Greg Knapp, Peyton Manning
Greg Knapp, Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos, Getty Images

Young worked with Knapp during his final five years as San Francisco’s quarterback.

Steve Young knows about the effect Greg Knapp can have on a quarterback. He laments that Zach Wilson won’t be able to experience it.

Young, a Hall of Fame quarterback turned ESPN analyst, appeared on The Michael Kay Show to discuss the New York Jets’ offensive endeavors in the early stages of the 2021 season.

Discussion, of course, lingered on the progress of Zach Wilson, the Jets’ new franchise quarterback and the second overall pick of last spring’s draft. Wilson has struggled in the early going, throwing a league-worst nine interceptions while the Jets have stumbled to a 1-4 record as they reach their bye week.

Young believes that the Jets had the right idea in hiring Knapp, who tragically passed away when he was struck by a motorist while riding his bicycle near his home in San Ramon, CA. The incident occurred days before Knapp was set to return to the tri-state area for Jets camp.

Wilson’s fellow BYU alum spent the final five years of his NFL career working with Knapp, who held a variety of offensive coaching in San Francisco. Despite his advanced age, Young posted some of the best numbers of his career under Knapp’s watch, including tallies of 4,170 yards and 36 touchdowns during the 1998 season.

Young was one of many illustrious quarterbacks mentored by Knapp, including Peyton Manning, Michael Vick, and Matt Ryan. The former 49er recalled speaking to Wilson’s father about how much Knapp could’ve eased the rookie’s transition into the NFL prior to his tragic passing.

“If it was my son. I would want him to be coached by Greg Knapp,” Young told hosts Michael Kay, Don La Greca, and Peter Rosenberg. “I don’t want to belabor it because you do have this tragic situation, but that just exposed … the neophyte. It exposed a plan that was not in place.”

Young went on to describe the Jets’ offense as “naked” thanks in part to Knapp’s departure as well as the lack of a veteran quarterback. Mike White is currently listed as the team’s primary backup despite not having thrown a single regular-season pass since entering the league 2018 as a Dallas draft pick.

The Jets offense as a whole is overseen by coordinator Mike LaFleur, who is working through the growing pains of his first professional season.

Further into the discussion, Young remarks that Wilson reminds him of Kansas City’s star quarterback Patrick Mahomes “in style and in some of the abilities”. But, Young notes, Mahomes has struggled over the past few games with his footwork, something that has likewise befallen Wilson and his accuracy.

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“Footwork is accuracy … it helps you kind of find the right guy, there’s some discipline to it,” he says. “I guarantee if you Greg Knapp was there, there would be way more discipline on the feet.”

Kay asked Young about Wilson’s postgame demeanor, noting that he “sounded down” after the Jets’ most recent defeat in London at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons. The Super Bowl 29 MVP declared that “it’s not a concern unless it’s formative.”

The Michael Kay Show airs weekdays at 3 p.m. ET on 98.7 ESPN Radio and the YES Network.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

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Geoff Magliocchetti is a veteran football writer with years of credentialed experience with the Jets and Giants. Email:
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