LOCALS IN THE NFL

Aikman: Despite Early Struggles, Injuries Still Like Zach Wilson ‘A Lot’

Sep 4, 2022, 5:30 PM
Zach-Wilson-New-York-Jets...
Zach Wilson #2 of the New York Jets walks onto the field prior to the preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on August 12, 2022 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Jets defeated the Eagles 24-21. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Former NFL quarterback and current Monday Night Football analyst Troy Aikman still likes Zach Wilson’s game despite the early struggles and injuries suffered by the second-year signal caller from BYU.

In the week leading up to the 2022 regular season, the three-time Super Bowl champion detailed his confidence in Wilson and discussed how he also faced challenges early in his career after getting selected with the top pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 1989. Wilson was selected by the New York Jets with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

“I struggled as much as any [rookie quarterback] in the history of the game,” Aikman said via ESPN’s Rich Cimini.

Before winning Super Bowl MVP and being named to the Pro Bowl six times, the Cowboys legend started his professional career with an 0-11 record after throwing 18 interceptions and only nine touchdown passes.

During Wilson’s rookie campaign last season, the former BYU gunslinger missed four games because of a knee injury and threw for 2,334 yards, nine touchdowns, and 11 interceptions with a 55.6 completion rate.

The Jets finished the season with a 4-13 record and missed the playoffs for the 11th consecutive year.

Despite the trials Wilson went through as a first-year NFL player, Aikman still thinks highly of the young quarterback’s talent.

“I like Zach Wilson a lot,” Aikman said. “From what I saw of him, I liked him a lot. I expected maybe not to see him struggle as much as he did last year, but I think he’s got a chance to be a really good player.”

The Hall of Fame player turned legendary commentator also highlighted the expectations put on young quarterbacks in the league compared to his time in the NFL.

“We don’t give these guys much of a grace period anymore,” Aikman said. “I don’t know that that’s necessarily a good thing or a bad thing. I think expectations have changed so much because of some of the success we’ve seen from some of these rookie quarterbacks, not only in the last few years. It goes back to a guy like Ben Roethlisberger and what he was able to do.”

In New York’s 2022 preseason opener, Wilson went 3/5 for 23 yards and one interception before suffering a torn meniscus on his only carry. Less than three weeks ago, Wilson underwent surgery to repair the injury. His status for week one is still to be determined and his is out of the Jets’ lineup indefinitely.

Aikman, who also experienced knee injuries during his NFL career, believes Wilson will be able to come back from his most recent setback.

“You’re able to manage it a little bit better than other positions, but it’s still getting comfortable with people around your leg,” Aikman said. “I expect he’ll come off of that and, once he slowly gets his trust back, he’ll be fine.”

The Jets begin their 2022 schedule at home against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, September 11 at 11 a.m. (MDT). The game will be televised on CBS and NFL Sunday Ticket.

Aikman is entering his first season as the lead analyst for ESPN’s Monday Night Football broadcast. The first MNF broadcast this season will be for the Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks game on Monday, September 12 at 6:15 p.m. (MDT) on ESPN and ABC.

About Zach Wilson

Before his time in the NFL, the Corner Canyon High School product had a standout career at BYU. Wilson helped the Cougars to an 11-1 record during his final season in Provo.

Kyle Ireland is a Locals in the NFL Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Yards After College Podcast. Follow him on Twitter (@kyleireland) and Instagram (@kyleirelandksl).

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