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Zach Wilson Jets
NFL

Zach Wilson Flashed In Season Debut; Jets Should Be Encouraged

  • Jack McKessy
  • October 3, 2022
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New York Jets second-year quarterback Zach Wilson is back and already leading game-winning drives.

After missing the Jets’ first three games of the 2022 season with a knee injury he suffered in the preseason, Wilson made his much-anticipated return to the field on Sunday. He wasn’t perfect nor incredibly productive from a box score standpoint, but he put everything together when it counted most at the most crucial moments of the game. The result was a 24-20 comeback win on the road, and New York has to be very excited to have their young quarterback back on the field and winning games.

Though the flashy highlight of his game may have been his touchdown *catch* (and Griddy celebration after), Wilson deserves special recognition for the flashes of his abilities as a passer. One of the particular attributes of note was his ability to perform under pressure and extend plays with his legs. 

The Jets’ offensive line was getting bullied up front for a lot of the game, something that was only made worse by the injury troubles they’ve had at both tackle positions. The result was 14 pressures and six quarterback hits from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense on Sunday afternoon, but they only got to Wilson for a sack once. That shows impressive effort from the second-year signal-caller and is especially notable given that he was playing on a surgically repaired knee.

Wilson also deserves tons of credit for what he was able to do in crunch time on Sunday. Despite a difficult start—understandable, given his lack of recent practice time—in which he only completed eight of 24 pass attempts with two interceptions in the first three quarters, he shook off any remaining rust when it mattered most. Wilson’s fourth quarter featured a nearly perfect completion rate—10 completions on 12 attempts—and two long touchdown drives to give New York a come-from-behind win.

There weren’t too many crazy, highlight-level throws on the two drives, but Wilson’s ability to calmly and confidently lead drives of 65 and 81 yards while trailing late was huge for the Jets. Some of the biggest plays from Wilson simply came in the biggest moments: a big third down here, a must-have fourth down there.

The growth not only from year to year but even quarter to quarter on Sunday was apparent for anyone watching. Wilson was doing all of the small things right, overcoming the adversity from pressure in his face and his own turnovers, taking what the defense gave him to make big plays down a crucial stretch, and taking advantage of the opportunities his defense gave him with their four takeaways.

Again, it wasn’t a perfect day for Wilson with his couple of interceptions and lackluster early-game performance, but the young quarterback gave the Jets everything they needed down the stretch. His knee looked more than OK, his arm was great, and the mental toughness to overcome a rough start was clearly there too.

As Wilson continues to shake off the rust from a lack of practice time in the weeks ahead, he should be able to put together better performances early in the game rather than waiting for the fourth quarter. Next week will bring a bigger test of Wilson’s abilities against a strong Miami Dolphins squad, and the sophomore gunslinger will need to get going earlier to keep New York in a position to win. Still, the Jets have plenty to be excited about what they saw from Wilson after he executed well in his return to action and architected a big Week 4 win on the road.

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Jack McKessy