Zach Wilson must be a star to validate New York Jets’ questionable QB strategy – New York Jets blog
FLORHAM PARK, NJ – A marriage that once seemed impossible – quarterback Zach Wilson and the New York Jets – is a reality.
When the 2020 NFL season began, the Jets were invested in Sam Darnold, no doubt about it. Wilson, coming off an ineffective and injury-plagued second season at BYU, has been an afterthought on the college football landscape. He wasn’t part of anyone’s big draft committee. Heck, he had to win a three-way competition to get his starting job back for the Cougars.
Things are moving fast in the NFL, and now Wilson – drafted No.2 overall on Thursday night – is the new perceived savior of the Jets franchise. General manager Joe Douglas fell hard for the baby-faced gunslinger, and by the time he left Wilson’s professional day on March 26, “Joe D. was 100% sold. He was in love with him,” a person familiar with the Said the thought of Jets.
Douglas’s career will be defined by this quarterback trade – the misguided decision to trade Darnold and the selection of Wilson. You don’t want to bury the kid with expectations, but let’s call it that: good won’t cut it. Considering what Choice # 2 would have earned in an exchange, Wilson must be really hey, a player who – two or three years from now – puts the Jets in a position to challenge quarterback Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills for AFC East supremacy.
Long tortured Jets fans will appreciate Wilson because his right arm is electric. He’s creative outside the pocket, and his personal history of beating the odds will play out well in New York City. But there is an element of risk with this choice that cannot be ignored. While many in the Boy Scout community consider him the second best quarterback in this draft – personally I agree with that assessment – there is a difference of opinion on his benefits.
“After seeing this guy throw, I’m like, ‘This is [Patrick] Mahomes, “said an offensive coach of an AFC team after attending Wilson’s professional day.
A longtime AFC scout came up with a different approach, saying, “He plays like Johnny Manziel and throws like Baker Mayfield. He’ll be either Manziel or Mayfield. I don’t think there’ll be any between them. of them.”
In the end, the only opinions that matter are those of Douglas and his team of scouts. They see Wilson as a new age quarterback who can create plays with his arms and legs, who can make quick decisions, and who fits right in with Jets coordinator Mike LaFleur’s west coast attack. LaFleur installs the Kyle Shanahan system, which emphasizes action-play and a mobile pocket.
In 2020, Wilson threw 19 touchdowns without interceptions on game-action passes, according to ESPN Stats & Information. In the past 10 seasons, only two other quarterbacks have had more no-choice touchdown passes than Wilson – Mayfield (24) and Mitchell Trubisky (20).
This pairing illustrates the crapshoot nature of quarterback writing. The Cleveland Browns hit Mayfield, the Chicago Bears sniffed out Trubisky.
Wilson is similar to Trubisky in that he was a one-year wonder in college. Despite having 28 starts and 837 passing attempts, compared to 14 and 572 for Trubisky in North Carolina, Wilson didn’t break through until 2020. He was brilliant in BYU’s 11-1 season, throwing 33 touchdowns against three interceptions (including one on a Hail Mary). Skeptics point to the level of competition, noting that BYU – forced to change its schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic – has not faced any opponents from Power 5.
“You just write down the tape you have,” Douglas said. “There are a lot of arguments that can be made about the strength of the schedule. In the end, it is not the player’s decision. I have rubbed shoulders with players from all levels of football who have been successful.”
With perspectives from smaller schools, Douglas said he tries to focus on “their competitive makeup, their will to win, their desire, their heart.” People who know and have spotted Wilson say he is a tenacious competitor and passionate about football. Coming out of high school as a three-star rookie, his dream school was Utah, where his dad played and his family hung out. When Utah didn’t offer a scholarship, he turned to BYU, Utah’s bitter rival. You have to admire this kind of chutzpah.
Playing quarterback for the Jets is one of the toughest jobs in the sport, one that requires leadership and mental toughness. Wilson, who can be seen as arrogant at times, will be tested like never before, mentally and physically. At 6 feet 2 inches and 214 pounds, he’s undersized by NFL standards. A scout said he “looked like he was 14”. He already has a surgically repaired projection shoulder, and some question its durability.
The Jets are convinced that Wilson is the answer to their decades-long problem, just as the previous regime was convinced of Darnold and the 2009 regime was convinced of Mark Sanchez. Including 1976, Joe Namath’s last season, the Jets drafted 22 quarterbacks, including six in the first round. You know the names: Richard Todd. Ken O’Brien. Chad Pennington. Mark Sanchez. Darnold. Now Wilson.
Maybe this time the Jets will succeed. In some ways, it’s the perfect match.
A once broken and forgotten quarterback has landed with a shattered franchise that’s tired of being forgotten.