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Willie Colon on working with a rookie QB, the state of the NY Jets’ O-Line

Willie Colon, NY Jets, Interview, Zach Wilson, Offensive Line
Willie Colon, NY Jets, Getty Images

NFL veteran Willie Colon analyzes the New York Jets’ current blocking endeavors

Considering his status as a Bronx native, Hofstra alum, and former New York Jet, it’s only natural to assume that Willie Colon would leave some sort of positive impact on the New York City metropolitan area.

Colon continued to do that this week, as he and several other tri-state area superstars descended upon Demarest, N.J. for a charity golf tournament hosted by CC and Amber Sabathia’s PitCCh In Foundation.

The former offensive lineman joined Michael Strahan, Justin Tuck, Victor Cruz, and the eponymous Yankees pitcher to support a cause that “(enriches) the lives of inner-city youth by raising their self-esteem through educational and athletic activities.”

“I’m home around good people who support me and what I try to do in my common foundation,” Colon told Jets X-Factor of his involvement. “It’s a no-brainer, I don’t even think about it. It’s about being there for when they need me.”

New York Jets, Jets X-Factor

Colon’s arrival in Demarest came hours after his green former employers earned their first win of the 2021 season, topping the defending AFC South champions from Tennessee in a 27-24 overtime decision. It was far-and-away the best outing for the Jets’ offense so far this season: rookie quarterback Zach Wilson threw for 297 yards and two scores while the offensive line allowed him to be sacked only once.

Colon can sympathize and connect with what the Jets are working with on offense. His New York debut coincided with that of another rookie, Geno Smith.

The Jets signed Colon in March 2013 after seven seasons in Pittsburgh (where he won a Super Bowl in 2009), just over a month before they took Smith with the 39th overall pick of the NFL Draft. Colon worked alongside long-tenured Jets linemen D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold in providing Smith protection during his first NFL seasons.

Though metropolitan longevity was not to be, Smith showed promise behind that line, as he was credited for five game-winning drives in his rookie season, tied with Tom Brady for the league lead.

The modern Jets have likewise heralded a new franchise thrower’s arrival with blocking reinforcements. They passed on several elite receiving talents to draft tackle Mekhi Becton with the 11th overall pick in 2020 and traded up with Minnesota to choose guard Alijah Vera-Tucker at 14th overall in 2021.

Colon was pleased to see the Jets following a similar blueprint, remarking that a strong wall is the perfect way to partly relieve Wilson of the gargantuan weight placed on his shoulders.

“You want to get him comfortable early,” Colon, who has worked as an analyst for both Mad Dog Radio and Barstool Radio, said.

“He has the world on his shoulders, so from the official launch standpoint, you want him to go out there and see the field, not second guess himself and you don’t want his confidence to waiver, which is going to happen naturally because of the ups and downs of the game. You just want to make sure that every time he’s out there that he understands that it’s not about what he did last.”

Colon noted that continuity and longevity on the line can play a big role in what the Jets are trying to build offensively. His point was perhaps indirectly proven by the fact that the failed Sam Darnold era featured the current Carolina Panther working with four different centers over his three-year tenure as the Jets’ franchise man.

Colon further explained that such long-term chemistry helped the New York Giants capture a pair of Super Bowl titles in 2008 and 2012.

“The thing about young offensive linemen is that they only get better with time, kind of like wine,” Colon said. “The more experience they get, the more time they play together, the more time to have the understanding that they can be the bell pile to the offensive line, that just opens up their offense.”

Alas for one of the biggest pieces of this reclamation project, those reps have been hard to come by. Becton suffered a knee injury in the Jets’ opening weekend visit to Carolina and has been forced to sit out of the last three games.

Colon nonetheless is enthused by what the blindside blocker has brought to the table so far and offered a glowing analysis of the Louisville alum.

“He’s got size, he’s athletic, moves his feet really well,” Colon said. “He has long arms and he’s explosive at the point of attack. He seems like he loves football, which is so important. You take all those attributes, and you just let him go and let him grow. He can be an All-Pro.”

The Jets (1-3) will return to action on Sunday morning in London against the Atlanta Falcons (9:30 a.m. ET, NFL Network).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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