Tomorrow on November 28, the New York Jets will get their starting QB back on the field against the Houston Texans.
While Zach Wilson’s return will be filled with joy for many, it may also involve some nerves as the future of the franchise was outperformed by backups Mike White, Josh Johnson and Joe Flacco in his absence.
Plain and simple — the BYU product can make throws that the three backups couldn’t dream of making on their best day, but he must improve on the little things. Playing quarterback within the system, short accuracy passing, quicker reads and decision-making, getting the ball out fast, and just adapting to the NFL level as a whole.
None of this is uncommon for a first-year signal-caller, in fact, it’s expected. Having said that, what’s a fair projection for Wilson’s first game back from injury? Different Jets analysts weighed in.
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Expectations for Week 12
On November 22, New York Daily News reporter DJ Bien-Aime asked fans to tweet at him with “realistic expectations for Zach Wilson once he returns.”
Before long, the thread of answers seemed to spark a trend around the Jets community and many different fans and team experts gave their two cents on what they hope to see from the rookie in Houston and beyond.
Michael Nania of Jets X-Factor listed three “statistical goals” for Wilson over the rest of the remaining games. They were: “[An] improved adjusted completion [percentage] on short and intermediate throws, [a] quicker snap-to-release time, [and a] lower sack rate.”
These are all acquired traits that we mentioned in the open, AKA, the small details that make the difference between long-term NFL starters and failed prospects.
He stated: “I was debating with a few different people on Twitter today about, what is reasonable production for Zach over these seven games? I want to see him start every game but from a yardage perspective, I was saying I want to see him averaging in that 250-275 range which some thought was a little ambitious, and I don’t think it is. Joe Flacco, Johnson, White, even in the games that White struggled they were getting up around that total and I would like to think that Wilson — with some time off, with Elijah Moore cooking, with the offensive line playing a little more stable, no more [Greg] Van Roten out there — even if he’s not amazing, especially against this Houston defense, I don’t see why he can’t throw for like 265 yards and ideally a couple [of] touchdowns.”
Wilson has thrown for over 250 yards in two out of five games that he’s completed in 2021 — Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers and Week 4 against the Tennessee Titans. Both Nania’s and Caporoso’s asks from the rookie are more than fair, it’s time for the 22-year old to show the fanbase what he’s made of.
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Mike LaFleur: Wilson Making Strides in Practice
Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur has gone from the hot seat to the throne after proving that his system could work behind four different quarterbacks.
Gang Green recently broke records in this regard, with four QBs passing for over 250 yards in a single season for the second time in NFL history. Many fans asked why this should be considered a good thing, but it’s a phenomenal stat for an OC and a barometer of just how much this offense has improved since the bye week.
It’s less encouraging for Wilson, especially if he comes out and lays an egg in Week 12. During his November 26 press conference, LaFleur told reporters that the main thing he wants to see from the BYU product is having “a better grasp of the offense.”
The Jets OC reiterated that he thinks the time off has helped Wilson, rather than hurt him. He added: “The improvements that I believe he’s made these last three days [of practice] — compared to where he was a month ago — I mean, you can see it in those three days and hopefully it will carry over to Sunday.”
LaFleur did make it clear that he does not have any specific expectations for Wilson in Week 12. “We just try to live in the play, in the moment, and whatever comes of it will come,” he voiced. “I’m [just] excited for him as a player [and] a competitor to get back out there, be with his teammates, and again, just go play his game.”
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