A great defense can help Zach Wilson, according to Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas
Nearly two months removed from the New York Jets‘ last game of the 2021 season, offseason discourse is (and has been) in full swing.
Amongst fans, one of the more popular potential strategies for this offseason is surrounding franchise quarterback Zach Wilson with as much talent as possible. And for most interpreting that phrasing, that plan would seemingly revolve around Wilson’s offensive line and skill position weapons.
However, during pre-Combine press conferences on Wednesday, Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas stressed the importance of what a good defense can do for a young QB, which could potentially hint at their plan heading into the offseason.
“If you’re asking Zach to play quarterback in the second quarter because you’re in the middle of a shootout, again, that’s not good for Tom Brady. That’s not good for anybody,” said Saleh. “Having a better defense and improving on defense is at the front of our minds.”
Later on in the day, Douglas added to Saleh’s points: “I think there’s a lot of ways that we can help our young quarterback. I think you saw it this year. When a young quarterback is playing with a 14-point lead versus trying to come back from a 14-point deficit, if we can put pieces around him to make sure he has a lead instead of playing from behind, young quarterbacks are gonna be in a better position to succeed.”
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While neither is stating that defense must be the priority over offense, both Saleh and Douglas are making their mindset clear: there’s more to a young QB’s success than giving him an elite offense. Defense (and stopping games from becoming shootouts) is just as important.
Picking at No. 4 and No. 10 overall in the first round of the NFL draft, the Jets are in a phenomenal spot in terms of how much they can improve their team. At the same time, the dialogue surrounding what to do with those picks can get spicy from time to time.
For example, many fans and analysts have been reluctant to consider players like Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton or LSU’s Derek Stingley Jr. as potential options, as they wouldn’t directly help Zach Wilson on the offensive side of the ball.
With these new statements from Saleh and Douglas, however, it’s clear to see that these prospects are, at the very least, in play.
“Whether it’s improving the defense, adding a skill guy, improving the o-line, adding a tight end… it doesn’t matter,” said Saleh. “Everything that we do, no matter what decision we make, we feel like it’ll be indirectly or directly improving the quarterback.”
If your preconceived notion was that the Jets will take two offensive players in the first round… it may be time to consider something different. And that goes for those of you pumping out daily mock drafts, too.