On July 8 we saw a viral photo of rookie quarterback Zach Wilson studying film during a poker game on his family vacation, or at least so it seemed.
Since day one, the BYU product has been praised by the New York Jets coaching staff for his dedication and his thirst for knowledge, which made the theory behind this picture an easy one to believe. Wilson is a film junkie, why wouldn’t he be watching tape instead of playing poker?
I’m with you, but for any doubters out there, 3DQB trainer John Beck helped to further explain the mentality of the rookie in recent interviews with Jets media.
For those muttering to themselves, John who? Beck is a former BYU and NFL quarterback himself but his more notable career came after his playing days. The ex-QB has become a coach during his retirement, and a well-touted one at that.
Most recently, Beck trained Justin Fields, Trey Lance, Kyle Trask and Wilson from the 2021 rookie class. As a former second-round pick-turned journeyman backup, the quarterback guru knows just how challenging the mental and emotional side of the game can be.
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Wilson Processes the Game Like an OC
Jets contributor Jack Bell also quoted Beck on Wilson: “He’s relentless, always dialed in on how he can improve.” Something we’ve heard about the rookie before.
The trainer continued: “It’s about playing smarter. The cool part for him is that he got to have the same offense for three years [at BYU], which allowed him to mature and progress in the system to the point that he mastered it. It’s just about him playing smarter in the system, with [the] tools he has.”
Many criticize Wilson for his earlier years of college before his breakout junior campaign, but why not credit him for learning and refining his craft. Maybe the opponents had nothing to do with his premier season as a Cougar, maybe he just got to a point where he mastered the system he was playing in as Beck suggests.
Most college prospects have physical traits that separate them from the competition but it feels like less and less have that football IQ — which is even more crucial for the quarterback position. Wilson has both, and Beck wasn’t shy about making that clear.
“Physically it’s going to be hard to find a guy who has more natural arm talent,” Beck explained, “Zach can make difficult throws look easy. He runs around and has some quick feet, and you’d be surprised at how explosive he is.”
On the mental side, Beck noted: “He’s very cerebral when it comes to the game. You often hear people say they want an offensive coordinator on the field in the quarterback, or an extension of the offensive coordinator. That’s how Zach’s mind processes games. He sees things through the lens of an offensive coordinator and when he’s on the sideline he talks in that manner.”
Blame whoever you want but that partnership never seemed to be on the same page, well, except when they were complimenting each other after losses.
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BYU Ran a Similar Offense
As Bell discusses in his article, Wilson’s BYU playbook was very similar to LaFleur’s west coast system.
During episode three of Flight 2021: An Offseason with the New York Jets, head coach Robert Saleh broke this down for Jets fans: “When you watch his tape, a lot of the concepts that they ran at BYU translate to what we do, and so that was the first thing. You actually saw [Wilson] making the throws that we would be asking him to make within our scheme.”
Saleh continued: “When we got a chance to meet with him on tape he had already known our verbiage just being with John Beck at the quarterback school that he goes to.” The Jets HC went on to commend the rookie’s play recognition and recall during their zoom chats.
For a first-year signal-caller, this is obviously a huge plus. It was also just another selling point that made Wilson so attractive to Joe Douglas and this organization.
Beck told Allen that he loved what Saleh first said to Wilson over the phone: “This organization is going to lift you, not the other way around.”
If this ends up being a match made in heaven for Wilson and the Jets, all these little details will be the reasons why. Let the good times roll.