1. NY Jets QB Zach Wilson must show that he can bounce back from adversity
Saying all the right things is great, but doing them is a whole other story.
After last week's meltdown against New England, Zach Wilson was apologetic for his poor performance against the Patriots, and he promised to learn from his mistakes. He blamed himself for the team's loss and told the media that the fans were correct in booing him.
It was exactly what you wanted to hear from Zach Wilson. The problem is that one of the things that made Zach Wilson the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and the apple of a lot of people's eyes as a quarterback prospect, is his confidence.
Wilson's game at BYU was about confidence in his ability to make spectacular plays happen using his mobility and elite arm talent. The knock on Wilson was his propensity to play "hero ball."
Early in his very young NFL career, Wilson has already shown flashes of his ability to make heroic plays happen. He has otherworldy throwing skills, and he knows it. Therein lies the problem.
Wilson's throw-it-up-there playing style has even taken his receivers off guard. After reviewing Wilson's interceptions against New England, it looked like Wilson was expecting Corey Davis and others to make spectacular plays on the other side of his throws.
It's something that Wilson's receivers at BYU became accustomed to over time. To paraphrase a line from Marty McFly in Back to the Future, the Jets wide receivers aren't ready for that yet.
Asking Wilson to tone his game down might be a whole new way of operating for him as a quarterback. Can he play it safe and still maintain what makes him unique? Learn how to pick his poison.
After Sunday's loss to New England, the defensive coordinator mentality of Robert Saleh came out when he told the media that Wilson needs to learn that it's ok to play "boring ball." Saleh publicly implored his rookie QB not to try and force the issue, looking for big plays.
Once upon a time, the Jets had a first-round quarterback in Chad Pennington, who was a master at playing boring ball. He didn't have the throwing talents of Zach Wilson, but Pennington had high accuracy on passes down the field, and that was because he was exceptional at picking his spots.
Pennington knew when to throw the ball, and more importantly, when not to. He was a great student of the game.
Wilson has been praised heavily for his work ethic and study habits by everyone around him. But until he shows that he can craft his madness into method, there will be more Sundays for Wilson like the last one.
Sunday is Wilson's biggest test thus far as an NFL quarterback. He's facing an excellent defense on the road, a week after a humbling performance in his home debut. Can he bounce back and learn from his experience, or will the growing pains continue?
If Wilson does get up off the mat and turn things around this quickly, then it might be the first sign that the Jets truly got the right quarterback to lead their franchise into the light.
If he doesn't, then it will be just another step through the darkness.