Week 4 marks Zach Wilson’s 2022 debut and the New York Jets youngster is the talk of the town — and he’s getting some attention on a national level too.
Some believe Wilson will bomb in his return, looking rusty and more like the beginning of his rookie campaign, while others think he’ll pick right back up where he left off at the end of 2021. Playing within the system, less “hero ball,” a mobile game and most importantly, turnover-free football.
A lot of that could be determined by the Jets’ offensive line and coordinator Mike LaFleur, depending on the game plan and the creativity in the playcalling. Former NYJ head coach Eric Mangini was always known for being a bit of a strategist and he joined the party on September 30, giving his take on reasonable expectations for Wilson’s return and overall future.
Eric Mangini Talks Zach Wilson’s Return, Future Expectations
During a guest spot on “The Herd,” with Colin Cowherd, Mangini chatted about several topics and the final one was his old franchise. The host asked the retired NFL mind what he thought about Wilson and what he “needs to see” from the second-year talent as proof that he can be relied on as the long-term answer at quarterback.
“Well, hopefully, he’s coming back and he’s fully healthy,” Mangini began, explaining that the Jets cannot use any lingering injuries as an excuse later on. Wilson did voice as much this week when questioned on the strength of his knee, and head coach Robert Saleh did appear to proceed with extreme caution when it came to his recovery.
“We’re assuming [that if] he’s back, he’s healthy, he’s ready to go,” Mangini concluded before getting to the next portion of his response.
“Then, I want to see consistent, incremental progress,” Mangini went on. “Things that are tangible, things that are measurable. I don’t want to see pre-snap penalties. I don’t want to see disorganization. Poor decision-making — some of that is going to happen because he’s young — but I want to see less of it, that should decline. So as long as I’m seeing some sort of incremental, tangible progress, week in and week out from that position, then I’m excited about it. If it just falls back to what it’s been, he might not be the right guy.”
It was a fair and intelligent answer from Mangini, who no one has ever doubted because of his football IQ. Don’t necessarily focus on the final stat line or the flashy plays — for better or for worse — focus on the leadership, the game management, the pre-snap intelligence and the mistakes.
Everyone knows Wilson has the ability. He was the second overall pick for a reason. The areas Mangini highlighted, that’s what he needs to prove to this coaching staff and this fanbase in 2022.
Sky Must Be Falling: Cowherd Takes Jets Over Steelers
Cowherd has not been a friendly voice to Gang Green nation over the years but in the shock of all shocks, he took the Jets to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 4.
“I do this very infrequently,” Cowherd preluded accurately, “I like the Jets with an upset win.”
He explained further, getting his usual digs in: “It won’t be pretty, none of their wins are, but I like the Jets this weekend.”
If Cowherd’s betting on the Green & White, you know they must be playing a winnable game and they certainly are. Mitchell Trubisky has shown much more bust than comeback story with Pittsburgh and the Steelers are without superstar pass rusher T.J. Watt.
Going one step further, Wilson’s return should give this Jets team some juice while the Steelers players looked like a team that has no belief in their quarterback last Thursday. It’ll be the Kenny Pickett show in the Steel City soon enough but until then, New York has to take advantage and secure a victory against a lifeless roster.