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Early Wilson Critics Overlooking Huge Aspect of Development


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Zach Wilson

In case you haven’t heard, the New York Jets have a new franchise quarterback (or so they hope), and his name is Zach Wilson.  A first round pick taken second overall in this year’s draft, Wilson has looked every bit as good as the Jets had hoped when they chose him.  In a pair of pre-season games Wilson has played a total of six drives, completing 15 of 20 passes for 191 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions.

Zach Wilson’s 2021 preseason (6 drives):

15/20, 191 yards, 2 TDs, 0 sacks

vs Man: 4/8, 47 yards
vs Zone: 11/12, 137 yards, 2 TDs

in + territory: 5/8, 72 yards, 2 TDs
in RZ: 2/2, 36 yards, 2TDs

vs 2-high: 3/7, 50 yards, 2 TDs
vs 1-high: 12/13, 134 yards#Jets #TakeFlight

— Dylan Tereman (@DTereman) August 23, 2021

Predictably, anyone who isn’t a fan of the Jets, or in some cases Jets fans who didn’t like the Wilson pick, are quick to regurgitate the same criticisms we hear of successful rookies every pre-season; Wilson has done what he has done against what has largely been NFL backups.  A fair point to be made, but only to a degree.

The point is fair in that the players and schemes Wilson will see on game day during the regular season will be far superior to what he’s facing in the pre-season.  However, anyone dismissing his performance outright is ignoring an important aspect of his development.

Coming out of BYU, which is hardly a football factory, these second and even third-string defenses are more talented than any group Wilson faced at any point in BYU.  So while the rookie isn’t dropping TD’s in the bucket against Pro-Bowl corners, he’s also not throwing succeeding against Navy, Massachusetts or North Alabama.

More often than not, that was the caliber of teams on BYU’s schedule when Wilson  was under center.  The fact that the QB played and thrived against low-level competition was largely held against him leading up to the draft.   Yes, Wilson did beat USC and Tennessee who were better than most teams on their schedule, but they were far from the powerhouses they once were.

How many players did Wilson face who are good enough to find themselves on an NFL roster even while teams carry 85 players? Not many.  How many teams did Wilson face in college that had 11 defenders on the field, all of whom were good enough to be in an NFL camp at any point?  Zero.

So for Wilson, while he may be feasting on defenses that he won’t see during the regular season, he is facing the most talented defenders he has ever seen and the kid hasn’t flinched.  He has been poised, decisive and effective.  Wilson has thrown the ball accurately on the move, with pressure in his face and while going through multiple progressions.

.@ZachWilson & @TheCDavis84 got goin' yesterday pic.twitter.com/P1qDz4UkJU

— New York Jets (@nyjets) August 22, 2021

Whether or not this continues on Sundays over the coming months remains to be seen.  Wilson may or may not become an elite quarterback, but one thing he has done without a shred of doubt is continue to play at a high level even as the competition has dramatically improved which is what the expectations of a young quarterback should be.  Watch, learn, play and elevate your game.  Wilson has done all of that so far whether his detractors choose to acknowledge it or not.

Nobody is putting the kid in Canton after a couple of pre-season games, but denying or trying to diminish his progress is just foolish.

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I think your point about level of competition is a good one but it’s more about the talent disparity in the matchups he’s facing. Cory Davis against backup corners was a mismatch. Our starting OL against backup DL with little blitzing led to great pass protection. In the regular season he’ll face more pressure with tighter coverage so he still has a lot to prove. That said the results so far are way better than i could have imagined and extremely encouraging. 

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Completely false narative.  Wilson was the No. 2 prospect at QB going into the draft by almost ever expert.  I have little doubt that he was the No. 2 QB on almost all 32 NFL teams going into the draft.

The defensive nonesense of Jets fan that the media is out to get us and that Zach wasn't the No. 2 QB prospect coming out is pure BS. 

The talking heads need to talk about stuff before the season starts.  All QB prospects can be doubted by the talking heads becuase there is a high bust rate.  Wilson wasn't doubted as a prospect at all.  He was highly hyped and he was the No. 2 prospect for a reason.  He had the tape and earned it. 

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While the level of compensation  he is facing is better tham it is in college, it shouldn't  be over looked that the Jets are putting out the entire first team O against second and third string defenses so it is good to see Zack to perform  as he did on Saturday, you really can't read a lot into it.

