The Wonder Year

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This is a big off-season for the QB.

He has a lot to work on, like a lot of young quarterbacks following their first season in the league.

Jets coach Robert Saleh said about Zach Wilson at the NFL Owner’s Meeting in late March:

“I’d love to see Zach own the playbook at a faster clip,” Saleh said. “Not that he wasn’t … it was a typical rookie learning curve. We’re really looking for that recall. The fundamentals and all that 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.”

You don’t hear that level of candor very often from an NFL head coach.

Saleh was asked again about the QB at the recent minicamp, and offered this assessment:

“He’s got a really good early command of the offense and he’s doing a really good job in regards to that,” Saleh said. “There’s little things that he’s doing where you’re seeing a little more security. He’s not a rookie, so he’s being a little more vocal. He looks good. He’s getting more comfortable, obviously grasping the offense. He’s never had trouble grasping the offense, but he was a rookie so he goes through it. He’s much further ahead at this point than he was a year ago, for sure.”

An intriguing aspect of the second quote was when Saleh said, “He’s getting more comfortable, obviously grasping the offense. He’s never had trouble grasping the offense, but he was a rookie so he goes through it.”

Saleh was pretty candid there saying, “He’s getting more comfortable, obviously grasping the offense.”

But then perhaps realizing that could cause a stir, added, “He’s never had trouble grasping the offense.”

Look the bottom line is last year was an enormous challenge for Wilson, and understandably so. He came out of college after his junior year, after playing the likes of Troy, Texas State and North Alabama. He went from lighting up some very low-level college defenses, to then facing defensive coaches like Bill Belichick and Sean McDermott. Talk about a quantum leap up in the defenses you are facing.  Wow.

So he struggled at times, reading some of these defenses, which was totally understandable.

And he also struggled at times with the Jets’ extremely complicated scheme under offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, like when he audibled to a QB sneak on fourth-and-two against Tampa Bay.

Talk about a trial-by-fire, that is exactly what Wilson went through last year.

So he entered this off-season with a lot of work to do.

Not only did he need to improve mentally dealing with opposing defenses, but also with his own playbook.

But also, needs to improve his accuracy, footwork and throwing mechanics.

And he’s putting in the work to take these aspects of his game to a higher level.

It will be interesting to see what he can do in Year Two with more experience and an improved supporting cast. Act Two for Wilson will be great theater seeing how he does.

May 9, 2022

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Dan Leberfeld
Dan Leberfeld
Publisher of Jets Confidential Magazine. Call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4) to subscribe. Co-host of Press Coverage every Saturday on SiriusXM NFL Radio from 11-2.

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