Earlier this week, New York Jets coach Robert Saleh compared rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, through his first five games, with Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen and what he did in his first five games.
And while the comparison was obviously meant to suggest Wilson, who is struggling, can eventually be very good, it was the wrong thing to do.
Because the comparison reflects poorly on Saleh and his coaching staff.
Here are the numbers on the comparison:
In his first five games, Allen completed 65 of 122 passes (53.2 completion percentage) for 748 yards, with 2 TDs and 5 INTs.
Wilson, through five games, completed 98 of 171 passes (57.3 percent) for 1,117 yards with 4 TDs and 9 INTs.
The real story these numbers tell is the Bills’ coaching staff, managing a young, raw quarterback, tried not to lean too much on their rookie. Allen, who clearly struggled at times his rookie season, was limited to 320 passes in 2018.
And, yes, an injury limited Allen to 12 games instead of 16 that season. But he still averaged only 26.6 passes per game and had 30 or more attempts in only five of his 12 games.
The Jets coaching staff, meanwhile, are managing a young, raw quarterback by asking him to throw a lot. Wilson averages over 34 passes per game, and is on pace to throw 581 passes this season. He’s attempted 30 or more passes in every game he’s played.
This despite the fact Jets coaches should know their kid is not close to fully formed and is going to make a ton more mistakes if they continually ask him to throw so often.
But there’s little indication the Jets are going to draw back on Wilson to save him from himself. In fact, Saleh apparently talks to Wilson about that comparison with Allen to encourage him that a rough start doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way.
Despite the seemingly unlimited pitch count.
“But to an extent, I don’t want to feel like I have to make an excuse for myself of why I’m not getting the job done,” Wilson admitted. “I understand that, and I understand it’s a process and having perspective, but I have also a high expectation for myself and my ability to make plays and all that different kind of things.
“So yeah, of course I understand that, and I understand Josh Allen has gotten really good at just being able to just keep getting more reps and getting used to this NFL game. He’s obviously super talented and a very confident player. I know that time will come for me, and I just need to keep working it and getting better. And of course, I need to be patient, but I have high expectations for myself.”
Maybe it would be good if Wilson had a coaching staff that managed his development as well as Sean McDermott and Brian Daboll and others have managed Allen’s.
Story time with Uncle Aaron Rodgers
In a season that feels like an Aaron Rodgers good-bye (from the Green Bay Packers) tour, the quarterback has routinely told some interesting stories about myriad subjects during his press conferences.
One such subject this week was Chicago — the city, its teams, its fans. Green Bay visits Chicago on Sunday, and this could conceivably be the final time Rodgers visits as a Packer.
So give us a Chicago story, Uncle Aaron …
“I don’t think they’re extremely happy with me. They’re not very cordial most of the time, but I respect that,” Uncle Aaron said. “I respect that it’s a great sports town. They got two baseball teams, a basketball team that I grew up cheering for.
“I don’t know how it was for you guys, but when I was growing up, one of the few channels we had on TV was WGN. So you got to watch, like, Cubs baseball. And some Bulls basketball games, for whatever reason. Naturally, I became a fan because I was a big sports fan, and that was the only thing that was on TV.
“For years when we played down there, I would, the night before, go on a long walk. And often walk to dinner. Mastros is where I would go to dinner for years and years and years in a row.
“And on one of those walks, a random mom and son, even though I was all bundled up wearing a hat because it was freezing, they recognized me. We walked for, I don’t know, four or five blocks together. So that was a nice chance meeting.
“But I’ve always enjoyed the city, enjoyed the fans, even though they haven’t really enjoyed me. That’s fine. I get it. Maybe there’ll be a little more love when my time comes to an end playing here. But I have a lot of respect for the city and the sports fans they got there.”
Thanks, Uncle Aaron. Check back next week.
Josh Gordon and Patrick Mahomes need some time
The Kansas City Chiefs have high hopes for recent arrival Josh Gordon, but Patrick Mahomes knows it’s going to take a minute before he and the receiver, who was signed just last week, get comfortable enough to be dangerous.
“I think as he gets more accustomed to our offense and how we run it and how we do things, I think you’ll see him get utilized more and more over time,” Mahomes said. “His skillset is something not a lot of people have in this world, to be that big, that fast, that strong.
“So I think as you get more comfortable – and you see this in receivers all the time — when they start trusting that what they’re doing is the right thing in that offense, you’ll see him make more and more plays.”
Cornerback talk from the quarterback
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs leads the NFL with six interceptions. He’s had an interception in every game this season except two weeks ago against Carolina — when he had two.
And Sunday, former Alabama teammates Mac Jones will try to avoid being the next victim misfiring against Diggs when the Cowboys visit the New England Patriots.
“He’s a great player, and I got a chance to practice against him a lot at Alabama, and he has a really good feel for the game,” Jones said of Diggs on Wednesday. “He’s very instinctual, very smart, fast, quick, explosive, strong, so he does it all really well. I’m really proud of how he’s been playing, and it’s going to be fun to get a chance to be on the field with him again.”
Diggs apparently picked off Jones in practice some at Alabama, and so the quarterback is aware of his abilities. But will he avoid throwing to Diggs’ side of the field?
“Obviously, you can’t be afraid of anybody or anything like that,” Jones said. “You just have to know where he’s at because you have to respect him, respect his game, respect his knowledge and respect everybody on that defense and that coaching staff because they do a good job in preparation, and it showed up on the tape.”
It is sometimes too easy to forget that some of the signature players in today’s NFL are so young, and because they’re so young, they’re also kind of, well, green.
Take Trevor Lawrence. He was the NFL’s No. 1 overall pick last April. He’s a millionaire many times over. He’s been in the spotlight for years.
And this weekend when the Jacksonville Jaguars play the Miami Dolphins in London, Lawrence will be making his first trip to Europe and only his second trip out of the United States.
“[It’s my] second time [out of the country], [it’ll be my] furthest flight,” Lawrence said. “The furthest flight I’ve been on before this was like four or five hours, so this is the longest one.”
Despite his youth and relative inexperience, Lawrence does see irony in the International Series matchup.
“We’re going all the way to London to play a team from Miami,” he said. “That’s the one thing I thought about, but we’re excited obviously. I haven’t been that many places, especially outside of the country, so it’s going to be really cool and to play a game over there is going to be really exciting.
“I’ve heard about the fan base over there and how whenever teams come to play, they’re always really excited and have a great showing and fill up the stadium. That’s going to be fun to be around that atmosphere, somewhere different. I know we’re excited. Obviously, the main thing is to go and get our first win, go win a game, but we are excited to go
out there and play.”
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