Jets Preseason Primer: Zach Wilson Ready for Bounceback, Monday Overreactions

Zach Wilson Jets

Getty New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson talking about some corrections during training camp.

We have finally reached game week for the New York Jets. While it isn’t the regular season yet, preseason will do for now.

It’s the annual Jets versus New York Giants preseason game and there is so much anticipation in the air. To kick off this week, we are starting with another Monday mailbag answering the five hottest questions around the green and white.

Our two experts, Paul ‘Boy Green’ Esden Jr. and Michael Obermuller, are amped up and ready to go; the question is are you?

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Burning Questions on the Mind

1. Coming off of the Green versus White annual scrimmage, what is your most overreaction hottest of hot takes?

MO: There are two ways you can look at the scrimmage results. WOW, the offense may not be as dynamic as people thought from the rushing attack to the wide receiving core (Zach Wilson had almost zero help on Saturday night). Or WOW, this defense is legit. I prefer to be an optimist and support the latter theory.

Going off that theory, my hot take is that at least two of these Jets cornerbacks will turn into household names by the end of the season. By household name, I don’t mean Jalen Ramsey or Jaire Alexander. I simply mean that at least two out of this group will become trustworthy starters at the same skill level or better than a Steven Nelson or Brian Poole (guys that fans advocated signing this offseason). My bet is that Bryce Hall is one of those two, but the other spot has yet to be determined.

Some may call this an overreaction, but I strongly believe that this can happen in Robert Saleh’s system. Between the way the pass-rush looked on Saturday and the way the linebackers and safeties helped in coverage, this scheme overwhelmed Mike LaFleur’s offense. Now, I’m aware that they were facing a rookie quarterback and players like James Morgan or Mike White, but I also think this defense can improve as time goes on with reps and chemistry. The Green & White scrimmage was only the beginning.

Boy Green: Zach Wilson is a bust.

He looked terrible, had happy feet when the pressure got in his grill, and he folded like a used lawn chair in the spotlight.

That would be the most over reactionary hot take coming off of the annual green versus white scrimmage, but I’m also not a prisoner of the moment psychopath. While some media members have gone off the deep end calling Wilson’s performance a flop or terrible, we are talking about practice at the end of the day.

The former BYU stud said it best in his presser after the contest, this is the time to make these mistakes, this isn’t Week 1 versus the Carolina Panthers. He’s going to make mistakes, he’s a rookie, but I’d much rather him make those now then during the month of September.

Anyone who is having any crazy definitive takes, one way or another after a scrimmage is bonkers. It was a good opportunity for all sides to show their stuff, but let’s not go crazy.

2. Throughout this offseason, which player in your mind has completely shifted the narrative from when this started in January to now in a positive way? 

MO: For me, it’s second-year running back La’Mical Perine. After a slow rookie season behind a lousy offensive line and a lifeless system, the popular trend this offseason was to immediately cast the Florida product aside. Keep in mind, Perine was drafted around the same pick as rookie Michael Carter, but the buzz surrounding MC is overwhelmingly positive.

Part of the reasoning behind the Perine doubt is that a contingent of fans don’t think he fits LaFleur’s system, but I disagree. I said from the start that Perine reminds me of San Francisco 49ers’ back Jeff Wilson Jr. and as the offensive coordinator has stated time and time again, his system fits to the skill sets of his players, not the other way around. Perine is a former college captain and high character player that has a nose for the end zone. I agree that his rookie campaign was unspectacular but he’s impressed me this summer so far and I feel he’ll have a role in this new running back core.

Honorable mention: Greg Van Roten. I like his value to the franchise as a veteran team leader and feel his average ability is better than some give him credit for. All that came from reporting on GVR. At the start of the offseason, I was calling for his head! Whoops.

Boy Green: How can it not be linebacker CJ Mosley?

After essentially two years away, most of our expectations were pretty low, but he’s been a pleasant surprise throughout this offseason.

He cut over 20 pounds from his playing weight back in 2019 and with that has increased his sideline-to-sideline speed. If he can maintain his strength and power, then he’ll be well on his way.

In limited opportunities in training camp and during the scrimmage last Saturday, he showed some chutzpah. He’s the key to the defense, if he’s just half the player he was before that’ll have a nice ripple effect on the rest of the defense and take them to another level. The arrow is definitely pointed in the right direction and he’ll be an exciting player to watch this year.

3. On the other side of the coin, which player in your mind has completely shifted the narrative during this offseason in a negative way? 