I will say Zack has looked very composed and seems to be hitting the right receiver. The one pass I didn't  like was the long pass Davis. Davis had to stop and wait for the pass. True had Davis kept running he would have run into coverage but IMO, during the regular season that is picked or batted down unless a defender fell. This was just really  bad coverage allowing a teams #1 option to get loose. I would have preferred Zack get him the ball while he was still running to that spot. 

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47 minutes ago, Bowles Movement said:

Wilson’s supporting cast in college wasn’t a collection of all stars like Mac Jones had-That talent disparity is hard to dispute.  The guy had three offensive skill players taken in the first round and several offensive lineman in the top 2 rounds.   I dont believe any of Wilson’s WR , RB or linemen were drafted.  

Dax Milne 7th round

Brady Christensen 3rd

 

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6 minutes ago, ZacharyWilson said:

Dax Milne 7th round

Brady Christensen 3rd

 

I stand corrected.  But a 3rd and a 7th rder is hardly an all star supporting cast.  Compare to OSU, Clemson and Alabama for sh*ts and giggles.

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34 minutes ago, More Cowbell said:

While the level of compensation  he is facing is better tham it is in college, it shouldn't  be over looked that the Jets are putting out the entire first team O against second and third string defenses so it is good to see Zack to perform  as he did on Saturday, you really can't read a lot into it.

I will say Zack has looked very composed and seems to be hitting the right receiver. The one pass I didn't  like was the long pass Davis. Davis had to stop and wait for the pass. True had Davis kept running he would have run into coverage but IMO, during the regular season that is picked or batted down unless a defender fell. This was just really  bad coverage allowing a teams #1 option to get loose. I would have preferred Zack get him the ball while he was still running to that spot. 

He didn't stop and wait for it - he came back to it.  It was a back shoulder.  Something you saw a lot of Wilson in college and will see a lot in the pro's.

It was a great play, great choice and throw.

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7 minutes ago, FidelioJet said:

He didn't stop and wait for it - he came back to it.  It was a back shoulder.  Something you saw a lot of Wilson in college and will see a lot in the pro's.

It was a great play, great choice and throw.

Whatever you want to call it, Davis was standing waiting for the ball. This wasn't  a comeback to shake a defender, he was running wide open the entire time. 

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1 hour ago, More Cowbell said:

Whatever you want to call it, Davis was standing waiting for the ball. This wasn't  a comeback to shake a defender, he was running wide open the entire time. 

Watch the play again.  if Davis kept running he would have run into 2 defenders.  Wilson threw into the hole in the defense where the defenders could not get to in time.  Great play, great awareness.  Davis was standing there because that was where Zach threw it, into the best spot for that play.  

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1 hour ago, GandWFan said:

Watch the play again.  if Davis kept running he would have run into 2 defenders.  Wilson threw into the hole in the defense where the defenders could not get to in time.  Great play, great awareness.  Davis was standing there because that was where Zach threw it, into the best spot for that play.  

I know. I actually  pointed this out in my first post. My point was I would have preferred  to see Zack hit him while he was cutting across the field. He was wide open the whole time. 

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1 hour ago, More Cowbell said:

I know. I actually  pointed this out in my first post. My point was I would have preferred  to see Zack hit him while he was cutting across the field. He was wide open the whole time. 

He looked left first.  Davis must have been the 3rd or 4th read.  Glad he got it to him.  Really hard to complain about a 20+ gain.

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2 hours ago, More Cowbell said:

I know. I actually  pointed this out in my first post. My point was I would have preferred  to see Zack hit him while he was cutting across the field. He was wide open the whole time. 

Davis was not the designed 1st or 2nd read on that play. 

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What you want in 2021 is a rookie Qb who can at the same time learn the position but put us in a position to win games. We don’t want another 3-5 win season. Or a QB like Darnold was last year who can on his own make so many bad plays that lead to losses. I thought last season he was responsible for some of those Ls. Give him an easier game plan that he can be successful in and hope the other talent like Davis makes plays for him. And he doesn’t make too many mistakes esp against good defenses. And there will be much pressure a lot more than he’s seeing now. So far IMO he looks like the best of all these supposed franchise Qbs we’ve drafted. 

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54 minutes ago, GandWFan said:

He looked left first.  Davis must have been the 3rd or 4th read.  Glad he got it to him.  Really hard to complain about a 20+ gain.

