The New York Jets Got Zach Wilson More Weapons, But He Still Must Take The Next Step To Improve As A Quarterback
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The New York Jets have imported and drafted some talented new players for Zach Wilson to throw and hand off to. Yes, there is no doubt that the offensive weapons are there for Wilson to make a major improvement in year two of his NFL journey.

But make no mistake—no matter how much talent Wilson has surrounding him, Wilson himself will be the biggest factor in determining whether he takes that big leap forward in his sophomore NFL season. Jets head coach Robert Saleh seemed to indicate as much at the league’s owners’ meetings earlier this spring when he discussed how he wanted to see him completely grasp New York’s playbook.

The next three weeks will be crucial for that, as the team conducts its final two weeks of voluntary practices, aka Organized Team Activities (OTAs), followed by mandatory minicamp June 8-9.

Saleh told reporters he would “love to see Zach own the playbook at a faster clip. Not that he wasn’t (last season), typical rookie learning curve. We’re really looking for that recall. Just the fundamentals, all the different stuff that we’re looking for, that’s all going to come. For OTAs, really looking for him to take that step in the right direction with regards to playbook, Football 101, absorbing the scheme so he can play a lot faster.”

Saleh added, “I know he’s been watching cutups and all that stuff. He’s definitely putting in the work.”

When asked to expand, the second-year head coach said, “It’s just the learning curve of football. I learned a long time ago from Gus Bradley that football is three categories, you got 101, 301, 501. The 301 aspect is your fundamentals, your techniques. The 501 is your ability to understand the other side of the ball. But just like college, you can’t get to the 301 level until you’ve mastered 101, which is scheme.

“So, when you see some of those errant throws that he had, that’s indecision and thinking on scheme,” Saleh said. “So, hopefully he comes back this year, masters that aspect of it. … A lot of people saw, when his feet were right, his eyes were right and he knew the play exactly the way it needed to be run, he’d rip it in there and people would be like, ‘Wow, there’s the throw.’ So, it’s just getting more opportunities to have those situations for him and that starts with 101 Football.”

Put another way, once Wilson understands exactly what each read on each play of coordinator Mike LaFleur’s offense is designed to do, he can better understand what opposing defenses are trying to do to him and his receivers. That should enable him to do a better job of reading defenses.

Saleh seemed to walk it back over a month later after the Jets began on-field drills, saying Wilson’s “got a really good early command of the offense and he’s doing a really good job with regards to that. … He’s being a little more vocal. He looks good, he’s getting more comfortable. Obviously, grasping the offense. He’s never had trouble grasping the offense, he was a rookie, he goes through it. He’s much further ahead at this point than he was a year ago, for sure.”

Wilson hasn’t spoken since the day before the NFL Draft, after a free-agency period during which the Jets signed tight ends C.J. Uzomah (Cincinnati) and Tyler Conklin (Minnesota).

“Those were the guys I wanted to bring in as well,” Wilson said. “I’m glad we made that happen. They did a great job with that. I think it’s just going to take our offense to the next level.”

As for himself, Wilson said, “it’s just how efficient can I be? How can I get the ball out of my hands quickly? How can I help out our O-line with my pocket presence? (And) my ability to step up and get the ball out of my hands to our running backs, go down the field to our receivers and let those guys make plays. How can I just be confident within the pocket, be accurate? I think everything takes care of itself once everyone starts doing their own job.”

Especially Wilson himself.

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