MO: It’s hard to admit you were “wrong” about a player this early into the season, so this is a tough question. I will say that I’ve had high hopes for Jabari Zuniga turning his career around and his recent injury has derailed his progress once again. I’ll go a different direction though.

I’ve been a supporter of Jason Pinnock for the starting spot opposite Hall all summer and even though this job is far from determined, the impression I’ve gotten from beat reporters is that Bless Austin, Isaiah Dunn, and Brandin Echols are all currently beating out the fifth-round pick. It’s possible that’s not the case because Saleh has been rotating the CBs constantly, but we’ll know for sure in the preseason.

However, I’ll admit that I’m less confident about Pinnock than I was after the draft.

Boy Green: The demise of wide receiver Denzel Mims has been greatly exaggerated.

I was enjoying my weekend with my beautiful fiancé when I was alerted to a report that suggested the talented second-year wideout was on the roster bubble and could even be dealt.

I immediately texted a few people around the league and with the Jets and that report was met with laughter: “I don’t know where that came from, but Mims isn’t going anywhere.”

I get it, there’s been a lot of negative chatter this offseason some warranted and some not. Has he lost some reps to other receivers on the roster? Yes, he has, but I wouldn’t read too much into it.

I’ll start getting worried if we’re going through preseason games and we haven’t seen or heard from the Baylor product. He’s a talented wideout that offers this receiving corps a unique skillset.

Coming off of his rookie campaign a ton of people were high on Mims, but this recent negative energy has forced a lot of Jets fans off the bandwagon. The arrow is facing the other way, but there is plenty of time to correct this. I’m a big believer in the player and his talent.

Preseason Primer Questions on the Mind

4. What’s the No. 1 thing you’re most looking forward to in the first preseason game versus the New York Giants?

MO: Two things and neither really have to do with specific players. One, I want to see this team live, not on Twitter or some form of a handheld video clip. We’ve covered these rookies and fresh faces for months and I can’t wait to actually see them in action. The Green & White scrimmage was disappointing in that sense, but I do understand why coach Saleh would rather keep his formations and plays a secret for as long as he can.

Second, I’m looking forward to seeing how we measure up against another franchise. The problem with the intrasquad scrimmage is that you don’t know whether to feel happy or upset when the defense plays shutdown football. In one sense, all the Wilson haters just got a full round of ammunition until he plays another game, but then again, many fans didn’t trust these young cornerbacks and criticized Joe Douglas for not signing a veteran.

The CBs and the defense won the initial battle, but I’d like to see both sides of this roster win the war together.

Boy Green: As a former player, this question is very easy and that’s facing a football team of a different colored jersey. When you go through the heat of the summer and you’re in the middle of training camp, your teammates can start to grind you.

Things get chippy out there on the field and you start getting annoyed with each other. When the Jets face the Giants on Saturday night, they should be fired up to be under the lights and facing a different team.

This is a nice measuring stick for this new coaching staff, these players, and this team to prove themselves. Plus come on it’s the freaking Giants and there’s that underneath big brother versus little brother rivalry, although both teams have been pretty terrible as of late.

5. Expanding that question out a bit further, what are you hoping to see from Gang Green in this entire three-week preseason schedule?

MO: Since I didn’t do it much for question four, I’ll focus a bit more on personnel now. I’m really excited to see which of these younger rookies and second-year players emerge throughout the preseason to secure impact roles.

This Jets roster has more potential than I’ve seen in a long time, which also comes with question marks. It’s a young team, and that means a roller coaster ride like Saleh said. Personally, though, I’m psyched to strap in and enjoy the journey.

I’m also excited to see our identity and culture form along the way, and that all starts in preseason 2021.

Boy Green: This is another softball for any fan of this team: how Zach Wilson progresses throughout the preseason schedule.

Wilson has shown a resiliency in his limited opportunities thus far. When he has a bad day at the office, he goes back to the tale of the tape to improve, then comes out guns blazing on his next chance.

The scrimmage didn’t go according to plan, but that’s okay, this first preseason game will be his first real chance to prove he can fight back.

In 2021, the Jets have three preseason games and two of their three opponents will practice against them leading into the game. That presents a variety of opportunities for Wilson to face different defenses and to learn on the fly.

He’s only 22 years of age and obviously, Wilson is going to make mistakes, but how he bounces back is the most intriguing thing to me.

Follow @BoyGreen25 @obermuller_nyj on Twitter for all the latest New York Jets breaking news, rumors, fresh takes and more!

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