FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Zach Wilson grew up watching the Patriots play in Super Bowls and seeing Bill Belichick on his TV screen over and over. Wilson can’t wait to see and feel what it’s like playing against a Belichick defense.
The Jets’ rookie quarterback gets his chance on Sunday, and he’s neither worried nor nervous. Wilson is excited for the challenge, knowing that Belichick has done a number on young quarterbacks in his long illustrious history as a coach.
The 22-year-old Wilson’s face lights up as he talks about playing quarterback for a living and actually seems to be looking forward to getting knocked around Sunday.
"This is tough, this is a hard job. It’s awesome," Wilson said Thursday. "Sometimes I just sit back and smile and I’m like, ‘This is so cool.’ There’s nothing better than to go out here against the Patriots and tmaybe they smack you in the mouth on one (play) and then you stand up and you hit a big throw down the field.
"That’s the fun part of the game. You never know what you’re going to get. I just enjoy the challenge of this. Our job is never the same every single day. We’re always looking at something new. That’s the exciting part this week. It’s going to be fun."
Wilson may not use the word fun after the Jets’ home opener at MetLife Stadium if Belichick does to him what he’s done to other young quarterbacks.
Former Jet Sam Darnold was mic'd up for a Monday night game against New England and famously said, "I’m seeing ghosts" during a four-interception horror show. Darnold wasn’t a rookie then. He was in Year 2.
Wilson has a much better supporting cast and more weapons than Darnold had. But it won’t matter if the Jets don’t fix some of the offensive line issues that led to Wilson being sacked six times and hit 10 in last week’s loss in Carolina.
That’s been a major point of emphasis in practice this week. But Wilson came to the defense of the offensive line, saying he’s got to take some of the heat for not getting rid of the ball quickly enough or making better decisions on where to go with it.
"There’s sometimes where I’m going to bail them out and there’s sometimes that they’re going to bail me out," Wilson said. "It’s a little bit skewed as far as six sacks is all on the O-line. It’s definitely team wide.
"For me, (it’s) just getting the ball out quicker, understanding that those guys are teeing off up front and how can I help those guys out and get the ball out of my hands?"
Wilson has recovered well from that beating. He said he feels "great" now. After the game, Wilson said he felt like he had "a little whiplash" and that one of the hits "felt like I got hit by a truck."
His teammates have praised his toughness for stepping up in the pocket and throwing for 258 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.
Wilson is expecting the Patriots to pressure him plenty on Sunday, after seeing how he and the offensive line handled it last week. But Wilson also expects them to be better in his first game of many games against Belichick and the Patriots.
"I’m excited for it," Wilson said. "I think it’s going to be a good challenge for me, tons of great learning, I’m sure. These guys are part of our division so we’re going to play them a lot this year and in the coming years.
"It’s just getting used to this scheme, how we can beat some of the things they’re going to throw at us. It’s no secret what they’re going to throw at us. Now you got to try and stop it. So that’s the big question. We have a lot of good things we’ve been working on this week."