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NY Jets hoping for a 'Josh Allen-like leap' out of Zach Wilson

By Kristen Wong
NY Jets, Zach Wilson
NY Jets, Zach Wilson / Al Pereira/GettyImages
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The NY Jets have so far kept their faith in quarterback Zach Wilson but need to see massive improvements from him in Year 2.

Wilson stumbled through a rough rookie season that saw him throw nine touchdowns against 11 interceptions with a 55.6 percent pass completion rate.

In 2022, Wilson should benefit from major upgrades to the offensive line and receiving corps and will look to achieve as much Year 2 success as another starting quarterback in the league.

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen also got off to a rocky start in the NFL back in 2018, recording roughly similar numbers to that of Wilson in his rookie season. Then, Allen improved in 2019, throwing 20 touchdowns against nine interceptions and increasing his pass completion rate by six percent, before exploding in 2020.

Could Wilson be due for his own sophomore breakout campaign?

ESPN's Rich Cimini wrote up a brief training camp preview and asked one very important question to his readers: "Can Zach Wilson thrive within the structure of the offense?"

Cimini discussed parallels between Wilson's and Allen's early years in the league and relayed Jets coaches' optimism about Wilson's ability to take a much-needed leap in his career.

NY Jets desperately need quarterback Zach Wilson to succeed in Year 2

"The Jets are hoping Wilson can duplicate Josh Allen's career trajectory... Typically, quarterbacks that struggle that much as rookies don't skyrocket to stardom. Allen was an outlier; the Jets' entire rebuilding plan hinges on Wilson being able to do the same."

Rich Cimini

Heading into training camp, Wilson will need to prove he has a better command of the team's offense and can generate chemistry with his supporting cast.

The young offensive core of Elijah Moore, Garrett Wilson, Michael Carter, and Breece Hall will play a crucial role in helping Wilson become a consistent starter under center, though Wilson himself will have to work on cutting down the turnovers.

The signs of improvement are there — in the final five weeks of the 2021 season, Wilson didn't throw a single interception. Suffice to say, Wilson can't start 2022 the same way he started 2021 with a whopping nine interceptions in the first six games, and keeping the ball safe should be his highest priority this season.

For most young quarterbacks, change comes slowly. It took Allen three years before he earned his first Pro Bowl and established himself as an elite franchise quarterback; in 2020, Allen was slinging the ball for 4,000-plus yards and 30-plus touchdowns, and he made a deep postseason run that year as well.

Wilson may not be able to completely follow Allen's skyrocketed path into stardom, and even making the playoffs feels like an insurmountable feat for the young quarterback right now.

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But Wilson hasn't run out of chances yet, and New York could very well see a changed man under center in 2022.

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