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By: Billy Riccette
Zach Wilson is ready to go. After getting a chance to reset himself and work on his fundamentals since his benching after Week 11, the former No. 2 overall pick now is back in the saddle for the New York Jets. Certainly, not the way he expected to be back, but he is excited nonetheless.
Wilson didn’t even know until Friday that he was going to return to the starting lineup after doctors would not medically clear Mike White to play against the Detroit Lions in Week 15 due to fractured ribs. As a result, it’s a “cool opportunity” as Wilson put it Friday.
Wilson has spent the last three weeks working on himself and getting his fundamentals back to where they should be. After losing his starting job to Mike White after the Patriots game in Week 11, Wilson was dropped to the No. 3 position on the depth chart. Wilson was elevated to the No. 2 role this week and head coach Robert Saleh did so with the thought that there was a possibility Wilson was going to play because of the uncertainty of White.
“When he was elevated to the number two quarterback, it was with the understanding that there’s a strong possibility that he was going to play and to prepare accordingly,” Saleh said. “He’s gotten vast majority of the first team reps, he’ll get all the reps today, he’ll get all the reps tomorrow, and so, we feel very comfortable about Zach’s preparation as the first-string quarterback and that he’s gotten his normal work load as a starting quarterback would normally get with the limitations that were placed on Mike, but love Mike, love how hard he’s worked to try to get back for his team, but at the end of the day, it’s just one of those deals where we’ve got to protect the player from the player.”
Wilson was always preparing himself as if he was the guy, even during the time he was inactive as the No. 3 quarterback.
“For me, going into this week it was let me prepare like I’m the guy and that’s what I did the last couple of weeks when I was inactive,” Wilson said. “So, taking the day as if I was the guy. We had no idea what it was going to be, and it’s not up to me, right? I don’t make that call if I’m playing or not, so it was just controlling what I can.”
He’ll now have the chance to control what he can in the game Sunday and he knows he has to be better at making decisions on the field, especially with the Jets fighting for a playoff spot.
“I’ve got to make the best decision for the guys in this locker room, and sometimes maybe it’s taking a sack, throwing it away, make the best decision for this team. So, that’s got to be the mindset going into that game, and I’m excited to try and show what I’ve been working on these past three weeks or whatever it is.”
Can his issues be fixed in such a short time? Who knows? Saleh at least is speaking out confidence in that potential, saying “I don’t think it’s impossible. He’s done a really nice job. I thought he’s had two of his best throwing days in practice.”
As for Wilson, he’s just focusing on enjoying football again, after he told reporters earlier in the week that he had to “find the fun in football again.”
“I’ve really just focused on enjoying football again, going back to the basics, the fundamentals of just being an efficient quarterback, and having those scout team reps I think were beneficial for me, and just being able to just decisively try and get the ball out of my hands, and be accurate, and get the ball to play makers.”
Now Wilson can go out and have fun, especially since, in his words, “the worst has already happened.” Wilson added: “I’m going to go out there and just have fun, and whatever happens, happens and I’m going to go out there and lay it out there and I’m going to do whatever is best for this team and that’s not my control if they want to make that change down the road or whatever. I’m going to go out there and play the best that I can and put this team in the position that I feel like is best for the team.”
Wilson also said, “I would play this game for free, and I think I said that the other day, it’s just you know you don’t go into this game thinking I’m doing this at eight years old trying to make a living like this.”
While Wilson can now seemingly have fun again, the hopes of the playoffs for the Jets seem to rest squarely on his shoulders, as he may end up starting in Week 16 as well, with the Jets on a short week against the Jaguars. From there, it’s anybody’s guess. For now, it’s just one game, one play at a time for Wilson.
Originally posted on Jets Wire