Jets will be just fine with Zach Wilson as QB1 thanks to his predecessor

Jets turn to Zach Wilson
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) passes against the Buffalo Bills during the first quarter of an NFL football game, Monday, Sept. 11, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

EAST RUTHERFORD — Call it fate or a simple case of the Devil coming to collect on Joe Namath’s guarantee, but the New York Jets now have their 2023 season hanging in the balance of their backup quarterback.

Zach Wilson going from former second-overall pick to outcast to backup has highlighted what it’s been like to be a member of the Jets organization over the last few months. Now, with Aaron Rodgers done for the year with an Achilles tear, the Jets turn to the quarterback they replaced in the offseason to save their season.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZnA77ui5kE

Jets fear Rodgers tore his Achilles
New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers (8) is tended to on the field during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Monday, Sept. 11, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

While many fans, analysts, and some members of the organization might think the season is over with an injury to Rodgers, that’s not necessarily the case. There are reasons to believe that not only can Wilson play at an improved level, but the Jets are good enough to mask poor quarterback play with the roster in front of him.

The talent on the roster can mask QB play

One of the big reasons why the Jets faltered down the stretch in 2022 was because of the quarterback play. Wilson was terrible, and the Jets crumbled losing their last six games. A big part of that though was the decimation of the Jets roster due to injuries. 

New York lost their starting right guard, right tackle, running back, left tackle, and center for most games. That lack of health sunk the campaign in a way poor quarterback play wouldn’t be able to. 

The good news (if there is one today) is that the Jets have an even more talented roster than last season. Their depth has improved and they continue to look the part of a team that is capable of beating any team in football – if the quarterback play doesn’t falter. 

Gang Green needs Wilson to be average. Along the way, they have the players in pace to elevate the quarterback’s play to the point where they can win games in surprising fashion. 

Wilson has looked better than in years past

Going 14/21 for 140 yards and a touchdown wasn’t enough to quell concerns in Monday’s night win, but Wilson has looked better through training camp and in practice. 

The Jets themselves are not giving up and seem more than ready to follow Wilson into gamedays this year too. 

“Zach (Wilson) is a starter on any other team. He showed already that he can run the team. Zach had been having a great camp, so we were ready,” Jordan Whitehead said after Monday’s win

New York will certainly need him to be better than he was against Buffalo, but there’s more confidence in him this season than any other. It’ll be up to Wilson to show he’s capable of being a starting NFL quarterback again. If he plays like he did in camp, it’s certainly possible. 

Rodgers in his ear will help

It’s not like Wilson is the leader in the quarterback room with a young offensive coordinator and the shriveled husk of Joe Flacco. The Jets did an amazing job this offseason of improving the offensive coaching staff. Todd Downing and Nathaniel Hackett are quality leaders who can help Wilson be more prepared to face pressure this season than the likes of Mike LaFleur and Rob Calabrese.

It also helps that Rodgers should still be with the team and will be with Wilson to help him throughout the season. The relationship between the two quarterbacks has been a lightning rod of positivity since Rodgers got to New York. Now, with Wilson in charge of getting the offense on track, he’ll need all the help he can get. 

Aaron Rodgers Jets
New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers talks to reporters after a joint practice with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Jets’ training facility in Florham Park, N.J., Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Having a Hall-of-Fame quarterback in your ear certainly helps. 

It has happened before

Throughout NFL history, we have seen unbelievable teams be led by bad quarterbacks and still find ways to be dominant in a season. The 2000 Ravens, 1980 Raiders, 1974 Steelers, and 1972 Dolphins won championships with mediocre or bad quarterback play from their backup. 

Add in other teams like the 2017 Eagles, 1990 Giants, 1987 Redskins, and 1999 Rams, and you have plenty of examples where bad quarterback play can be masked for an entire season to the benefit of the home team. 

It won’t be easy for New York. Their schedule is tough, and there is no guarantee that Wilson looks any better than what he has shown in his first two seasons. But the Jets roster is as talented as any other team in football. They absolutely can win enough games to get into the playoffs and then anything can happen. 

This isn’t to guarantee that the Jets will still win the Super Bowl – that notion has gone out the window. But it’s clear that this team is still good enough to win and they don’t necessarily need to look far for examples of other teams doing it with backup quarterbacks. 

It has happened before. 

For more New York Jets news, turn to AMNY.com