‘Much Improved’ Zach Wilson Of 2023 Produces Like Benched Zach Wilson Of 2022

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The Narrative Industrial Complex insisted the New York Jets were going to be fine. After Aaron Rodgers tore his left Achilles tendon last Monday night, we were all told backup quarterback Zach Wilson was going to be good enough.

The NIC insisted the Jets’ season could continue on a playoff arc because it believed what the experts were saying. And the experts were extolling Wilson’s vast abilities.

“I know one thing, with support and love and belief, that kid will flourish,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake told the New York Post. “I’ve seen him do that.”

Rodgers said he was “very confident” Wilson would play well in his absence.

ARLINGTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 17: Zach Wilson #2 of the New York Jets warms up before kickoff against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on September 17, 2023 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Glad Tiding About Zach Wilson Fade

Everyone in the Jets organization who was asked — head coach Robert Saleh, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and players — spoke about how much better Wilson had gotten this offseason and how confident they were in him going forward.

“All the confidence in the world,” star receiver Garrett Wilson said.

Well, what did we expect them to say?

“We got no shot?”

But, of course, they’ve got no shot.

The truth is Zach Wilson may be developing and improving. But that only makes him a developing and improving player. It doesn’t make him, you know, good.

It doesn’t immediately make him a quarterback capable of leading the Jets into the playoffs until Rodgers can return from his injury faster than anyone ever has (another unlikely NIC stretch).

There are going to be some hopeful ups and depressing downs for Wilson this year.

And there will probably more downs than downs than ups unless his defense and offensive line and running game and special teams all play great every week.

ARLINGTON, TEXAS – SEPTEMBER 17: Micah Parsons #11 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts after sacking Zach Wilson #2 of the New York Jets during the first quarter at AT&T Stadium on September 17, 2023 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Jets Dismantled By Cowboys

That should be obvious now. At least to anyone who saw the Dallas Cowboys dismantle the Jets on Sunday, 30-10.

Wilson threw 3 interceptions.

He completed only 44.4 percent of his passes by completing 12 of 27 attempts.

The Jets, facing 10 third-down situations, converted only once. So on the money down that measures an NFL quarterback more than any other, the Jets failed 90 percent of the time.

“Not good, not good,” Wilson said when asked about the third-down percentage.

Wilson blamed himself for not putting the team in so-called third-and-manageable so the offense could convert on third down and stay on the field.

“We can’t go three-and-out,” Wilson said. “You got to sustain drives.”

ARLINGTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 17: Zach Wilson #2 of the New York Jets celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys during the game at AT&T Stadium on September 17, 2023 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Cowboys Dared Zach Wilson To Throw

The shocking thing is the Cowboys, who have one of the premier defenses in the NFL, dared the Jets to pass the football all game long. They basically told the world they didn’t believe Wilson could hurt them.

Dallas lined up with a single-high safety most of the game and instead committed to stopping the run.

“Dared us to throw the ball,” Saleh admitted.

Facing this almost insulting alignment a team would never use against, say, a top 10 NFL quarterback, the Jets could neither run consistently nor throw the ball consistently.

Wilson threw for a modest 170 yards.

And so we go back to the experts to ask what happened?

“Up until we had to force it, I thought he did a nice job,” Saleh said of Wilson. “…That team when you have to get into a drop-back game with those guys consistently it’s not going to be pretty.

“I thought he did a nice job. Obviously late in the game he had to force the ball to try to make something happen. Obviously didn’t go our way. There was a miscommunication on one of his interceptions between him and the back.

“I thought he did a really nice job in the pocket extending plays, scrambling, had a couple of nice off-schedule plays. Just wasn’t good enough…”

GLENDALE, AZ – FEBRUARY 01: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots stands on the field during the pregame warm up prior to playing in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Doesn’t Get Easier For Wilson And Jets

The Jets have played two games with Wilson now and he has thrown four interceptions. That led the NFL going into Sunday night’s game between Miami and New England.

The only quarterback with a lower quarterback rating than Wilson following Sunday’s afternoon action is Carolina’s Bryce Young — a rookie.

To be fair, there is hope Wilson can recover. And improve. That’s still possible.

But, he is a year or two, not a game or two, away from being a proficient NFL quarterback.

And next week the Jets host the New England Patriots. Their head coach Bill Belichick devours developing quarterbacks for lunch.

Follow on X: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

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