It was awesome.  He dropped back like he was throwing left.  He actually made a fake to the left middle before he opened up and threw it to Davis.  Davis may well have been wide open becuase of the way Zach sold it to the D?

It was a great design.  Zach sold it completely and had the arm and quickness to open up and make the throw.  That's why he moved up draft boards.   

 

 

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13 minutes ago, jetsons said:

Davis was not the designed 1 or 2nd read on that play. 

Nobody but Zach and whoever called the play actually knows that for sure. Even if he was the third read i think the ball should have come out faster. I think overall he did fine, I'm jist being critical of one play. It could have been better. 

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I think intriguing how he went from playing opponents at BYU who 99% don't make the NFL to already looking awesome against 100% of opponents who've made the NFL (backups or not). 

Not only has he been the best Rookie QB thus far but he's also been better than every single NFL QB throughout preseason thus far (experienced veterans and all).

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1 minute ago, Defense Wins Championships said:

I think intriguing how he went from playing opponents at BYU who 99% don't make the NFL to already looking awesome against 100% of opponents who've made the NFL (backups or not). 

Not only has he been the best Rookie QB thus far but he's also been better than every single NFL QB throughout preseason thus far (experienced veterans and all).

Who are also playing against 2nd and 3rd stringers.

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17 minutes ago, More Cowbell said:

Nobody but Zach and whoever called the play actually knows that for sure. Even if he was the third read i think the ball should have come out faster. I think overall he did fine, I'm jist being critical of one play. It could have been better. 

Should have come out faster? Wow he still threw that pass in less around 4 seconds probably. And it was perfect and definitely the third read. Tough crowd, Jets fans.

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16 minutes ago, johnnysd said:

Who are also playing against 2nd and 3rd stringers.

And he's been without 3 starters in Alijah Vera-Tucker (huge LG upgrade), Morgan Moses (big time RT upgrade) and Elijah Moore (biggest playmaking WR since Santana Moss).

While our entire Offense is learning a brand new offensive scheme behind a Rookie OC. 

This kid is awesome and I can't wait to see Trevor Lawrence struggle tonight. 

Has anyone watched 2nd round pick Kyle Trask look absolutely atrocious vs 3rd stringers with a QB Rating in the 30s after two games despite Tom Brady as his GOAT mentor?

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29 minutes ago, More Cowbell said:

Nobody but Zach and whoever called the play actually knows that for sure. Even if he was the third read i think the ball should have come out faster. I think overall he did fine, I'm jist being critical of one play. It could have been better. 

Critical of one play? 

He had a damn near PERFECT 154 QB RATING. 

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7 hours ago, JiFapono said:

I see where you're going but it's not just Zach vs. the defenders, it's his 1's going vs. 2's and 3's.   Corey Davis is in his 5th year, he was the 5th overall pick - he's going to get open every single time vs. 6/7th rounders and UDFA's battling to make the league.  Tyler Kroft made the playoffs in back to back seasons in his 5th and 6th season, he's entering his 7th playing guys who are battling for a roster spot.  Our OL vs. 2nd string DL is a big reason why Zach hasnt faced any pressure.  Vanilla game plans, no blitzing, no scheme, no adjustments, etc.  BYU is much more talented then the teams they play, so this isnt all that much different truthfully. 

Look, if you guys dont realize that Zach facing Za'Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Rashan Gary coming full speed every play with Jaire Alexander and Kevin King is coverage is 100000x different then what Zach saw on Saturday, I dont know what to tell you but I promise, there is a reason they're making millions of dollars and the dudes he's faced are battling for roster spots. 

With all that said, it's perfectly fine to both point these things out and provide some perspective while also being extremely encouraged by how comfortable Zach has looked during his limited action.  This stuff is largely scripted, predetermined, it was nice seeing Zach go from 1 to 2 occasionally but what they're asking of him is not much.  What you should be encouraged by was his comfort level in the offense, legit, nothing else matters.  I'm completely shocked at how he's looked, couldnt have been more wrong about how much work he needed, he looks like a veteran out there but I dont care about the results, I'm talking about how he's carrying himself. 

Good post and I agree with almost all of it, with the exception of the bolded.

Even last year when they played a "cupcake" schedule they played teams like Houston and Boise State who consistently out-recruit BYU -- but Zach has played against teams like Tennessee and USC in the past who clearly have more talent across the board. So while the bulk of his "magical" 2020 season featured inferior competition it's not fair to say that BYU is more talented than all the teams they play. Zach has had games where his team had the short end of the stick.

