Zach Wilson is a quandary and a contradiction wrapped in his No. 2 green-and-white Jets jersey.
The Jets hope, as they embark on their closing eight video games after an eye-opening (if sudden) 6-3 begin, that Wilson doesn’t develop into one thing else as they chase a primary playoff berth in 12 seasons: A legal responsibility.
Former NFL coach Invoice Parcells at all times judged quarterbacks by two issues: wins and getting their groups into the top zone.
Wilson is 5-1 as a starter this season, which is, after all, a very powerful statistic of all.
However there are some causes for potential concern going ahead. In his 167 cross makes an attempt this season, Wilson has thrown solely 4 landing passes. Over a 17-game season, that initiatives to only 11 landing passes, a tempo that’s seemingly not going to be sufficient if the Jets are going to be a correct menace in January.
Wilson, for his spectacular won-loss document, has not been getting the offense into the top zone typically sufficient. Solely 5 AFC groups and 5 NFC groups have produced fewer factors than the 196 the Jets have scored this season.
To be honest to Wilson, he’s simply 23 years outdated and solely 19 begins into his profession.
However the speedy success of current high-draft-pick quarterbacks Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow can develop into a curse if you’re the No. 2-overall decide within the draft as Wilson was in ’21.
Zach Wilson is sacked by Lawrence Man through the Jets’ loss to the Patriots earlier this season.Getty Pictures
And, the Jets have all of the sudden (if unexpectedly) morphed right into a win-now mode. That has turned this season, which started as a show-us-who-you-are referendum for Wilson has develop into a lot, rather more than a developmental 12 months with the playoffs inside tantalizing attain.
Make no mistake: The Jets’ components — terrific protection and a extremely good operating recreation — has been profitable via 9 video games.
However they’re seemingly going to want extra, starting Sunday at Gillette Stadium of their second assembly in a month with the 5-4 Patriots.
New England coach Invoice Belichick, as he certainly did earlier than the groups’ first assembly (a 22-17 Patriots win on Oct. 30), is probably going telling his protection that if it shuts down the Jets operating recreation Wilson received’t be capable of beat them along with his proper arm.
The Patriots are nearly sure to stack the field with eight (and generally extra) defenders and dare Wilson to beat them via the air.
The query then turns into this: What’s the Jets’ confidence degree that they will win video games on the energy of Wilson’s passing prowess?
“Excessive confidence,” Jets receiver Braxton Berrios mentioned.
“Final confidence,” Jets heart Connor McGovern echoed.
Zach Wilson throws a cross through the Jets’ win over the Payments.N.Y. Submit: Charles Wenzelberg
Wilson, who’s by no means thrown for greater than two touchdowns in a recreation and has thrown for 2 solely 5 instances in 19 video games, has offered some proof that he can sling it round when wanted. The best way he performed within the 24-20 comeback victory over the Steelers on Oct. 2 — which additionally occurred to be his first begin of the season after getting back from a preseason knee damage — was Exhibit A.
Wilson performed his worst recreation of the season within the loss to the Patriots final month, throwing three interceptions, the final two of which have been careless heaves into the New England secondary. Oddly, that recreation was the primary and solely time Wilson as thrown for 300 or extra yards (355) in his profession.
Jets head coach Robert Saleh mentioned Wilson’s critics “are sort of holding him hostage to 4, 5 performs that he had towards New England.”
The week after the loss to the Patriots, Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur did a terrific job of dialing again what he requested Wilson to do, notably with downfield reads, and emphasised Wilson eliminating the ball faster with sooner, making extra decisive throws.
That led to among the best performances of his profession in a 20-17 upset win over the Payments, towards whom Wilson was 18 of 25 (his highest completion share of his profession at 72.0) for 154 yards with one landing and no turnovers.
As environment friendly as these numbers have been, they weren’t precisely carry-the-team-on-your-shoulders numbers, and that’s one thing we haven’t seen from Wilson in his 19 profession begins.
To this point, the Jets haven’t requested him — or wanted him — for that.
“Zach’s going to do what it takes to win,” McGovern mentioned. “He understands he doesn’t need to throw 50 instances and put up 4 touchdowns within the air to win video games proper now the way in which this workforce is enjoying, and he’s completely cool with doing that.”
The query is how lengthy can the Jets proceed to win this manner?