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What the New York Jets’ coach thinks about Zach Wilson’s ‘mental horsepower’

As the former BYU standout prepares for his rookie season, the hype machine hasn’t stopped

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson looks one way while tossing the ball the opposite way during NFL football practice.
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson looks one way while tossing the ball the opposite way during NFL football practice on Thursday, May 27, 2021, in Florham Park, N.J.
Kathy Willens, Associated Press

Is all the Zach Wilson hype over the top?

Well, yes.

But it is also the product of a huge East Coast/New York City media market, an emerging story, a fresh face with no NFL losses or failures and a franchise looking for hope.

That all makes for storylines and attention.

As we’ve found out in Utah media circles, there is an insatiable appetite for news about Wilson. You file a story on the former BYU star and No. 2 pick in the NFL draft and it drives traffic. It’s not rocket science.

The latest criticism on the Wilson/Jets situation comes from longtime NFL reporter Peter King, who said the Jets are putting Wilson in a horrible situation. Not with the attention, but by not getting Nick Foles out of Chicago to be his backup as he enters his rookie season.

King made his observation on the “Moose & Maggie” show on WFAN in New York City.

“The Jets should have Nick Foles on their team. He has no place on the Chicago Bears, OK? And it’s ridiculous that he is still a Chicago Bear, and he’s not a New York Jet. That has to happen. … It’s preposterous to think that you should go into the season with Zach Wilson as your quarterback without a quality backup.”

Scrutiny.

It’s all over the place.

As it should be.

In the meantime, Wilson is not disappointing the Jets’ brain trust. As they were told, he is putting on a show in study sessions and his work ethic has become a real thing.

Unfortunately, Wilson’s development took a horrible turn this week when Greg Knapp, hired by head coach Robert Saleh to be the passing game coordinator, was critically injured in California while riding a bike. Knapp died on Thursday.

Knapp and Wilson were developing chemistry and Knapp was pleased with Wilson’s progress.

Knapp told NJ.com in an earlier interview that Wilson was a fast study. “He has done a good job of minimizing mistakes,” Knapp told NJ.com. “You’ve got to expect mistakes from anyone starting the first time in any profession, it doesn’t matter, and I have seen very minimal, same mistakes, twice. He learns quickly from his mistakes, and that is impressive to see from a young guy.

“The vision of his play shows from his basketball days of seeing the whole court/field. What has even been more impressive to me is how quick his feet do move within the pocket or to escape pressure. That to me shows from basketball skills how much he has got the ability to avoid the rush when needed and extend the play.”

New York Jets coach Robert Saleh looks on during NFL rookie camp, Friday, May 7, 2021, in Florham Park, N.J. The Jets coach calls his new QB “a relentless worker.
Bill Kostroun, Associated Press

Saleh has been gushing over Wilson, telling Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated that Wilson’s “mental horsepower” was “off the charts.”

“He’s a relentless worker. And I mean this, there’s guys who watch film, and then there’s guys that watch film almost religiously, and he’s one of those guys. He’s constantly trying to find ways to absorb information and learn. He’s wearing out the quarterback coach with film study. He’s relentless in that regard. His mental horsepower is off the charts.”

Still, Wilson is far from taking a snap in an NFL game.

Does all this hurt Wilson?

Probably not, knowing the way he is and how he handles things — at least on the college level.

It does create some spite, however.

There are buckets of that on social media. It seems it is the mortar between the cyber bricks that permeate the internet these days.

Spite is the science of belittlement by bullies whose hearts are shallow and minds are filled with resentment and cattiness; a desire to hurt, annoy or offend someone.

Wilson rises above that, or at least that’s a front-seat observation the past three years.

He’s got better things to do, like figure out how to look off safeties and confuse linebackers.

The Peter King take is a legitimate observation, made from years of experience and sources — a knowledgable criticism made toward the Jets, not Wilson.

So, is the Wilson hype overdone?

Of course.

But that’s the market. He’s in the fast lane now, baby.

As is the spite.