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4 hours ago, GandWFan said:

Watch the play again.  if Davis kept running he would have run into 2 defenders.  Wilson threw into the hole in the defense where the defenders could not get to in time.  Great play, great awareness.  Davis was standing there because that was where Zach threw it, into the best spot for that play.  

Yeah that’s what I thought I saw. 

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5 minutes ago, Defense Wins Championships said:

And he's been without 3 starters in Alijah Vera-Tucker (huge LG upgrade), Morgan Moses (big time RT upgrade) and Elijah Moore (biggest playmaking WR since Santana Moss).

While our entire Offense is learning a brand new offensive scheme behind a Rookie OC. 

This kid is awesome and I can't wait to see Trevor Lawrence struggle tonight. 

Has anyone watched 2nd round pick Kyle Trask look absolutely atrocious vs 3rd stringers with a QB Rating in the 30s after two games despite Tom Brady as his GOAT mentor?

Not sure about Moses. I still expect Fant to start. 

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His mechanics look good, he is in control, he sees the entire field, and he can hit the entire field. Those are observations, not conjecture or bullsh*t. Regardless of who he's playing, those are just observations. We have watched Darnold, Sanchez, and Geno miss wide open guys because they didn't even see them or get that far into their progressions. This kid is already making those reads and throwing to them. 

 

Hopefully he keeps progressing, but what we've seen are POSITIVES. We can't force other teams to play their starters  so we have to wait and see.

 

Enough is enough. You guys just looking for something to cry about.

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8 minutes ago, johnnysd said:

Not sure about Moses. I still expect Fant to start. 

Did you watch the right side of our O-Line last year?

Did you notice how atrocious it was due to George Fant ranking 62nd/62nd and dead last amongst all OTs last year? 

Do you remember us fans screaming at Adam Gase to run left behind Mekhi Becton because Fant stunk at RT? 

Do you remember pass rushers such as Joey Bosa running away from Becton in order to use and abuse and take advantage of Fant @ RT? 

Because I do. 

 

 

Those are two games of Morgan Moses physically dominating A.) The best edge rusher in all of Football in T.J. Watt and B.) Completely eliminating a fierce pass rusher in Shaq Barrett from a playoff game. 

Joe Douglas didn't bring Morgan Moses with 96 consecutive starts @ RT as a top tier RT in order to sit behind a career backup who's only useful off the bench as a 6th OT or swingman (whatever the fk it's called) in George Fant who ranked dead last 62/62 amongst all starting OTs last year and got both Sam Darnold and Joe Flacco damn near destroyed with QB hit after QB hit (and there are no highlight videos of 2020 Fant as a Jet for a reason dude).

 

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1 hour ago, johnnysd said:

Well let's assume Zach is a FQB. What would one expect from a franchise QB against mostly 2nd stringers? That he would dominate.

Zach has dominated. Pretty simple.

Will the regular season be more difficult, sure. But to act like Zach in his 2 starts has not exceeded any reasonable expectation is just being obtuse.

None of this makes it a lock he will be good this year, but there are many exceedingly positive signs with Zach. And no his plays are not pre-scripted. Anyone actually watching will realize he is making the right reads and sometimes going to his 3rd read in the progression.

 

"Anyone actually watching" - sigh.  

Do you know what scripted means?  Not trying to be a dick but it just seems maybe you dont.  All it means is they knew the first 10-15-20 plays they were going to run.  Making reads/plays and going through progressions are still necessary, just because it's scripted doesnt mean it's autopilot, snap your fingers and everything works.  It just means they practiced those 20 plays because they wanted to see them executed in the game not because they thought this call would work vs. this look, this blitz, this coverage, this player, etc. That's not how the preseason works. Anywho, Zach executed damn near flawlessly, which is all you can ask for, it's not a knock.  It's a compliment.  

 

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1 hour ago, UntouchableCrew said:

Good post and I agree with almost all of it, with the exception of the bolded.

Even last year when they played a "cupcake" schedule they played teams like Houston and Boise State who consistently out-recruit BYU -- but Zach has played against teams like Tennessee and USC in the past who clearly have more talent across the board. So while the bulk of his "magical" 2020 season featured inferior competition it's not fair to say that BYU is more talented than all the teams they play. Zach has had games where his team had the short end of the stick.

I meant to say "last year" in my post but fair enough. 

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