Zach Wilson Elected Jets Captain, Shuts Down Ridiculous Leadership Questions

Zach Wilson Jets

Getty New York Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson throwing the football around prior to an NFL game.

The New York Jets announced their six season-long captains ahead of the official start of the 2021 season.

Jets’ head coach Robert Saleh revealed two on offense (Zach Wilson, Corey Davis), two on defense (CJ Mosley, Foley Fatukasi), and one on special teams (Justin Hardee). Additionally, one captain will rotate on a weekly basis and that player will be selected by the coaching staff.

Although the one creating the most buzz is a certain former BYU Football stud.

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Some Apparent Concerns Over the Last Several Months

A year ago at this time, Zach Wilson wasn’t considered a top quarterback prospect heading into the 2021 class. Then he popped with a brilliant campaign at BYU and there was a palpable buzz that he could be one of the first passers selected come April.

During that buildup to the draft there were a lot of legitimate questions that were raised:

  • Health
  • Level of competition

He battled some fluky injuries in college and had the perception of a slight frame that may or may not translate at the next level. Then of course ESPN’s Mel Kiper suggested the former BYU stud would get a sugar rush from all the cupcakes he had on the schedule.

Wilson didn’t get to pick who BYU played, but I digress. It was a legitimate question whether or not he could make the NFL leap, knowing everyone he faces at this level would be stronger, faster, and bigger, etc.

Although there was one question that was raised during the process that wasn’t valid and created a negative perception: Wilson wasn’t a team captain at BYU thus a red flag should be raised.

That point was first brought up by ESPN’s Todd McShay and was later aggregated by Jets beat reporter Rich Cimini.

Conveniently I just so happened to have an interview scheduled with BYU Football offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Aaron Roderick in the middle of all this controversy, so I asked him to clear things up:

“I don’t know where that came from, but it isn’t true. Not only was he a captain, but he was the captain. I don’t know what else to say about it, but it isn’t true.”

You can listen to the full interview from February by clicking here. We addressed the controversy, Wilson’s journey, and the potential fit on the Jets offense.

Despite that clarity from a direct source at BYU, the narrative continued to hang out there throughout the draft process that Wilson wasn’t a team captain or a natural leader.

This situation drew comparisons to the infamous Draft Day movie where talented fictional college quarterback Bo Callahan was grilled about his 21st birthday and whether or not any of his teammates came to the party.

The Irony of It All

It’s funny back during his run in college, people questioned whether or not Wilson was voted a team captain by his teammates, yet fast forward a few months later and a group of grown men voted him a team captain as a 22-year old rookie in the NFL. Go figure.

“It’s definitely an honor,” Wilson on being named a team captain. “This is a role you definitely have to take seriously. This is who people look up to on the team and someone they can come to if there are any ever problems and I definitely don’t take it lightly.”

When Jets’ head coach Robert Saleh was asked about it he called it rare but said it is a major credit to Wilson’s “infectious energy” and extra time he has spent around his teammates outside of football.

It’s not uncommon for quarterbacks, the NFL’s most important position, to be team captains but earning that love from a group of older guys says a lot about the development and progress Wilson has made since being the No. 2 overall pick in April’s draft.

In Week 1 on Sunday, September 12 his leadership skills will be put to the test in his first-ever NFL game and on the road no less. If all that wasn’t stressful enough he’ll be facing off against ex-Jets quarterback Sam Darnold who was once considered the savior of this championship-starved franchise.

That storyline has been mostly shut down by the coaching staff and Wilson throughout the week who continue to say, “they aren’t facing off against each other, they both play offense.”

While that’s true, it’s hard not to compare and discuss the two.

Especially after Saleh dropped a bomb during his Wednesday press conference in which he revealed that the Jets seriously considered not only drafting Wilson, which they ended up doing, but also keeping Darnold instead of trading him.

What a bizarre alternate reality that would’ve been. Well, thank goodness that never came to light because that would’ve been a circus of epic proportions.

Instead, the current reality has the Jets’ new crowned savior facing off against their old one in a Week 1 tilt that’ll likely set the tone for both teams, whether fairly or unfairly, for the rest of the season.

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