Namely, rookie quarterback Zach Wilson looked extremely comfortable in Mike LaFleur’s system for the first time since Week 4. You could actually argue that the BYU product was better today, even if there weren’t as many spectacular throws.
Wilson showed something else, something fans had not seen since preseason, poise and composure.
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Experts Applaud Wilson’s Week 13 Strides
After the game, Jets X-Factor analyst Michael Nania tweeted his thoughts on the rookie signal-caller’s performance.
“Really impressed by Wilson today. Far from perfect and plenty to learn but his best game of the year in my opinion. Doing much better at getting the ball out quick, taking the safe stuff, and keeping the offense on schedule,” Nania voiced.
While the Titans game may have been more exciting and successful — being that the Jets were victorious — the NFL film expert called the Week 13 effort Wilson’s “best game of the year” and head coach Robert Saleh agreed during his postgame press conference.
“His footwork was awesome, his eyes, his tempo, playing within the scheme and not trying to overanalyze from a guessing — or not guessing game but trying to make defenses pay just cause you might know what they’re in. Thought this was by far his best game in terms of just working, progression and playing within the scheme, and wish we could have kept him in rhythm there in the second half because I thought he was getting ready to have one of those — an explosive game overall,” the Jets HC stated.
Wilson probably didn’t finish the game the way he wanted but he finally had a first-half worth remembering. In fact, his initial two quarters of football were close to perfect, completing 12 of 14 passes for 108 yards with three total touchdowns and a 138.4 rating.
Unfortunately, the defense was miserable and things went awry on offense after the Eagles made halftime adjustments. Even so, Wilson made some big throws in the second half but he also mixed in more mistakes, including an interception and a few off-line incompletions.
One fact was clear on December 5 though, the Jets did not lose because of the BYU product. He did not slow the offense down or hold anyone back. I’d even argue that he made the offense better at times and we finally got a taste of what Wilson’s rare skill set might look like in LaFleur’s blossoming system.
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Twitter Reacts to Wilson
Nania and Saleh weren’t the only two to comment on the rookie. Here were some quotes from different analysts and reporters that cover the team.
The Jet Press followed up after the game: “The people who want Zach Wilson to be bad will look at his stat line today and use it to prove their point. Ignore those people. Today has been a good day for Wilson. Not perfect (let’s relax), but he was the one who led the offense. Offense didn’t carry him.”
Beat reporter Connor Hughes of The Athletic also tweeted earlier: “This is as good as I’ve seen the Jets offense look with Zach Wilson.”
Connor Rogers of the “Badlands” podcast agreed, noting: “Everything looks quicker for Zach Wilson today.”
uSTADIUM added: “Zach Wilson looks like the guy Jets fans thought they were getting. He’s on [fire].”
ESPN’s Rich Cimini even joked that Saleh should let the quarterback kick after replacement Alex Kessman missed two extra points early. The kicker was bad but the defense was pathetic, which contributed to a lack of opportunity for the offense in the second half.
Wilson was asked about the lack of snaps and “loss of rhythm” in the third quarter but as usual, he shouldered the blame as a captain should.
He responded: “It was tough, I would say the biggest issue was we had three plays and we gotta do a good job [with them]. I thought it was a good opportunity for us to practice how to come out and play well when we’ve been on the sideline for a long time, control what we can control and we gotta keep our juices up and going and understand that we gotta take advantage of that one series we had in the third and then in the fourth, how can we just get right back to what we were doing?”
Wilson also acknowledged his improvement but added that the next step is to “find that balance of how I can now go out and use my playmaking ability and then also stay within the offense 99.9% of the time.”