One Simple Change Can Set up Jets ‘X-Factor’ Zach Wilson for Success

Zach Wilson

Getty New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson stands in the pocket on January 9, 2022.

When the New York Jets drafted Zach Wilson, head coach Robert Saleh told him the organization would lift him up, not the other way around.

That should be music to the ears of any rookie quarterback but talk is one thing and putting those plans into action is another. Over the past two offseasons, the Jets have made good on their promise adding a long list of offensive talent for Wilson to lean on.

These reinforcements include; Laken Tomlinson, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Michael Carter, Breece Hall, Tevin Coleman, Garrett Wilson, Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, C.J. Uzomah, Tyler Conklin, Jeremy Ruckert and more. Now it’s on Wilson to complete the turnaround and rightly so, an NFL analyst recently labeled the young gunslinger as the “X-factor” for this 2022 campaign.

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All About Wilson

During a collaborative article with ESPN, Pro Football Focus analyst Ben Linsey explained why Wilson is the Jets’ main X-factor for the upcoming season:

The Jets have set up quarterback Zach Wilson to have success in 2022. Whether he takes advantage of the talent that has been added around him this offseason will play a large role in determining if New York is able to improve on its four wins from a season ago. Wilson didn’t look comfortable inside the structure of the Jets’ offense as a rookie, holding onto the ball for 3.05 seconds on average (fourth highest in NFL) and recording a 54.8 PFF passing grade (third lowest).

Linsey’s assertion is on the money here and he even highlighted a key area where Wilson must learn from his 2022 mistakes. The BYU product held “onto the ball for 3.05 seconds on average” as a rookie. That’s far too long and a simple correction there could pay massive dividends.

The Jets have the playmakers so long as the injury reserve doesn’t reach capacity once again. Get the football out to Moore, Garrett Wilson, Braxton Berrios, Hall, Carter or a tight end in space and the results will follow.

We’ve seen Tom Brady and some of the all-time greats pride themselves on getting the ball out quickly throughout their careers. Heck, even Mike White put on a clinic on short-yardage passing against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The difference for Wilson is that like Brady or a bonified star, he has the arm to make the defense pay the moment they cheat and press coverage. Paired with the run game and more decisiveness underneath, that play-action deep shot is where the Jets offense can really hurt teams in 2022.

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Early Signs Are Positive

OC Mike LaFleur Press Conference | The New York Jets | NFLOffensive coordinator Mike LaFleur speaks to the media on Wednesday, June 1, 2022 during OTAs. Subscribe to the New York Jets YT Channel: For more Jets NFL Action: #NewYorkJets #Jets #NFL For more Jets action:

During a press conference on June 1, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur praised Wilson’s “processing” as a noticeable improvement this spring. That football term incorporates a quarterback’s ability to call a play, read a defense and make adjustments as quickly as possible.

In other words, Wilson’s number one gray area as a rookie is getting better.

“From a mental standpoint,” LaFleur detailed, “obviously all these guys going into year two — whether it be the rookies, or even a guy like Corey Davis — when you’re just in an offense for the second year, you don’t have to learn what words mean anymore. Now you just have to learn — how can I be the most detailed with it and play the fastest I can to perform on Sundays?”

He went on: “Really the last [adjustment is] just in the huddle. [Wilson’s] so comfortable before I give him a play that he’s dapping it up with everybody else, talking to them as I give him a play and that just tells you right there — he kind of knows what is being [called] and then can just obviously, relay to the guys.”

At BYU, Wilson attributed his steady progression to mastering the playbook year by year. If he’s able to do the same with LaFleur’s system in New York, this offense should have enough firepower to explode long-term.

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