Mike LaFleur acknowledges the mistake the NY Jets made with Zach Wilson

NY Jets, Zach Wilson, Mike LaFleur
NY Jets, Zach Wilson, Mike LaFleur / Chris Pedota, NorthJersey.com via Imagn

There is no singular individual to blame for the failures of Zach Wilson during his time with the NY Jets, but one person who's received his fair share of heat is offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur.

LaFleur has been the subject of much criticism in recent weeks for the struggles of the Jets' offense as well as the lack of development from the team's second-year quarterback.

On Thursday, LaFleur spoke to reporters and admitted that Wilson would have benefitted from sitting behind a veteran quarterback as a rookie. This admission was notable as it's the first time anyone from the Jets organization has come out and said such a thing.

Wilson's shortcomings over the last two years have been well documented and it seems likely that his time in New York is coming to an end in the near future. Even if he is on the roster next season, it won't be in a starting, or even a backup, role.

LaFleur is the first person from the Jets' organization to take direct responsibility for Wilson's lack of development.

"In hindsight, it probably would've benefited [Zach Wilson] just to sit back and learn a little bit and watch a veteran and just kind of grow in this league -- kind of in the backseat, watching. Get better in practice, get better through the scout team and all that. But that wasn't the course that we went."

Mike LaFleur

Is Mike LaFleur right? Should the NY Jets have sat Zach Wilson behind a veteran QB for a year?

Hindsight is always 20/20 when it comes to sports and life in general. It's easy to suggest in 2023 that the Jets should have let Wilson redshirt his first season in the NFL, but the reality is that such a scenario is very rare in today's NFL.

Teams are always looking to capitalize on the famed rookie contract window. Removing a year from that rookie deal to allow their QB to ride the bench isn't typically something teams prefer to do unless there is already an established starter in place.

The Jets didn't have an established starter. You can point to Sam Darnold or suggest the Jets should have brought in a veteran, but it's really difficult to justify sitting the second overall pick in the draft for an entire year when an organization is looking for progress.

Now, LaFleur has a point and it likely wouldn't have stunted Wilson's development to have him sit for a year. There's a conversation to be had about teams prioritizing maximizing rookie contracts at the expense of developing their young quarterbacks.

That said, it's hard to argue the Jets didn't do more than enough to effectively build around Wilson this offseason.

They paired Wilson with a top-five defense, signed a Pro Bowl guard (who has significantly underachieved, admittedly), added playmakers like Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall to the offense, signed two capable tight ends, etc.

Everyone deserves some blame for Zach Wilson's failures in New York, but ultimately, Wilson failed because Wilson failed.

Perhaps if he sat behind a veteran quarterback his rookie year things would be different. Perhaps the extra time to watch and learn from the sideline would have been beneficial to his development.

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It's a fair argument — one that Mike LaFleur seems to agree with in hindsight.