September 26, 2021

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Zach Wilson finding ways to simplify things before…

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Jets


Don’t try convincing Robert Saleh or Zach Wilson that the Jets’ schedule was drawn completely at random.

Even with the final cut from 80 to 53 players still looming, the Jets turned the page Sunday from training camp and preseason games to a practice featuring the starters against the starters in 11-on-11 competition and coaches preparing for Week 1 against the Sam Darnold-led Panthers.

“The NFL does have a sense of humor,” Saleh quipped.

The Jets traded Darnold on April 6, drafted Wilson on April 29 and learned of their starting quarterback for the past three years and his rookie successor going head-to-head to open the season when the schedule was released on May 12.

“It’s typical by the NFL, but it’s exciting,” Wilson said. “That’s what people want to watch. We’re in the entertainment business — and that’s what’s fun for us. I’m sure Sam is excited, as well.”

There is plenty of excitement about Wilson after he combined to complete 15 of 20 passes for 191 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in two strong preseason performances. At least one first down was gained on all six Wilson-engineered possessions, after the Jets ranked second-to-last in the NFL last season by converting only 33.9 percent of third downs.

Jets
Zach Wilson is gearing up for a Week 1 game against the Panthers.
Getty Images

Wilson initially was set to play Friday against the Eagles, but Saleh changed his mind without the offensive line intact and facing a wet turf.

“I get reminded it’s going to be a long season, so I was trying to take mental reps,” Wilson said, who stayed in communication via headset on the sideline. “I was just making sure I had the calls down and going through the process of pretending I was out there.”

The Jets added veteran Josh Johnson during training camp as a sounding board, but it’s likely the quarterbacks meeting room come Wednesday will have Wilson atop a depth chart amounting to zero regular-season snaps.

“He’s going to see more speed on the field with regards to the defense, he’s going to see a different scheme every week,” Saleh said. “There’s so many different things that are going to happen for him over the course of the year, and he’s just got to find ways to absorb the information.”

Or has he already?

“I don’t know how veteran quarterbacks do it in the NFL,” Wilson said, “but I found something that works for me as far as making sure I get on the tape. I watch games early in the week. I start to get more cut-ups in situations as the week goes on. I have a process of overloading information, and at the end of the week my process is, ‘How can I give myself 1-2 things that will simplify the game and tell me exactly what’s going on?’ ”

Wilson won’t go as far as fellow rookie Justin Fields of the Bears and say processing the game feels “slow,” but he exudes comfort when describing his weekly routine.

“You sit here [on film] and you have all day to diagnose what’s going on,” Wilson said. “But on the field you have a couple seconds, so you don’t want to be overthinking anything. Every week in college I was coming up with something new that I thought helped — or it didn’t.”

There is an extra week to get ready for the regular season this year, but no more vanilla play calls on both sides. No more ignoring the scoreboard. No more scripts, which is supposed to play into Wilson’s strength as a scrambling playmaker.

“I hope I can be a guy who stays in the pocket 100 percent of the time and gets the ball out of my hands and makes plays,” Wilson said, “but stuff is going to happen in games.

“The pocket is going to break down, they are going to give us a defense that maybe our plays don’t work against, and I’m going to have to figure out how to extend something and be aggressive down the field but not turn the ball over. That kind of stuff is really going to come into play once we get into real games.”

That first “real game” against Darnold is no joke.

https://nypost.com/2021/08/29/jets-zach-wilson-finding-ways-to-simplify-things-before-opener/