5 Myths That Disprove Zach Wilson, Johnny Manziel Comparison

Zach Wilson

Getty New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (#1) celebrates a BYU touchdown with teammate Dax Milne (#5) on October 16, 2020.

Utah native Zach Wilson is nothing like Johnny Manziel.

I would even go as far as to say that they are polar opposites in many ways. If you’re wondering why I bring this comparison up, it stems from a recent viral broadcast from Fox Sports One analyst Colin Cowherd on The Herd.

Admittedly, this type of fiction is better off ignored — Cowherd also famously called New York Jets fans “dopes” for disliking the Adam Gase hire before comparing him to Kyle Shanahan. Talk about your all-time backfire.

Now the FS1 personality is at it again and his Manziel comparison is so erroneous that it cannot go unanswered.

Despite almost zero truthful evidence to back it up, this correlation has become a popular social media go-to amongst non-believers. It’s time to disprove this fallacy once and for all with some cold hard facts.

Here are five typical Wilson myths that are used to categorize him in the same world as “Johnny Football.”

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5. Wilson Is Too Small

Cowherd refers to Wilson as a “smaller athlete,” a pretty common take about the BYU star. Common does not mean accurate though.

The Jets quarterback was slightly taller than 6-foot-2, while Manziel was an even 6-foot. That two-inch difference may not seem like a big deal but it is.

Most interior offensive linemen are just over the 6-foot mark themselves and the average NFL quarterback height ranges from 6-foot-2 to 6-foot-3. Anything under Wilson’s height threshold is typically considered small for a signal-caller because that player may have trouble seeing over the O-line.

As for Wilson, he ranks average in this regard. Could he pack on a couple of pounds? Of course, but we’re talking about a 21-year old athlete who weighs 215-pounds. That’s hardly considered shrimpy for his age.

4. Wilson Cannot Handle New York

This one is really just an assumption that people have made about Wilson being that he’s born and raised in Utah. It’s hard to handle the bright lights of New York and I’ll admit that it takes a rare breed of athlete not to get swept up in it all.

Manziel was not that player. Considering his off-the-field issues, this city would have chewed him up and spit him out.

The irony here is that Wilson is the exact personality needed to handle New York. Tempered, dedicated, disciplined, composed and a little bit boring.

Although he’s told the media that he was “not a big churchgoer” growing up, he still comes from a family-oriented background that was grounded in faith. Unlike Manziel, Wilson’s vices are relatively pure compared to most. Anyone that’s ever known him seems to voice that his religion is football.

Since arriving at Florham Park, Wilson has been nothing but humble and determined. Just like in college, the rookie has quickly taken on the label of “film junkie” from both coaches and fans.

He also still dates his high school sweetheart and barely drinks or parties from what we’ve seen so far — even as his Jets teammates got rowdy at the New York Islanders playoff games.

This young QB’s somewhat boring nightlife reminds me more of Eli Manning than Manziel, no offense to the New York Giants legend. You need a little boring to take on NYC and come out alive. In terms of his mental dedication and preparation, he’s more like Eli’s older brother Peyton.

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3. Wilson Is ‘Arrogant,’ Not a Leader

“Money Manziel” exceeded in these areas with flying colors, so let’s focus on Wilson.

During the draft process, respected NFL insider Adam Schefter was quick to shut down the idea of “character concerns” that were rumored about the BYU product.

“I’ve heard Zach Wilson is an incredible kid,” Schefter said, “I know people that know him pretty well, and they speak pretty highly about him.”

The baseless claims had to do with the wealth of Wilson’s uncle and terms like “selfish” or “know-it-all.” They also spread rumors that the prospect was a poor leader in college. For this argument, people often referenced the fact that the quarterback was not a team captain to start his junior campaign.

Wilson cleared this up live on WFAN’s Carton and Roberts just before the six-and-a-half-minute mark in the video below.

The Jets rookie explained that after a disappointing sophomore year that included an injury, he was told he had to earn the starting job again heading into his third season.

“Why would someone vote for me to be the captain if they didn’t even know if I was going to be a starter,” Wilson reasoned respectfully, “I felt like it was something I had to earn, I had to prove to my teammates that I was capable of being a starter and capable of being a leader.”

The former Cougar also noted that he was eventually named a captain later in the season by his teammates, referring to that moment as a “blessing” that “meant a lot” to him.

After minicamp, Jets coaches and teammates raved about Wilson. The rookie has even stepped up and organized private workouts ahead of training camp.

2. Wilson Cannot Play Under Pressure

Playing behind a solid BYU offensive line against worse edge rushers than someone like Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields, it’s true that Wilson faced a lower pressure rate in college.

The lie is that he performed poorly when the pass-rush did get through.

In Flight 2021: An Offseason with the New York Jets, Mike LaFleur actually touted the Cougars star for his confidence in the pocket when “throwing in a phone booth.”

For those that don’t understand offensive coordinator lingo, LaFleur elaborated: “where that pocket is collapsing and they’re still able to make those throws without looking at the pass rush.”

Manziel didn’t excel in this area as a player that was quick to scramble when under fire.

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1. Wilson’s Game Doesn’t Transfer Into the NFL

Cowherd never liked the Wilson pick. He tagged it as a “bust” in an earlier segment of The Herd.

There are many that share this unwavering belief that the BYU playmaker will turn out to be a one-hit-wonder after his breakout 2020 campaign.

Wilson had a ridiculous 33-to-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio with zero fumbles and a 73.5 completion percentage. This level of production was certainly an outlier compared to the quarterback’s initial two seasons of college ball.

Manziel also had tremendous college numbers at Texas A&M. While this myth syncs up with Johnny Football more than the others, there’s still nothing but speculation behind it.

In terms of arm talent and raw skill as a passer, few prospects rival Wilson, if any. His success, or lack thereof, will likely come down to coaching. Normally, this would spell trouble for the Jets but this new staff seems primed to change that tired narrative.

LaFleur and Wilson will be teamed with head coach Robert Saleh, quarterbacks coach Greg Knapp and offensive line coach John Benton, a formidable leadership core with a mix of experience and potential. This group doesn’t hurt the rookie’s chances, it boosts them significantly.

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