 times and sacked 25.
Also according to Pro Football Focus, Barrett completed 66.9 percent of his passes when he was given a clean pocket, along with a 21 touchdown passes to only 3 interceptions. When facing pressure, his completion percentage dipped to 46.8 percent and threw only 3 touchdowns to 1 interception. When facing the blitz, the quarterback was sensational — completing 59.8 percent of his passes and recording 10 touchdowns to 0 interceptions. For all of the negatives that are pointed out about his game, Barrett is quite accurate when facing a clean pocket or one less defender in the secondary. The blitz numbers show that he makes quick decisions and can easily dissect the blitz."
For comparison, Deshaun Watson's numbers are similar against the blitz and against pressure with him toasting the blitz for 22 TDs, but his completion percentage dipping to 47.6% and 6 INTs against the rush, good for 68th out of 70 qualifying QBs, while also missing easy throws of his own for a -10.6 grade according to Pro Football Focus.
Bottom line the whole offense has been mess for two straight years and Urban is correcting it.