The early NFL career of Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson hit a roadblock on Sunday, to the tune of four interceptions in New York’s 25-6 loss to the Patriots. It was textbook from Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who has been known to introduce rookie quarterbacks to the league the hard way.
The 2021 2nd overall pick faced pressure early and often from the Patriots’ front and made many mistakes trying to do too much. Head coach Robert Saleh confirmed this after the game, saying that Wilson needs to take better care of the football.
“It’s OK to play a boring game of football. That’s really it,” Saleh said. “He’s an electric dude. He’s competitive as crap and he wants to win so bad, but sometimes it’s OK to be boring. That’s probably the biggest lesson he can take out of this one.”
Boring is the key word there, and perhaps the best word to describe Wilson’s counterpart, Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones. Jones was 22-of-30 for an economical 186 yards and no turnovers. Jones has zero turnovers through two games, while Wilson has thrown five interceptions, tied with Jaguars rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence for most in the NFL.
Despite the struggles, Wilson maintained after the game that his confidence has not been shaken and that he expected this to happen at some point.
“This is what we signed up for, right?” Wilson said. “There’s going to be games like this — the ups and downs. I just have to remember the situation I’m in. I’m an important piece in this whole thing, and I just have to keep learning and getting better. You have to keep that swag and that mojo every single week.”
You have to admire the attitude that Wilson has shown in the aftermath of Sunday’s debacle, as the morale of many a rookie quarterback has diminished after a rough game. And in Wilson’s case, he is another in the long line of young signal callers who have been chewed up and spit back out by Belichick.
It’s hard not to be reminded of Sam Darnold’s Monday Night Football meltdown in 2019 when he was picked off four times by Belichick’s defense. Jets fans can only hope Wilson’s fate is a better one than Darnold’s and that he will be the QB answer the Jets have been waiting for since Joe Namath.