Jets Fans’ Faith May Be Rewarded by This Zach Wilson College Trend

Zach Wilson

Getty New York Jets rookie Zach Wilson chats with quarterbacks coach Rob Calabrese during pregame warmups on September 26, 2021.

The early NFL returns on number two overall pick Zach Wilson haven’t been great.

Now, obviously, there are extenuating circumstances; a bottom-five offensive line that has allowed 15 sacks and 33 pressures (leads NFL), a receiving core that has dropped 11 passes (second-most in NFL), a run game that has accumulated 240 rushing yards in three games (fourth-least in NFL), and a rookie offensive coordinator that has admitted he must do a better job during a recent press conference.

That’s the perfect storm of what not to do when developing your rookie quarterback, so it should come as no surprise that the New York Jets have found a way to do it. The same organization failed Sam Darnold and Geno Smith in recent years, as well as many other young signal-callers before them.

This new regime was supposed to be different though. General manager Joe Douglas is a former offensive lineman that built up the trenches in Philadelphia, leading the Eagles to a Super Bowl. His number one task in New York was to reconstruct the offensive line.

Head coach Robert Saleh was one of the top hire candidates around the league. He’s known to be a player-friendly motivator who was born to lead.

Mike LaFleur was supposedly the next breakout offensive genius. His roots are tied to an older brother with a proven track record (Matt LaFleur) and a family of coaches that are infamous around the league (the Shanahans). He’s learned from the best his entire life and now it’s his opportunity to shine.

Pair that with all the offensive additions this spring (Corey Davis, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Elijah Moore, Michael Carter, Keelan Cole, Tevin Coleman, Morgan Moses) and you have what looks to be a lucrative supporting cast surrounding the BYU product.

So what gives? Why has it all fallen apart so quickly and why should anyone believe things will improve?

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‘Trust the Process’

Zach Wilson Press Conference (9/29) | New York Jets | NFL | Week 4Rookie QB Zach Wilson speaks with reporters during Titans week. #NewYorkJets #Jets #NFL Subscribe to the New York Jets YT Channel: For more Jets videos: For more Jets action: Like us on Facebook: Follow us on Twitter: Follow us on Instagram: Get the App:

As Jets fans, we all hate the phrase, “trust the process.” The process has never worked for us in the past, so why would we have any faith that it will work now?

Unfortunately, we’re going to hear a lot of this with Wilson and LaFleur, but maybe it’s not such a bad thing this time around. The Utah native followed an interesting trend during his time at BYU. He didn’t just improve as he went along, Wilson went from average to phenomenal and he did it by mastering the playbook.

Earlier this summer, the rookie told us this. “One thing I can say about college is it was my third year in that offense. I knew that thing like the back of my hand and I felt like kind of anything we were doing, I knew it so well. Out here it’s still, how quickly can I develop these plays?” Wilson stated on July 30.

By now, we all know that the Jets QB is a known “film junkie” and student of the game. I won’t harp on that but I will harp on this trend. If Wilson is going to be a successful NFL quarterback, it will be because he masters the west coast system run by LaFleur.

I know what you’re probably thinking, masters? The performance we’ve seen looks like he’s still in grade school.

All true, but you might have said the same thing about Wilson after his first season or two at BYU. The statistics show astronomical differences during his junior campaign (3,692 passing yards, 73.5% completions, 33 touchdowns, three interceptions, 196.4 rating).

“Three weeks in I feel like I’ve learned a lot,” Wilson told the media on September 29. He continued: “I feel like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel as far as where we’re trying to get and you can’t put a timeline on that. It’s going to take time and we’re just going to keep working it and that’s why I feel so confident.”

In terms of working on his footwork, eye placement and progressions, the rookie answered; “It’s what I’ve done my whole life, BYU was a progression-based offense as well but it’s a different speed now, the NFL is super fast. I would say my biggest thing I need to work on is just how detailed can I be? How quickly can I progress and understand when something’s not there, to not hang on it and just move on?”

After Week 1, LaFleur commented that Wilson’s growing pains will take “all year” and will “go into year two,” not to be discouraging but to explain that being a rookie quarterback in the NFL is a tough and grueling process.

The good news is, this system is similar to the BYU offense in many ways, so it shouldn’t take three years for Wilson to figure it out. It’s just about executing on those minor details.

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Is Wilson’s Confidence Shaken?

"Everyone's Got To Give More" | Zach Wilson Postgame 1-On-1 | The New York Jets | NFLJets play-by-play announcer Bob Wischusen speaks with QB Zach Wilson following the team's week three game against the Denver Broncos. Subscribe to the New York Jets YT Channel: For more Jets NFL Action: #NewYorkJets #Jets #NFL For more Jets action:

Every time he’s asking — and he’s asked often — Wilson immediately tells reporters that his confidence hasn’t been shaken.

Teammates and coaches have echoed that as well. Defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins called the rookie “unflappable,” while Davis guaranteed that Wilson is “more than capable of handling [losses], physically, mentally [and] emotionally.”

I’ll leave you with Wilson’s Week 3 postgame message to fans: “Nobody knows what we go through every single day, grinding from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on all the little details and every little thing, so to come out here and not execute, and not get it done, and not win the game, and just not do very well overall, it hurts. But we see some positives throughout plays, even the negative ones… and I think it just goes back to getting on that film and finding out how we can keep getting better, and how we can just keep that confidence each and every week.”

This kid has what it takes to win and hope is far from being lost, it just may take longer than expected to turn this plane around.

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