Zach Wilson is checking off plenty of boxes in the middle of his first offseason in the NFL.
Wilson has made a concerted effort to connect with his New York Jets teammates, especially the receivers and backs. He’s gone to Florida for pass-catch sessions. He’s taken time off to recharge as a distraction from it all. He’s continued to link up with social media to keep Jets fans tuned in to what he’s up to.
And more importantly, he’s getting positive feedback from future teammates as the Jets go after weapons to help in 2022.
Some of the praise comes from a future Jets defensive player, Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Jordan Whitehead.
Quoted by Rich Cimini in a piece on ESPN.com, Whitehead described in detail a play in which the Bucs defense had the read, the play, and Wilson pegged before the snap. It was a simple coverage reaction that should have resulted in an interception.
Instead, Wilson threw a pass over the heads of two linebackers and between Whitehead and a cornerback, resulting in completion to Keelan Cole at the 1-yard line to set up a touchdown.
Writes Cimini: “Whitehead, who went from the GOAT (Tom Brady) to a kid, is counting on Wilson to make a massive jump after an underwhelming rookie year. So are the other members of the Jets’ free-agent class. They have seen glimpses of his potential, as Whitehead witnessed firsthand last Jan. 2. And, of course, they know his draft pedigree (second overall in 2021). Hence, the optimism.”
Pro Football Focus projects the Jets will take Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner No. 4 and then make an interesting pick for a recovering Alabama wide receiver Jameson Williams (ACL tear) at No. 10.
Here’s PFF’s reasoning for getting Williams as a Wilson target:
“Williams brings a game-changing degree of speed to the table. He could be a healthy version of Will Fuller, whose impact is felt far in excess of his individual production because of how he changes coverages. Williams can torch defensive backs with speed, but he also has a much greater sophistication to his route running than most when given that speed advantage. He could transform a Jets receiving corps that will be better across the board for his presence.”
Then there’s the speculation that Jets general manager Joe Douglas may trade part of Manhattan and try to get “disgruntled” 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel. It would take a pile of coin to get this done but Samuel is one of the most explosive pass-catchers in the league and he’s looking for a scheme that better utilizes his superpowers.
In a Jetswire section of USAtoday.com, Tyler Calvaruso makes the case for Douglas doing some dealing for Samuels: “The Jets profile as primary players to land Samuel for an assortment of reasons. New York isn’t anticipating the star wideout will be traded for anything less than a “king’s ransom,” per CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson, but Joe Douglas already made a run at Tyreek Hill earlier this offseason. A pursuit of Samuel could very well be in store for Gang Green.”
In the meantime, Wilson has spent time in Southern California with QB guru John Beck and made stops in Miami to work on timing with receiver Braxton Berriosand running back Michael Carter. He’s traveled to Nashville for a session with receiver Corey Davis before going to Arizona to work out with receiver Elijah Moore.
Highest accurate pass percentage throwing into tight windows.. (PFF)— Adam Carter (@SmartfootbalI) April 20, 2022
1. Justin Herbert, 35.2%
2. Ryan Tannehill, 32.9%
3. Kyler Murray, 32.4%
4. Zach Wilson, 32.1%
5. Joe Burrow, 31.6%
“He’s willing to do whatever it takes,” Berrios told ESPN.com “It’s easy to say that, but it’s another thing when you take the time out of your offseason training schedule to actually travel to different places. He’s doing everything to get everyone on the same page and making a real change next year.”
All of these stops and chemistry-building sessions come before training camp and represent hours upon hours he never had a year ago entering his rookie year in New York.
“The time he spent with his teammates training across the country will definitely impact the chemistry they feel this offseason,” predicted Beck, a former Dolphins, Ravens and Washington quarterback now with 3DQB training. Jets management hired Beck last season to be part of the staff to work with Wilson.
“They are familiar with the offense, the way they will be coached, and they have game experience now. This is really the fun part when you get to take that experience and build on it with each other. You could see it when they were training together, the back-and-forth communication they could have because both sides were coming from a place of experience and knowledge rather than it all being brand new.”
Some things can’t be forced. Chemistry is organic.