Heading into the 2021 NFL Draft, Joe Douglas knew its importance for the New York Jets. This was his second draft as the general manager. The opportunity to pick Trevor Lawrence was gone, Douglas had the second pick in the draft would allow him to choose a franchise quarterback. There were three options; Justin Fields from Ohio State, Trey Lance from North Dakota State, and Zach Wilson from BYU. Douglas opted for the latter and drafted Zach Wilson second overall.
Fast forward four years later, Joe Douglas has built a solid team. Except Zach Wilson will not be the one leading it. The team rallied around newly acquired veteran Aaron Rodgers with aspirations of returning to the playoffs. While many languished Wilson for losing his starting job, the demotion is more beneficial than Jets fans realize.
The New York Jets Reclamation Plan for Zach Wilson
Zach Wilson climbed up draft boards during his final year at Brigham Young University. The quarterback led the Cougars to an 11-1 record while throwing for 3,692 yards, 33 touchdowns, and completing 73% of his passes. He showcased his athleticism by running for 286 yards and 10 touchdowns. New York needed a quarterback after Sam Darnold fell short of expectations.
Unfortunately for Wilson, his rookie season was filled with problems. Before training camp, the team dealt with the sudden passing of Gregg Knapp. Knapp’s resume as a quarterback coach and offensive coordinator is expansive. Michael Vick, Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan, and even Steve Young were all coached by Knapp at one point in their careers. First-year coach Robert Saleh would be without his most experienced offensive coach. Zach Wilson finished his rookie season going 3-10 as a starter and threw more interceptions than touchdowns.
Zach Wilson and the team held higher expectations for 2022. Fortunately, the team improved to a 7-9 record with the arrival of future Rookie of the Year winners Sauce Gardner and Garrett Wilson led the way. However, Zach Wilson faltered once again.
A torn meniscus and bone bruise in the preseason opener cut his training camp short. During a four-game winning game streak, his turnover problems and indecisiveness continued to plague the team. Zach Wilson lost his starting job to Joe Flacco after a 10-3 loss to the Patriots. Poor play from Flacco and an injury to Mike White allowed Zach Wilson to regain the starting job, but he failed to impress against the Jaguars in the 19-3 loss. Chris Streveler replaced him during the game. Inactive in the final game of the season, it looked to be the end of Zach Wilson’s time in East Rutherford.
Douglas and Rodgers to the Rescue
If the Jets want to return to the playoffs after a 12-year drought, they needed to find an upgrade over Zach Wilson. To New York’s fortune, Aaron Rodgers grew tired of Green Bay and agreed to a trade to New York. Along with more moves to improve the offense, New York is looking to stake their claim in the AFC. Although the playoffs remain at the forefront, Aaron Rodgers has taken a keen role in helping Zach Wilson. Aaron Rodgers has sung Zach’s praises in the past and truly believes in his abilities long-term. Rodgers has taken Zach under his wing and shared what he’s picked up over his nearly 20-year career. Nathaniel Hackett has also been beneficial in slowing the game down for Wilson.
Zach Wilson Is Putting In the Work
Since the first snap of the Hall of Fame game, Zach Wilson has been a night-and-day comparison to the young man we saw in 2022. He looked more confident in the pocket, progressing through his reads more efficiently, and showcasing the athleticism that made fans hopeful in 2021. Through the first three games of the preseason, Wilson has completed 68% of his passes for 258 yards, one passing touchdown, and no turnovers. He also has 43 rushing yards as well. The limited turnovers have been a refreshing sight from the former second-overall pick. It is unlikely Wilson shall fetch interest in the trade market as of now. Aaron Rodgers hopes to be in New York for two to three seasons. Ideally, Rodgers seems determined to give Zach the starting job when he retires. The tenure of Zach Wilson in New York is not over.
Main Photo: Danielle Parhizkaran – USA Today Sports