It’s no secret, Zach Wilson’s rookie season has been full of ups and downs. Wilson has the sixth-highest interception percentage among qualifying quarterbacks this season, he's only thrown eight touchdown passes, and the New York Jets have only managed to win four games. Jets fans everywhere are on the edge of their seats, wondering if Zach Wilson will live up to his sensational collegiate career or if Wilson will simply be another name on the long list of promising young quarterbacks who ultimately flopped in the NFL.
After watching the New York Jets week 17 performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, several things became clear. Zach Wilson possesses the elite arm talent, accuracy, and decision-making that the New York Jets believed he did when they drafted him 2nd overall. Now Wilson always possessed these attributes, but early in the season his flaws greatly overshadowed his strengths. Wilson displayed his weaknesses most during the Jets matchup against the New England Patriots in week 2 when he threw four interceptions. Early in the season, Wilson was unnecessarily aggressive and put the ball in danger. On his first play against the Patriots in week 2, Wilson was instantly under pressure. Instead of checking the ball down to his running back or simply throwing the ball away, he tried to force a pass downfield to WR Corey Davis—the pass resulted in an interception. Wilson forcing the ball downfield quickly became a common theme as he threw eleven interceptions in his first eight games.
Another big issue that Wilson has struggled with during his rookie campaign is staying on schedule. The Jets run a fast-paced west coast offense which necessitates the quarterback going through his progressions quickly. However, Wilson is often hesitant with the ball in his hands, and many times he waits too long to decide where to go with the ball. However, over the past few weeks, Zach Wilson seems to be taking massive steps forward.
Zach Wilson Came So Close To Topping Tom Brady
This past week, Wilson came close to pulling off one of the biggest upsets of the season when the Jets nearly defeated Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. How did Zach Wilson keep this game close and almost pull off a spectacular upset? By staying on schedule with his progressions and taking what the defense gave him—two things that seemed impossible for Wilson less than a month ago. On the very first play from scrimmage, Wilson was instantly under pressure. However, unlike in week 2, Wilson stayed calm under pressure and threw a short check-down pass to his running back to set up a reasonable second down. Later in the game, we saw Wilson throw a quick "out route" to Braxton Berrios which resulted in a touchdown. During week 2, the Jets ran the same play on a 3rd and short, but Wilson never even looked in the direction of Berrios; instead, he forced the ball downfield, into coverage, and the play resulted in J.C. Jackson’s second interception of the game.
However, last week's game against the Buccaneers wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies for Zach Wilson. During the fourth quarter, he made the wrong decision on an option play which resulted in a turnover on downs, giving Brady the chance to lead a comeback drive. But the progress and improvements that Wilson has made throughout the season are undeniable. Wilson seems comfortable in the pocket, he’s happy to take what the defense gives him, and he’s trusting the offense around him.
While there is still a long road ahead for Zach Wilson and the New York Jets, it’s safe to say they are on the right track. Jets fans should be optimistic as the season nears a close—they may finally have "their guy."