Football is the ultimate team sport and generally, you win and lose games as such.
That is the case for first-year players and veterans alike, but rookie quarterbacks usually end up getting even more slack from others around them. This year’s New York Jets are no exception.
The defensive reads and knowledge of the playbook take time to master. 95% of the time, it comes with growing pains and Zach Wilson has had his fair share in 2021. Through his first three NFL games, the rookie has now thrown seven interceptions compared to two touchdowns.
A couple of these picks were late-game heaves, but the ratio is still glaring. He’s also been sacked 15 times in the short span, an even harsher statistic on the young signal-caller.
After the team’s 26-0 shutout loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday, September 26, one Jets veteran offensive lineman had some advice for Wilson, and it came off in a way that felt like he was blaming the rookie.
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GVR Wants to ‘Get on the Same Page’ as Wilson
Greg Van Roten has stepped into a leadership role this summer as the franchise’s union player rep and one of the most experienced men on the roster. He also organized team outings at the New York Islanders’ home playoff games.
Perhaps this vocal role has gone to his head a bit though. After the game, “GVR” was asked what Wilson can do to stay healthy and his answer veered off course a bit.
“He’s got to learn, this is the NFL, you’ve got to get the ball out. You can’t hold on to it trying to make a play and throw it deep down the field. And we’ve got to protect him better, it starts with us up front. So we got to get on the same page, I thought we were better today with our communication for the most part,” Van Roten said, per Heavy’s Paul Esden Jr.
“They didn’t really pressure too much but when they did, they were successful and that’s the kind of things you need to stop. You also can’t be in third-and-10, third-and-8, and expect to convert all those. I know we weren’t very good on third down today and it starts with being in third-and-manageable.”
Whether Van Roten is right or not is beside the point, fans were upset that he seemed to point the blame at his quarterback before himself.
To make matters worse, GVR has been the worst-graded offensive lineman according to sites like Pro Football Focus and he’s clearly been the weak link of this unit so far. Leadership role or not, he’s not the player to make this type of statement because if Wilson wanted to return the favor, he has plenty of tape that he could highlight to do so.
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Wilson Takes Team-First Approach
The BYU product has not played as well as us fans would have hoped but his off-the-field demeanor is all you can ask for.
When asked about all the dropped passes in Week 3, Wilson said he just has to “give [his receivers] some love [because they’re] busting their butt out there too.”
“Not every throw is perfect, for sure it’s not, [so] I gotta be more accurate and give these guys some good throws and it’s tough,” Wilson continued during his postgame presser. “I think that just goes back to, football is a team game and it’s not one person. There’s definitely some plays individuals can make, especially myself but it all goes back to the team functioning and all 11 guys doing their job.”
Now, which of these two seems like the six-plus-year NFL veteran after both these quotes?
It’s been a challenging start for Wilson, but the rookie gets it and understands what it takes to win as a team. GVR seems like he would rather cover his own you-know-what.
The right guard was a cut possibility this spring and summer, due to his contract situation, but injuries and inefficiency from his competition handed him the starting job. After Sunday’s quotes, some outraged fans are already calling for Van Roten’s release on Twitter.
One fan in particular called GVR’s commentary “unacceptable.”
Then another outright saying, “This dude needs to stop.”
We’ll see if head coach Robert Saleh or general manager Joe Douglas choose to address this matter.