Have the Jets finally found their QB of the Future?

Will Parkinson offers his thoughts on Zach Wilson.

It’s no secret that the Jets have been looking for their franchise Quarterback since Joe Namath moved on to the Rams in 1977. There have been flashes of hope–with Ken O’Brien, Boomer Eisasion, Vinny Testeverde, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chad Pennington, Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Christian Hackenberg, and Sam Darnold–but Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh believe they finally have the guy to buck the trend and be the Jets’ franchise QB for years to come. When the Jets traded Sam Darnold to the Panthers back in April, it became abundantly clear that Zach Wilson would be the Jets’ pick at #2 overall. Wilson is an uber-talented player who could have gone #1 overall in a draft, if not for Trevor Lawrence. The Jets feel like they found their guy and are doing everything they can to make Wilson successful. 

There are many reasons why Sam Darnold failed in New York, and the Jets are doing everything they can to avoid repeating those mistakes with Zach Wilson. The Jets do not want to not put everything on Wilson’s shoulders, and their plan of building a strong offensive line and deep receiving corps is one we haven’t seen from the Jets in a very long time. Over the last two off-seasons, the Jets added Mehki Becton, Alijah Vera Tucker, Morgan Moses, and Connor McGovern as new starters to the offensive line. In addition to protecting the young QB, the Jets signed weapons like Corey Davis, Keelan Cole, and Tevin Coleman in free agency, in addition to Denzel Mims and Elijah Moore through the draft. With these weapons and protection, as well as high quality playcalling courtesy of Mike LaFleur, the Jets have totally remade every single unit on offense, which will pay dividends in 2021 and beyond. Suffice to say: Jets fans won’t have to worry about seeing Breshad Perriman, Chris Hogan and Frank Gore anytime soon.

Wilson has received a lot of praise from scouts, coaches, GMs, and players who have turned on the tape or played him in person. Wilson possesses a strong arm, with the ability to change velocities on his throws and change arm angles in a similar fashion to a shortstop turning a double play. He also possess the ability to run, evade rushers, and make plays off platform, which is a must-have in today’s NFL. Lastly, and maybe most importantly, is Wilson’s work ethic and attention to detail. Wilson is always looking to improve both mentally and physically. Physically, he is 6”2 and 215lbs, but his frame looked slight at times and he may have trouble playing 17 games a season. He also trusts his arm and skills so much that it has the potential to get him in trouble on some throws. Lastly, the level of competition at BYU is very different from the level of competition other prospects in the draft like Justin Fields and Mac Jones faced at traditional power 5 schools.

While there are understandable reasons to have a small concern that Wilson can be the guy they think they are getting, the overwhelming support of the pick has given the fan base a ton of hope. “He’s a relentless worker,” said Head Coach Robert Saleh., “And I mean this, there’s guys who watch film, and then there’s guys that watch film almost religiously, and he’s one of those guys.” Every head coach is going to believe in their guys but the praise all offseason from Saleh about not just Wilson’s talent, but his work ethic and commitment to the process, has stood out above all else. Doug Farrar of USA Today mentioned on the TOJ Podcast that “Wilson graded out as [his] #1 QB on the best fit in Shannahan scheme fit evaluation.” This is just another reason the Jets felt like the match between LaFleur’s scheme and Wilson was such a good match. It will give him the ability to reduce the number of reads and get him out on the move, but also allow for lots of play action and deep shots to utilize the big arm of Wilson and speed of guys like Mims and Moore. 

With the hope and excitement around One Jets Drive back to being where it should, it’s imperative that the Jets get Wilson off to a solid start in his career to ease the pressure on him. He should have every tool to be the GUY for gang green and I expect him to get off to a good start. While he’ll struggle at times, I expect people to look at him by the end of the 2021 season to be already the second best QB in the division and make a strong push for ROTY. Wilson is great value on most sports books at +1000 (bet 100 to win 1000) and taking off the Jets hate bias, he still is some of the best value to win the award and really get the fan base expectations sky high. I cannot wait to watch Wilson strap on the pads and look to tear up defenses this fall in green and white.