You’ve got to love watching the love-hate relationship New York Jets fans are having with Zach Wilson this season.
He’s hot, he’s cold, he’s a bust, he’s a hero.
He’s a franchise savior, a squad project, a critical building block on his way to stardom.
Examining the past month of Jets’ fans/media is like watching Linda Blair’s head-spinning in “The Exorcist.”
In early December you had Wilson’s mother Lisa defending her son, calling one critic “sad” on her Instagram account, saying he needs help because someone must have hurt him early in life.
After Wilson’s outstanding performance against the defending NFL champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the legendary Tom Brady on Sunday, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more loving fan base or a more charmed Gotham City media.
In the loss to Tampa Bay, the former BYU standout became the first Jets rookie to go four games without throwing an interception. In Week 2 Wilson threw four picks in a loss to the Patriots and he has 11 on the season, but just two in his last six games.
That has put him in some numbers similar to the legendary Joe Namath. After the 28-24 loss on Sunday, Wilson has the longest streak by a Jets rookie quarterback in franchise history with eight consecutive games of throwing either one or zero interceptions. That surpasses Namath’s 1965 record of seven games.
Joe Pantorno of AMNY made the Brady comparison: “The rookie quarterback outdueled the greatest of all-time in Brady for 96% of Sunday’s affair. He was poised, he played the smart, boring football that Saleh has been preaching all season. He held onto the football and, for the most part, made the right reads.”
Wilson was 19 of 33 for 234 yards and a touchdown with a QB rating of 89.7 It was his best statistical performance since the upset of Tennessee.
The Jets Twitterverse was filled with praise for Wilson following his performance against Brady.
From @JetsPrime: The New York Jets have found their Franchise Quarterback in Zach Wilson. Since returning from his knee injury he rally has showcased why he was worth the #2 pick improving every week with each play, and (he) is help(ing) to bring a new culture that this franchise hasn’t had in a while.”
Wrote @NewEraNYJets: “I saw improvement from this team and I’m PROUD of them. Zach Wilson also balled out today without his top three receivers and starting running back. If you’re real Jets fans you know we are headed in the right direction.”
In posting a series of Wilson strikes on screens and medium routes @NYJMike mocked critics about Wilson’s accuracy.
Bob Wischusen @ESPNBob gushed, “I know there are no moral victories ... but it’s easy to see Zach Wilson, and most of the younger Jets for that matter, have made a lot of progress in the past month ... the idea of this season was to see the arrow pointing up as the season went on ... and it looks to me like it is.”
Concluded Pantorno, “This was the first inclination that Wilson can, in fact, raise the level of play of those around him — something that is more valuable than gold in the world of football, especially from the quarterback position.
“At this trajectory, Wilson could do plenty of damage when Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, and Jamison Crowder are healthy. But the Jets can take it to another level by fully investing in Wilson at the 2022 NFL draft.”
So, Wilson’s saga in New York continues.
His 52-yard TD run against Jacksonville is the longest in franchise history by a QB.
He’s had his share of mistakes but he’s also shown a remarkable resilience for improving, adjusting and absorbing instruction.
Since his return from a knee injury, he’s had QB guru John Beck at his side.
If Beck is anything, he is a QB whisperer.
And he’s helping Wilson generate some positive momentum.
The fans apparently love it.
Until the Jets lose their final game this weekend.
Then daggers will come out of their scabbards.