Are the expectations too high for NY Jets QB Zach Wilson?

Zach Wilson, NY Jets
Zach Wilson, NY Jets / Elsa/GettyImages

The NY Jets are returning to where they started this weekend with their rookie quarterback Zach Wilson back at the controls.

Wilson is looking to improve upon his inconsistent play early in the season, and to ultimately prove that he deserves to be the anointed one in the present and moving forward.

Wilson has had his fair share of struggles as a rookie signal-caller this year, joining the club of other high-profile rookie quarterbacks not named Mac Jones.  

However, it's easy to forget how well Wilson played in just his fourth NFL start against the Tennessee Titans. The former BYU standout won NFL Rookie of the Week honors, throwing for nearly 300 yards and two scores to achieve a thrilling overtime victory at home. Wilson made several outstanding off-script plays that tantalized the fanbase and his biggest supporters.

Despite that promising effort, The unfair rap and consensus on Wilson by some since has been that he has been the worst of all the high-profile quarterbacks taken in this year's draft, even though he has only started six games and has shown flashes of brilliance.

NY Jets QB Zach Wilson has become a victim of instant gratification

It's safe to state that in 2021, we live in a prisoner of the moment type society. A year ago at this time, a significant number of people were talking about how Tom Brady was 'washed' after he had a senior-citizen moment when he notoriously threw up four fingers and forgot what down he was playing against the Chicago Bears.

The vitriol got even worse last November for Brady when the Bucs were destroyed by the Saints 38-3 in primetime. Brady, in that contest, threw three interceptions, a little over 200 yards, and zero touchdowns.

Despite having one of the most outstanding track records by arguably any quarterback in NFL history, some people were inexplicably and prematurely slamming the door shut on Brady's career.

Two months later, he conquered Drew Brees and that same Saints team in the playoffs and then inevitably hoisted another Lombardi Trophy when the dust settled in 2020.

If people can jump the gun on a proven commodity like Brady, why wouldn't they do the same for an unproven one in Zach Wilson?

Remember, we live in a world where not too many weeks ago, Sam Darnold was the greatest reclamation quarterback of all time in Carolina, and the Jets defense was a strength of the team.

A lot can change overnight or in a matter of a few weeks.

After setting the world on fire in his first start, Mike White was presumably going to 'Brady' the Jets version of Drew Bledsoe in Zach Wilson.

Some Jets fans, but mostly the media, were playing the 'Jets have a problem on their hands now' card because White was on the verge, according to many, of taking over as New York's long-term answer at quarterback.

It didn't work out that way. Did it?

It's been a rollercoaster ride of Jets quarterbacks since Wilson got injured against New England. But it didn't take long for the team to go back to square one with their rookie franchise quarterback once the Mike White hysteria subsided. It's where the franchise was headed all along.

That doesn't mean that Wilson's absence didn't create doubt about his prospects as a potential top-tier quarterback.

The improved play calling of neophyte offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, thanks to his new overview during games from upstairs in the booth, and the respectable level of play from the Jets trio of quarterbacks in Mike White, Joe Flacco, and Josh Johnson has people questioning how good Zach Wilson really is.

After all, the Jets' improvement on offense has coincided with Wilson's absence. Wide receiver Elijah Moore has emerged as one of the team's most promising young stars while Wilson has been out of the lineup.

The pressure is on Wilson to improve and validate the Jets' belief in him. And now the expectations have intensified because of how well "the other QB's" have played in the Jets' offensive system

To expect Wilson to all of a sudden flip the switch and be great is unfair — but it comes with the territory. Especially considering the circumstances of what has happened with the Jets offense since Wilson departed the lineup.

Many observers who fell in love with Wilson during the draft process fell into the trap of believing that he could have the same impact that Justin Herbert had in 2020. When Wilson wasn't 'Herbert-like' right out the gate, it raised red flags for many who had unrealistic expectations.

Instead of just living with the natural growing pains that most young quarterbacks have to endure as rookies, fans and the media want to see Wilson "get it" and deliver the goods now.

He might show glimpses of greatness as he already did in Week 4, but the truth is that there will probably be more bumps in the road for Wilson.

The entire morale of the Jets franchise hinges on Wilson's performance the rest of the way. For better or worse, his play level will determine whether or not the Jets can have genuine hope for the future.

All of the Jets games are must-watch because of this dynamic. The wins and losses don't matter in 2021 — they never have. Competency is something that the fanbase wants to see from the Jets.

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But what matters most is how Zach Wilson plays down the stretch, in a season that won't be a lost one if he finds his way.