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If you are not comfortable with the playbook . . .
Maybe you shouldn’t play.
That is how I look at it.
I don’t view the NFL as a developmental league, especially with very high ticket prices. Look at it like Broadway. If you are going to pay Broadway show ticket prices, you should see the best actors in the world, who have paid their dues, and who are at the top of their craft.
The way I look at it is, if you are paying, let’s say $100 for a ticket, why would you want to watch somebody who is learning on the job and struggling? Hey, once he’s comfortable with the playbook and his job, put him out of there, but why before that?
So that takes us to what Robert Saleh said on Monday in Palm Beach at NFL Owner’s Meeting about Zach Wilson.
“Love to see Zach own the playbook at a faster clip,” Saleh said. “Not that he wasn’t, typical rookie learning curve, we’re really looking for that recall. Just the fundamentals, all the different stuff that we’re looking for, that’s all going to come. For OTAs, really looking for him to take that step in the right direction with regards to playbook, football 101, absorbing the scheme so he can play a lot faster.”
Saleh was asked if Wilson’s developmental struggles last year was a hindrance to the team.
“It’s not too much a hindrance, it’s just the learning curve of football,” Saleh said.
While you can understand why Saleh wouldn’t fall into the trap and say it was a hindrance because that would make headlines, perhaps it was a hindrance. You saw in the Cincinnati game what it looks like when a QB is given plenty of time to learn and develop in the NFL – a QB who entered the league in 2018 and has been developed for three-plus years, plenty of time to learn the why’s and wherefore’s of the NFL.
I don’t like this, and I will never back off my position. Look, I’m not just pinpointing the Jets – a lot of teams do it – throwing guys out there before they are ready. By the way, the previous regime did the same thing with Sam Darnold.
Teams claim they are trying to win, yet they put people in key positions who aren’t ready. Some would argue this is a contradiction of terms.
Let’s move away from the all-important QB position for a second.
Remember when the Jets started rookie Jamien Sherwood at middle linebacker in New England, and the Patriots ran right at the 215-pound linebacker, and he eventually had to leave the game with a serious injury. Not only wasn’t he ready to start, he wasn’t big enough to start, a few months removed from being a college safety. Let’s be honest, he wasn’t big enough to be starting a game at middle linebacker in the NFL just yet.
The Jets lost this game 54-13, and not only that, lost both Wilson and Sherwood to injuries in the game. You see, another reason you don’t play guys before they are ready is that that not only can hurt the team, but they can also get hurt themselves, because of their inexperience. A raw LB might not be good at taking on blocks and his getting rag-dolled or a QB holds the ball too long putting himself in harm’s way too often.
Look, this isn’t just a critique of the Jets, but most of the league.
A billion-dollar entertainment business, the best sports league in the world, should not use games as a petri dish. It’s not fair to the fans, especially at these ticket prices. When guys are ready to roll, put them out there, not before that.
If Wilson was having trouble with the playbook, let him watch from the sidelines until he has the scheme down, and go with somebody else.
And none is a criticism of Wilson.
He didn’t put himself out there.
Just like Justin Fields didn’t put himself out there Chicago before he was ready.
I know I might be in the minority on this, but I will never back off this position.
This isn’t NFL Europe.
March 31, 2022
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