Like all young quarterbacks, New York Jets rookie Zach Wilson is testing the boundaries of what he can and cannot get away with in the NFL.
Early in Wednesday’s practice, the BYU product was nearly intercepted by linebacker C.J. Mosley before Wilson bounced back to have a solid session.
Wilson told reporters after practice that he’s learning on the fly each day, not worrying about turnovers in practice, but rather using those lessons to prepare for when games matter.
“Taking care of the ball is 100 percent a quarterback’s job, and one of my goals when I came out here, and I got drafted, was how can I adapt to this NFL game as quickly as I can,” Wilson said, via SNY. “I can’t be afraid to make mistakes, especially in practice. This isn’t a game. This is where I’m learning what I can get away with and what I can’t. So, there’s times, maybe in a real game, where I wouldn’t throw that, but there are times when I’m like, ‘well, let me try right here and let me see what I can get away with.’ As we get closer to a game, you have to start teaching yourself, you know, in that situation, you know what, CJ got a hand on it, you made the play. And so, it’s like, well next time, in that situation, in that same look, I’m going to check the ball down. That’s what we practice for is to be able to play situations out like that.”
That’s the exact mentality and approach Wilson should have to practices, especially early in camp.
It’s easy to get caught up in quarterback turnovers during practices. They’re usually glaring miscues that are easy to compile for onlookers. But training camp stats are meaningless and don’t account for quarterbacks making an effort to try new things and test boundaries.
Wilson, by most accounts, has had an up-and-down camp as he spearheads a rebuilding Jets squad. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reported earlier in the week that the rookie was holding the ball too long during seven-on-seven repetitions, taking far too much time to release the ball with no pass rush.
Head coach Robert Saleh noted this week that some struggles for rookies are to be expected.
“It’s not easy to play quarterback in this league as a rookie, especially quarterback,” Saleh said Monday. “But it is going to get worse before it gets better. But he’s at that point now where he’s going to be able to stack up days. We have the utmost confidence in him and his ability and his ability to figure out the mistakes and correct them and get to a better play.”
Part of the learning process for young signal-callers is to understand the speed of the NFL game, and the defenders he’s facing are far more advanced than what he went up against in college. Based on his comments, Wilson is already processing those lessons.
Saturday’s first preseason action against the New York Giants is Wilson’s first chance to show strides forward as we head toward the 2021 campaign.
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