There are still some hurdles to clear, but NY Jets QB Zach Wilson showed much-needed improvement in win over Buffalo Bills
And more: If Zach Wilson plays consistent football, those New York Jets can go toe to toe with anyone in the National Football League.
First and foremost, let’s clear this one out: Wilson was not a game manager against the Buffalo Bills. He took shots (see: go route to Denzel Mims, first throw of the game) and delivered in crucial moments.
Wilson was not perfect, but he did enough without hesitancy: Precisely what the Jets needed.
Wilson wasn’t a game manager because there was no game to manage. The Jets started down 14-3. There’s no managing an eleven-point deficit. It was Zach Wilson who brought the team back on a well-orchestrated drive before the half (Mike LaFleur also had himself a day), which was finished off by a Michael Carter rushing touchdown.
After that, Wilson played within the Jets’ gameplan: quick, in rhythm throws, alongside a strong fourth quarter ground game, which has been a common theme throughout this season (thank you, Joe Douglas, for Nate Herbig), leading New York to a win.
It is irrefutable that Wilson still has a ways to go. He needs to be better under pressure, first and foremost, and that has to be priority number one right now.
Still, the Jets’ coaching staff has to be more than pleased with how their quarterback played in Week 9. I, for one, a big critic of Wilson thus far this season, believe he took a major step forward with his decision making.
My football background with the quarterback position has always been about one thing: decision-making.
Playing quarterback is about making decisions on every play. Even not making a decision is… making a decision.
For example, deciding not to audible out of play, when you have the freedom to do so, is making a decision. So is choosing to escape the pocket when you can step up, to not throw the ball away when there’s nothing, etc. The best quarterbacks in the NFL are those who are able to give their teams an advantage due to their good decision making.
In sum: A QB can be defined by his decisions. Since he has the ball and reigns of the unit, he’s the one who decides where the unit goes.
It is no secret to anyone that Wilson has had decision-making issues throughout his career. He escapes the pocket when not needed and has thrown inexplicable INTs, for example.
All of that was starting to worry me as a fan (I am impartial in my analysis, but, undeniably, I root for Wilson to be the quarterback this team needs).
With all that being said, Zach Wilson’s performance against the Buffalo Bills was as refreshing as one could reasonably hope.
He still had some misses, yes, but his decision-making was nearly flawless. And that was the main point of his game that needed improvement.
Wilson had two misses that caught my eyes, both on third downs, under pressure: a hook route to Denzel Mims and an out route to Tyler Conklin. Both were clear misses.
Still, both were examples of Wilson identifying the proper matchup and staying in the pocket despite the pressure. That’s growth. And that’s what he needs to build upon.
It’s impossible to guess correctly the cause of Wilson’s struggles: mind, footwork, Mike LaFleur’s play calling (not that one!), nervousness… it’s all related, in a way.
Still, he overcame all that to have a very clean game against this tough Bills front (and defense), making a bunch of good throws that led his team to an upset win.
Now, Wilson just needs to keep it going. Feet on the ground and stay the course: the New York Jets do not need BYU Zach Wilson. They need an NFL quarterback with the talent of BYU Zach Wilson.
And that’s what he needs to give to this organization.
In the video below, I picked a few plays that demonstrate Wilson’s improved decision-making and how his decisiveness impacted everything else: from footwork, to upper-body mechanics, to accuracy.