For whatever reason, New York Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur and first-round quarterback prospect Zach Wilson just have not seemed to mesh during their initial two campaigns together with the Green & White.
Some blame Wilson. After all, the offense has moved the ball to some extent behind veterans like Mike White, Joe Flacco, Josh Johnson, and even Chris Streveler. Obviously, that’s not a good sign for the youngster from a more black and white perspective.
Others blame LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Rob Calabrese, who have been unable to harness Wilson’s raw potential after drafting him. The major blemish on the coaching staff’s resume is John Beck. After the Jets brought in Wilson’s private QB trainer in 2021, both he and White appeared to excel, calling into question LaFleur and Calabrese’s ability to shape and teach non-veteran minds.
Whoever is at fault, LaFleur and Wilson are desperately trying to right the ship together as their futures with the franchise are now in doubt. The Jets OC spoke on his quarterback prospect following the Jacksonville Jaguars loss on December 23.
Jets’ Mike LaFleur Has One Word to Describe Zach Wilson
“It wasn’t just Zach, it was us as an entire offense starting with me,” LaFleur voiced on Friday, taking accountability similar to Wilson and head coach Robert Saleh the night before. “Obviously wasn’t good enough. Couldn’t get a run game going, had five penalties in the first half — execution, fundamentals, everything was off. Again, that starts with me [as OC].”
Later, reporters asked LaFleur to tell them something about Wilson that the play-caller has learned since the start of 2022. After a long pause, the NYJ offensive coordinator began his response with one adjective.
“He’s resilient,” LaFleur stated.
“He is,” the assistant coach explained. “I know you guys don’t get to see that on a day-to-day basis but he has grown a lot in the last two years. He’s faced more adversity than he probably ever has in his entire life, and he keeps showing up to work looking for ways to get better.”
The follow-up asked if he’s a better quarterback in year two than he was as a rookie.
“I do believe he’s a better quarterback,” LaFleur backed Wilson — and also his ability to develop him, “I know it’s not showing. I know he feels more confident going into games, I know he feels more confident with the speed of the NFL. It’s not showing [and] it’s going to be written that it’s all about him but it’s not.”
LaFleur declined to comment on why his offense appears to work better with other quarterbacks at the helm.
Mike LaFleur-Zach Wilson Relationship Continues to Amaze
On the surface, both Wilson and LaFleur have consistently supported each other at every press conference. That’s what makes this situation so fascinating.
There is some sort of disconnect between the two, clearly, even if it’s not personal. And yet, this current Jets regime has managed to keep all of that in-house. That, in itself, could be taken as a minor silver lining.
One comment from LaFleur was interesting though. The NYJ OC claimed that Wilson has gained confidence in year two after Saleh pretty much admitted to the world that the youngster is struggling with confidence right now — and it’s obvious that he is.
This may have just been coach-speak from LaFleur, in an attempt to boost Wilson’s psyche, but words like resilience and improvement don’t mean much to fans if they never witness the 23-year-old display them on the field. The OC is right — adversity has hit and both he and the BYU product are drowning under its waves.