Wilson’s time with the Jets devolved from the chosen future of the franchise to a background figure resigned to existing in the long shadow cast by Rodgers. It offered good — like the relief of the pressure of playing quarterback in New York — but also came with the disappointment of failing to live up to expectations.
It was a reality borne out of Wilson’s inability to become a quality quarterback; in 22 starts over two seasons, the former No. 2 pick went 8-14, completing 55.2% of his passes for 15 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. But as Wilson quickly learned during Monday night’s 22-16 comeback win, his time would come again. Now, it’s here.
Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett wasn’t around for Wilson’s first two NFL seasons. He headed to New York under the belief he’d be coaching Rodgers through the 2023 campaign, but as he’s spent the last six months on New York’s staff, he’s gotten to know Wilson quite well.
“My respect for him is off the charts,” Hackett said of Wilson on Thursday. “For a guy to not have any practice, to come in there and execute the way that he did was just so great to see.
“It’s funny. I wish the world could’ve been in that locker room at halftime to just see the entire team, how they responded, especially the offense. Just the way that they were looking each other in the eye, they were fired up for the challenge, and they stepped up against a very, very good football team. So I think Zach did a really good job and I think he kept his composure, and that’s all you can ask.”
Wilson got off to a positive start, even if statistically, he didn’t do anything special. The number that mattered most to the Jets was six: the final margin of victory.
Soon, No. 2 will try to get them their second win of 2023.