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Zach Wilson’s coach compared his rookie struggles to those of this MVP candidate

Buffalo’s Josh Allen had a similarly rough start to his NFL career, and now the Bills quarterback is an MVP candidate

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) stands on the field after an NFL football game between the New York Jets and the Atlanta Falcons.
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) stands on the field after an NFL football game between the New York Jets and the Atlanta Falcons at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in London, England, Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021.
Alastair Grant, Associated Press

Nowadays, Josh Allen is leading an explosive Buffalo Bills offense and is a strong contender for this year’s NFL MVP award.

Meanwhile, Zach Wilson is struggling through the first month and some change of his NFL career with the New York Jets.

Wilson’s coach, Jets first-year head man Robert Saleh, sees some similarities between the two quarterbacks, though. More specifically, Saleh pointed to how the numbers from Allen’s and Wilson’s first five games as a pro are strikingly similar, in painting a picture of hope and patience for his rookie quarterback out of BYU.

“It’s not easy being a rookie quarterback, never has been, never will be,” Saleh said Monday, per the team’s website. “Josh Allen the first five games of his rookie year, the numbers were the same as what our guy is going through. I know it can be frustrating sometimes, but it’s going to start clicking. It’s a roller coaster ride and you have to take the good with the good, and the bad with the bad.”

Wilson and the Jets are off to a 1-4 start this season. Here’s his stats line during that stretch:

  • 57.3% completion rate.
  • 223.4 passing yards per game.
  • 6.5 yards per attempt.
  • Four touchdowns.
  • Nine interceptions.
  • Two fumbles.
  • 18 sacks.
  • 62.9 QB rating.

In 2018 as a rookie, Allen led the Bills to a 2-3 record in his first five NFL games. Here are his stats during that stretch:

  • 55.7% completion rate.
  • 151.6 passing yards per game.
  • 6.1 yards per attempt.
  • Two touchdowns.
  • Five interceptions.
  • Four fumbles.
  • 18 sacks.
  • 62.5 QB rating.

“We’re always looking at ways to simplify things for him,” Saleh said of Wilson. “At the same time, we can’t help with the speed of the game and the change of schemes. There are things he’s seeing every week, things he has to get better at seeing.”

Wilson and the Jets are on a bye this week. Since that similarly inauspicious start, Allen, now in fourth NFL season, has turned into one of the game’s top quarterbacks, sports a 32-16 record as a starter and has the Bills among the top Super Bowl contenders this season.

When asked about Saleh’s comment, Wilson stressed he understands the need for patience while not refusing to make excuses for his struggles.

“To an extent, I don’t want to have to make an excuse for myself of my not getting the job done. I understand it’s a process and having perspective, but I also have high expectations for myself and my ability to make plays,” Wilson told reporters Tuesday.

“I understand Josh Allen’s gotten really good with just being able to get more reps and getting used to the NFL game. He’s super talented and a very confident player. I know that time will come for me, and I just need to keep working and getting better. Of course, I need to be patient but I have high expectations for myself.”