Zach Wilson, Film, Highlights, Bucs, Throws, New York Jets
Zach Wilson, New York Jets, Getty Images

Todd Bowles’ confusing ways weren’t enough to stop Zach Wilson from a breakout game

It’s getting repetitive: Every week since No. 2 came back from injury, I come here to proclaim that Zach Wilson has had his best game as a pro.

Still, as repetitive and cliche as it sounds, it’s true.

The New York Jets‘ young quarterback is trending upwards. Wilson is showcasing weekly progress since making his return from a knee injury against the Houston Texans in Week 12.

Nonetheless, none of Wilson’s good performances (Jacksonville, Miami, Philadelphia) come close to matching what No. 2 did against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Wilson’s jaw-dropping throws would be impressive against any defense in the league, undoubtedly. Having said that, delivering those throws against a Todd Bowles defense (and without any of his top targets) made Zach’s performance much more enticing.

Early in the season, Wilson’s biggest problem was confidence. The signal-caller simply didn’t trust what he saw.

That distrust made Wilson hesitate, which hurt the entire offense since the passing concepts in offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur’s scheme are built on timing and rhythm. Wilson’s hesitancy was handicapping everything the Jets tried to build through the air.

Considering that, one could think that a Todd Bowles defense would be the worst-case scenario for Wilson. On paper, Bowles runs the perfect scheme to make Wilson revert to his bad habits. I won’t lie: I thought Wilson would have his issues against Bowles.

Bowles prides himself in being aggressive above all, but the former Jets head coach also likes to confuse. Moreover, he is a great pressure simulator, often showing confusing looks for quarterbacks to decipher.

Dealing with backup linemen and receivers is already something that hurts confidence-wise. A defense that could confuse Wilson pre-snap could be a killer to the rookie’s good stretch.

Still, none of it mattered. Wilson didn’t flinch.

Zach Wilson is not the same guy he was 10 weeks ago. He’s simply a different player now. Readier, more experienced, and a lot more confident in what he’s doing.

Wilson understands the scheme and its down-to-down philosophies. He knows when he can force the ball, when he should get rid of it, and the timing of every concept.

Most importantly, Wilson now believes in the players around him – backups or not. That stops him from thinking twice before executing anything.

It’s just plug-and-play.

Wilson has settled down from his rough stretch. The Buccaneers game cemented that.

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There are no guarantees in football, especially when developing quarterbacks, but denying Wilson’s growth would be bad faith.

No. 2 is on the right path, and an entire offseason learning this offense can make all the difference in 2022.

It’s almost impossible not to compare Wilson’s late-season resurgence to Sam Darnold’s in 2018. I understand it, but Wilson’s late-season burst is much more nuanced than Darnold’s was.

First and foremost, Wilson’s throws are much more impressive than anything Darnold did in late 2018. The Jets’ new young QB is challenging windows and processing the game quickly now.

Darnold made some good throws in late 2018, but most of his wow plays came in his favorite style: backyard, out-of-the-pocket football.

Besides that, think about the fact that the current Jets quarterback has something Sam Darnold never had: stability. Wilson will have LaFleur, Rob Calabrese, Matt Cavanaugh, John Beck, and Co. back with him next season.

And possibly for years to come.

That will make Wilson’s growth much more smooth (and, to a degree, “guaranteed”).

Jets fans should be excited.

Full Zach Wilson (NYJ-TB) film review

Below, you can see this week’s Sidearm Session, where I break down some of Wilson’s best throws against Tampa Bay.

Timing, accuracy, and velocity – those are the words that best describe Wilson’s passes vs. Todd Bowles’ championship-winning Buccaneers defense.

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A former quarterback, Vitor Paiva wants to showcase a deep analysis of what's really happening on the field, showcasing what's really on the mind of a football player during a play, in his Sidearm Session. Email: vitorpaivagon[at]
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1 year ago

Thanks Vitor, seems as though he’s doing much better with play action now too.

1 year ago

Vitor, great breakdown as usual. I always love your stuff. I have been a well documented doubter of Zach but you are 100% correct, Zach looks like a real rookie NFL QB, with a promising future. Not enough is being made of him leading the team to a win against Jacksonville and having this team on the doorstep of a victory vs. Tampa with the decimating injuries. If this were another rookie ESPNquirer would be praising him at vomit levels. I’ll give you one guess who that is…..

I do disagree with you about the coaching scenario. I think they have to clean up the “Beck, Cavanaugh, Calabrese pairing. They need a true passing game coordinator and less people in Zach’s ear. I don’t see Beck or Cavanaugh staying with the team. Cavanaugh, was a stop gap guy, and Beck will want to focus more on his own thing. I don’t know who they get but they need a pro coach, maybe someone who was a HC to help the passing game and coach Wilson. Calabrese just doesn’t have that experience and the the WR’s need the help too. I think Miles Austin can use some support. If they can find the right guy this offense could really take off. I have been clamoring for Gary Kubiak, someone pointed out he may be retired for good and is a Texas guy so probably won’t happen, but that is the kind of coach they need to finish off this offensive staff. Maybe Jim Caldwell?