Jets Preseason: Uplifters and Downfallers from the Kickoff Game Against the BrownsAugust 4, 2023
Greg Zuerlein: Finally A Kicker We Can TrustAugust 8, 2023
Zach Wilson, the much-debated quarterback of the New York Jets, has been on a roller coaster ride since the start of his NFL career. Renowned for his remarkable college career at BYU, Wilson’s transition into the NFL revealed a stark contrast. His initial seasons were marked by a series of on-field difficulties that led to his underwhelming statistics. However, recent developments indicate a promising change in Wilson’s trajectory.
Wilson’s time in the NFL has been anything but smooth. His first two seasons were marred with on-field issues that made him one of the least effective quarterbacks in recent NFL history. Holding a record of 15 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, and 4,022 yards in 22 starts, Wilson’s performance as the Jets’ starting quarterback was far from ideal.
His problems were multifold. He grappled with understanding the Mike LaFleur-coached offense, missed reads, held onto the ball excessively, and made questionable decisions leading to turnovers. His once-praised accuracy seemed to vanish, possibly due to deteriorating mechanics. Moreover, his reluctance to use his athleticism, which was a notable feature of his college career, added to his woes.
The Unfavorable Setting
While Wilson’s struggles are largely attributable to his own shortcomings, it is also worth considering the circumstances surrounding his entry into the NFL. Wilson was thrust into a challenging environment with the Jets, devoid of seasoned veteran coaches to guide him through his initial NFL years. His primary interaction was with rookie Offensive Coordinator (OC) Mike LaFleur and rookie quarterback coach Rob Calabrese.
Adding to this was the lack of a robust veteran presence or competition in the quarterback position. The only semblance of this was the acquisition of Joe Flacco in October of Wilson’s rookie year, but his impact was seemingly negligible.
The Jets’ Stand
Despite the hurdles, the Jets have displayed an unwavering belief in Wilson. They chose not to remove him from the roster, attributing his struggles to the unfavorable conditions he found himself in. Instead, they are keen on providing him an opportunity to reset and hone his mechanics and mentality.
The Arrival of Aaron Rodgers
The Jets sought to instill a fresh breath of life into the team by trading for superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Primarily aimed at pushing the Jets towards Super Bowl contention, Rodgers’ arrival also posed a significant opportunity for Wilson’s development. Additionally, the Jets brought on board Nathaniel Hackett as the team’s offensive coordinator, infusing the much-needed experience into the role.
Rodgers, whom Wilson idolizes and seeks to emulate, is expected to offer invaluable guidance to the budding quarterback. Hackett, renowned for his player-friendly approach, is seen as a potential catalyst in teaching Wilson the intricate aspects of the position.
Zach Wilson Training Camp Observations
Wilson’s progress during the training camp has been encouraging. His comfort level has visibly improved, and his progressions have been more accurate. He has shown better control over his footwork, resulting in improved ball placement. His poise in the pocket has also been commendable, with a noticeable shift in his approach to handling pressure.
Wilson’s training camp improvements translated into his first live-game performance of 2023. In the preseason opener against the Cleveland Browns, Wilson completed 3-of-5 for 65 yards, including a remarkable 57-yard pass to Malik Taylor – one of his best deep throws in his NFL career.
Rodgers and Hackett’s Assessment
Rodgers and Hackett have acknowledged the strides Wilson has made since their arrival. Rodgers commends Wilson’s “maturity” and encourages him to seize this opportunity to “reset.” Hackett points out Wilson’s improved understanding of the fundamentals and the potential benefits of learning from Rodgers.
Zach Wilson’s Perspective
Reflecting on Rodgers’ influence and his offseason approach, Wilson expressed gratitude for Rodgers’ guidance. He also conveyed a newfound sense of direction and comfort in his training camp and OTA’s efforts.
The Road Ahead
While Wilson still has a considerable journey ahead in terms of improvement, his progress so far is a beacon of hope. His recent performances in practice and the preseason game indicate a step forward from his previous form.
The Jets’ 2023 season, despite Rodgers being the established starter, heavily relies on Wilson’s development. If he continues to build on his promising practices and demonstrates his progress in games, the concerns surrounding the Jets’ backup quarterback situation might just be alleviated.
In conclusion, Zach Wilson’s career trajectory is rising, showing signs of hope and progress. As a passionate fan, the unfolding narrative of Wilson’s career is a compelling watch, filled with twists and turns but hopefully leading to a satisfying climax. Only time will tell if he lives up to the expectations and fulfills the promise he once showed as a rookie.