Zach Wilson can’t shake Chris Simms.
The NBC football analyst, son of NFL veteran QB Phil Simms and himself a five-year quarterback in the league, has been praising the BYU and New York Jets quarterback for the past three years.
He stood by his praise through Wilson’s rookie season filled with ups and downs, an injury, a comeback and a faltering supporting cast.
This past week Simms posted his Top 40 Quarterbacks list and he had Wilson No. 22, ahead of No. 23 Justin Fields, No. 25 Jalen Hurts, No. 29 Tua Tagovailoa, and many others. Oh, he got heat for the running, but he backed it up, dishing praise for how Wilson progressed after his knee injury and how he was asked to run a complete offense for the Jets despite hurdles with personnel.
You can see his entire Wilson commentary here.
Of course, this list has a lot of folks bent. Lists always do.
Said Simms of Wilson’s trajectory:
“Arrow pointing up, big time. He has the type of talent to be top 10-ish. The ball flies off his hand sometimes. His arm is some of the best quarterbacks in the league-type talent. He has a tremendously quick release and can throw it with great power from awkward positions. He was managed the least … (The Jets) ran a real NFL offense and asked him to read plays like a veteran quarterback. His ability to get out of the pocket and make plays is real. At times, he has some mechanical issues … but there are some real special talents here.”
For critics of Wilson, that’s battery acid.
"He looks great. I was just with Zach last week, it's definitely taken a lot of hard work. He was eating all the time. He's an explosive guy, and it's good to see all that weight gain and still maintain that explosiveness." -@jbecktwelve on Zach Wilson's weight gain. pic.twitter.com/URt5elYRdS— Benjamin Criddle (@CriddleBenjamin) May 25, 2022
For Wilson fans, it cements their belief that Wilson and the Jets are headed in the right direction and New York could see a resurgence of sorts this season behind what head coach Robert Saleh, ownership and Wilson are trying to get done in the offseason.
As an ex-quarterback, Simms said he saw something in Wilson his rookie year that other quarterbacks know and understand. Even his father could see it. Wilson was asked to make more advanced reads and throw over the middle of the field in tight windows compared to the other guys (rookies).
“So hey, he got off to a slow start. We know that he got injured and when he came back, he was a different guy. He played phenomenal,” he said. “And we talk about the arm, but his legs are real, too. I mean, he’s running for 50-yard touchdowns against the Jaguars. Then (there) is his ability to get out of the pocket when nothing’s there and make plays happen the way we talk about with the great quarterbacks in the league right now. That’s real too.”
These are the traits Simms says that have him placing Wilson No. 22.
“Does he have some issues? Yeah,” said Simms, again praising how hard Wilson can throw, calling it a laser beam type arm. He said Wilson has the best arm of his rookie class.
“But mechanically, he’s got an issue that drives me crazy. Every Jets fan had gotta know why he’s throwing balls that are rockets at guys’ man junk or their knees all the time. To me, he gets his back leg, his right leg outside the framework of his body, too much, and it creates a downward plane with his shoulders. That’s why he throws those rockets there. That’s the biggest thing he has to fix in his game.”
Actually, when the Jets brought in Beck, his offseason QB guru from San Diego, a former BYU QB with NFL stops at Miami, Washington and Baltimore, Wilson improved post-injury last season and played his best football.
The Simms’ love for Wilson is strong.
And he’s stood behind both his pre-draft prediction, season commentary, and post-rookie year analysis in praise of Wilson.
That, his mother Lisa would tell you, is far better than the bark of the pack of hounds that seek to bring him down.
Admirable, Mr. Simms.