YARDS AFTER COLLEGE

Jets QB Zach Wilson Must Improve During Second Half Of Season

Oct 31, 2022, 4:06 PM | Updated: Nov 5, 2022, 11:31 pm
Zach-Wilson-New-York-Jets...
Zach Wilson #2 of the New York Jets reacts at the line of scrimmage during the first half against the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium on October 30, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Former BYU and current New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson needs to show more improvement as the 2022 NFL season hits the midway point.

The noise is always loud for team’s in New York or in the Jets’ case, East Rutherford, New Jersey. When New York team’s struggle or players fail to produce to levels of expectation, sometimes unfair, that noise gets even louder.

When the Jets selected Wilson out of BYU with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the clock started ticking for the Corner Canyon High product to show if he was deserving of all the praise that came with his draft spot.

In 2020, Wilson had a breakout junior season for the Cougars. While many programs in the United States weren’t playing college football or delayed the start of the season because of COVID-19, Wilson and BYU were on the gridiron for what ended up being an 11-1 campaign. When BYU opened its season against Navy, there was little buzz about the signal-caller going to the NFL half a year later. Things quickly changed as the Cougars racked up the wins and Wilson was slinging the ball effortlessly around the field for touchdowns.

 

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In April 2021, the Jets picked the Draper, Utah native as their quarterback of the future. As is the case with most NFL rookies, ups and downs occur on the field as they get acclimated to the speed of the professional game. Wilson experienced those highs and lows as a first-year player.

During Wilson’s rookie campaign, he threw for 2,334 yards, nine touchdowns, and 11 interceptions with a 55.6 completion rate. Wilson also missed four games in the middle of the season after suffering a knee injury. The Jets finished the year with a 4-13 record for two more wins than they had during Wilson’s final year at BYU.

This offseason, hype began to build around Wilson and the Jets. Could the quarterback take the cliché second-year leap? After all, Wilson had two offseasons under his belt, 13 regular season games, and tons of film study. What could go wrong and prevent improvement from happening? Week 1 of the preseason happened.

On August 12, Wilson and the Jets hosted the Philadelphia Eagles for the first exhibition of the 2022 preseason. Near the end of the first quarter, Wilson scrambled for about seven yards before tumbling to the turf with a non-contact injury. That injury ended up being another knee injury, this time a torn meniscus and bone bruise. The trauma forced Wilson to undergo surgery and miss the rest of the preseason as well as the first three games of the regular season. The promising start to his sophomore season in the NFL was quickly halted for Wilson.

Fast forwarding to Week 4 — Wilson returned for the Jets after Joe Flacco led New York to a 1-2 start. The former BYU star helped the Jets beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in his return and even their record at 2-2.

If you only looked at New York’s record, you’d think things were going great for Wilson and his teammates. After the Jets beat the Steelers, they won three more games in a row before falling to the New England Patriots at home in Week 8.

Currently, Wilson and the Jets own a 5-3 record. Not too shabby, right?

After the loss to the Patriots, Jets Nation was irate, understandably so. After all, Bill Belichick has owned New York for two decades. However, many fans are putting the blame on Wilson and raising questions about his long-term future with the franchise. Some of those questions are fair, I believe.

Nobody should’ve expected Wilson to shake off the rust in Week 4, but it’s now past Week 8 for the Jets and Wilson needs to start showing improvement.

During the loss to the Patriots, Wilson threw for a season-high 355 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw a season-high three interceptions and his lowest quarterback rating of the season, 24.1

In three of his five games played in 2022, the second-year signal-caller has failed to throw a touchdown pass, and in two of those games, Wilson threw for fewer than 125 yards.

His season-high QBR is 55.3, which came in his second start, a win over the Miami Dolphins.

Some of Wilson’s statistics are due to the three games he missed. However, Wilson currently ranks 28th in the league in passing yards, tied for 32nd in passing touchdowns, tied for 16th in interceptions, and ranks 24th for QBR.

All isn’t lost for Wilson and the Jets, who sit in second place in the AFC East and are still two games above .500.

But the young quarterback needs to show improvement during the second half of the season, especially when it comes to decreasing his turnovers and increasing his passing yards and touchdowns thrown.

If he doesn’t, the noise will only continue to get louder, just like it has with fellow second-year quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Mac Jones (Patriots).

New York’s next game is at home against the Buffalo Bills (6-1) on Sunday, November 6 at 11 a.m. (MDT). The game will be televised on CBS. Following the Bills game, the Jets have a bye week in Week 10.

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

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