New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) attempts to throw the ball against the Houston Texans … [+]
The New York Jets’ 2021 season has returned to one of its original narratives—the development of quarterback Zach Wilson, who returned to action Sunday in the Jets’ 21-14 victory over Houston.
It was an uneven game at best for Wilson, who went 14-for-24 for 145 yards and no touchdowns with one interception and registered a passer rating of 58.5.
He looked as rusty as one would have expected for a quarterback who hadn’t played since suffering a sprained right knee on Oct. 24. The question now becomes whether he can significantly improve over the final six games of the season and show the Jets (3-8) the kind of progress they would like to see heading into the off-season.
That ongoing process will continue next Sunday against Philadelphia (5-7), which is tied for 27th in the NFL with 19 sacks this year.
Not surprisingly, Jets coach Robert Saleh seemed to be grading Wilson’s performance on a proverbial curve the day after the game.
“Was it his best game? No,” Saleh said. “Did he do a lot of things? Did he get comfortable as the game went on? Absolutely. He orchestrated two 13-play drives that led the scores where we were able to lap them. Scored before the half, scored after the half and another eight-plus-play drive. So, he orchestrated three pretty long drives and did enough to win the football game and that’s what’s most important.”
For now, he’s right. But New York didn’t draft Wilson second overall and pay him $35.15 of fully guaranteed money for Wilson to be a game manager. They need to see a good deal more as his injured right knee gets stronger over the last six games of the season.
Wilson understands that, and was harsher on his performance against the Texans than was Saleh.
“No excuses,” he said after the game. “You’ve got to be able to come out and play well. I’ve had this whole time to watch and learn from everybody else. I thought I had my best week of practice, so now I’ve just got to put it to the field and just get better and understand it’s part of the process, and just have that chip on my shoulder.”
One thing to watch for going forward is whether the knee injury has a lingering effect on Wilson not only physically, but psychologically.
Both Wilson and Saleh indicated that although the rookie’s right knee is not 100% healed, he is not risking further damage.
“There’s no limitations,” Saleh said, “to what he’s going to be able to do with regards to running, dropping back, boots (rollout passes), all that stuff.
“We’d never put him on the field if we thought he can get hurt any” worse, Saleh added. “I just know that he has no limitations, …….