Keelan Cole had never seen anything before that Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson pulled off Sunday, at least not from a teammate.
In terms of clearing the bar, Cole’s praise of Wilson is probably closer to raising a leg on a lower bar. Eventually, the Jets wideout played four seasons at Jacksonville, catching passes from the likes of Blake Bortles, Chad Henney and Gardner Minshaw.
Still, he was taken aback by what he saw from Wilson in the Jets’ victory over the Titans.
“It was a big step forward. I’ve never really looked at a quarterback, personally, on my team,” Cole said Wednesday at Jets practice.
The play that prompted Cole’s jaw-dropping fourth-quarter scuffle that bought Wilson bought his most dangerous receiver, Corey Davis, before taking it deep. Wilson, who rolled to his right, broke loose with a pass from his 40-yard line, which Davis had caught while falling in the end zone.
Amid Wilson’s early-season struggles, Jets head coach Robert Saleh has exhorted the rookie to be more “boring” – to take what the defense gives rather than force anything. On that 53-yard touchdown pass to Davis on which this tight end appeared Tyler Croft had been open for a while, Cole liked that his quarterback wasn’t going to bore his fans or teammates.
“I don’t think you all understand how he set it up. There were two men walking down a path, and one was wide open — it wasn’t what he threw,” said Cole, who played this season. Has been a helpful presence in and out of the slot for Wilson. “But he took the chance, took control and made that play.”
The touchdown lifted the Jets 24-17 in a game won in overtime for their first win of the year and the first win of Wilson’s NFL career.
Wilson’s brain development is a work in progress that has to balance the exhilarating with the everyday. The pure genius Wilson displayed in that play offered a glimpse at his terrace after finding that balance.
When Wilson needed to throw a bomb at Cole on third and -6 from the Jets 32 in the third quarter, there wasn’t much windup involved. When Wilson sensed the pressure and rolled to his right, Cole said he knew just to keep running, that his quarterback would find time and possibly get it. Fifty-four yards away, he found Cole setting up a field goal, giving the Jets the first lead of the game.
“He threw it 60 [yards],” said Cole, who caught three passes for 92 yards. “I wonder how far he throws it when he is really trying to throw it as far as he can.”
A lot can change in a week, especially with the 22-year-old quarterback, who was intercepted six times in the past two weeks by the Patriots and Broncos combined in losses. “Boring” is said when “exciting” doesn’t work.
But while the latter works, it’s just another dimension Wilson can use to help the Jets win.
Cole, a first-year Jet, said extra-time teams could get closer together this season after last year’s campaign played out in the throes of the pandemic, enabling more chemistry to pull off those impromptu plays. that Wilson has. skillful for.
“I wouldn’t say that some of the off-schedule plays that we had [me] Trying to do too much,” Wilson said after last Sunday’s win. “It was just part of the game that comes naturally to me, being able to off-schedule things.
“I’m going to improve on taking the easy guys, reacting to the defense that gives me.”
It is Wilson’s hand that the Jets valued most to convert him into the No. 2 pick, but his legs have been active and quick to avoid a few crumbling pockets, allowing his creativity to shine.
Wilson only has a run of 19 yards so far, but it’s possible he’ll do more than scrimmage behind the line of scrimmage.
“One of these times he’s going to fly, and you’ll call him Michael Vick,” Cole said as the Jets prepared for Sunday’s game against the Falcons in London. “I feel like he’s going to do something crazy off his feet as the season progresses.”