Questions are coming in for Zach Wilson as fast and furious as the NFL pass rushers he’s trying to run every week.
Why is he throwing so many interceptions?
Why has he been so wrong on short and intermediate passes?
Why has he started every week so slow?
Has his confidence been shaken?
Don’t worry about Wilson. The child will be fine.
Wilson isn’t worried about Wilson, and neither are his teammates or coaching staff.
The Jets’ 22-year-old rookie quarterback, who has played five NFL games, hasn’t even shown signs of breaking his confidence—despite being thrown and NFL-high nine interceptions and placing his team in last place. AFC East at 1-4.
“Everybody believes in him,” center Conor McGovern said Tuesday. “The best thing about Zach is that he doesn’t let anything affect his confidence. In his career, I’ve seen young quarterbacks shake their confidence and never come back.”
None of us know what Wilson is going to become. Not Wilson, not head coach Robert Saleh or his staff, not media, not fans. But the five-game sample size is hardly enough to label him a draft-day bust or flop.
Every Jets fan wants Wilson to be who Justin Herbert was for the Chargers last season or who was for the Borough Bengals.
Herbert completed 66.6 percent of his passes for 4,336 yards, 31 TDs and 10 INTs as a rookie. Burrow completed 65.3 percent of passes for 2,688 yards, 13 TDs and five INTs in 10 games as a rookie.
Those two players are outliers, not ideal.
“I hope to do better than myself,” Wilson said Tuesday before heading home with her family for the week goodbye. “My hope for the team is to win every single game, just because I know we can, and I know we have the ability to do that. But we also know it’s a process. It’s sad not to do well in the first five games, but we have a lot to look forward to.”
Of the quarterbacks selected in the first round of 2021, New England’s Mack Jones has had the best of the season with a 71.1 percent completion rate, five TDs and five INTs. He, too, is being coached by the best coaching staff in the NFL along with Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniel.
It’s not making excuses for Wilson, but the fact remains: He’s a rookie who is surrounded by rookies at every important spot on the team—beginning with Saleh and his offensive coordinator, Mike LaFleur.
Wilson may have a higher ceiling than Jones with the ability to play more dynamic, but Jones is being trained better at the moment.
That’s exactly what the Jets signed up for when they placed Wilson second overall and didn’t bother to bring in a seasoned backup to serve as a consultant, which was in the decision. There was an error.
In fairness to the Jets, Greg Knapp was supposed to be that mentor, but he tragically died after being hit by a car while riding his bike on the eve of training camp.
Knapp had coached the likes of Steve Young, Peyton Manning, Michael Vick and Matt Ryan, who picked up the Jets’ defense on Sunday in London, and Young, who was close to Wilson, as a fellow BYU grad. Hain, said in a Monday interview with Michael Kaye on ESPN radio that he “felt very comfortable” for Wilson knowing he would be mentored by Knapp.
Young said that without Knapp, the Jets are “in a tough position” right now as far as having someone to properly help Wilson navigate the difficult times.
“How Much Has It Really Shown” [Wilson] He needs someone who has been around to reference him so that he can act fast despite the challenges,'” Young said.
Young said he texted Wilson two weeks ago after the Jets won his first game, telling him, “You’ll have to remember the way out of this.”
He said Wilson’s response was: “You know what? The NFL is tough, but I love it.”
“Zach is going through the final challenges of the NFL where you don’t have much help, expect you to be great [and] You see other rookies succeeding like Mack Jones,'” Young said.
Wilson, however, seems taken aback by all of this, which may be his biggest strength at the moment.
“He is seen as a savior for this franchise and has embraced everything that comes with it,” defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins said on Tuesday. “I am confident that he will continue to lead the franchise going forward.”
So does Wilson.
The child will be fine.