The day after Zach Wilson threw four interceptions, the Jets weren’t sounding any alarms. They sounded extremely confident that Wilson would learn and grow from it.
"He’s such a resilient young man," Robert Saleh said on a Zoom call Monday afternoon. "He could probably recite every single play that happened. He’s going to want to talk about it, go through it and learn from it. I know he’s going to get better from this. He’s in a good place."
Saleh warned everyone in training camp that there would be some ugly days for Wilson. The rookie quarterback lived one on Sunday and then relived it Monday.
The Jets watched video of their 25-6 loss to the Patriots, and Saleh didn’t change his tune regarding Wilson’s performance.
Saleh wants his young quarterback to become a little more boring and go for the sure throw and yardage and not force plays.
It sounds a little contradictory for Saleh to ask Wilson to play "boring" football after preaching his "All Gas, No Brake" mantra to the Jets. But Saleh said it means doing everything you can to improve and going to bed better than when you woke up.
"Put your foot on the pedal and step on the gas with regards to becoming better at what you’re being asked to do every single day," Saleh said. "That’s a situation where he’s got to be better. All Gas, no Brake mantra for him is that - be boring.
"It’s not about being electric and making the plays, you just trust that if you stay ahead of the chains, stay within yourself and you play the game of football and keep the team in an advantageous situation, other teams will panic, other teams will force the issue. That’s where you can take advantage of your shots and explosive plays."
The Jets took Wilson second overall because they loved his ability to make every throw, fit them in tight windows in the coverage, and make plays off-schedule. But in Sunday’s game, Wilson imploded. He made poor decisions, and he didn’t take what the Patriots’ defense was giving him.
On his second interception, he had Elijah Moore right in front of him with room to run, and he threw it high and through Corey Davis’ hands. On his fourth pick, Moore made a mistake in his route. But Wilson threw it anyway – nowhere near Moore, and Devin McCourty picked it off.
It was second-and-28 and the Jets were down 13-3 early in the third. Saleh believes Wilson shouldn’t have thrown it deep. He should have just tried to get in a third-and-manageable situation. Two plays later, Damien Harris ran for a 26-yard touchdown.
"It was one of those such an unnecessary play and a self-inflicted wound on that one," Saleh said. "Aside from the route running, understanding situational football was the culprit on that one."
These are part of the growing pains that Wilson has to go through. In camp, Saleh said, "it’s going to get worse before it gets better." The Jets have to hope this was the low point for Wilson.
"We all believe in him and we all expect great things from him," linebacker C.J. Mosley said. "But nobody ever said it’s going to be easy. It’s all about growing pains in this league and in life. I know he will bounce back."
Wilson had a strong debut in Week 1 in Carolina. He was sacked six times and under pressure all game, but he threw two second-half touchdown passes and nearly led the Jets back from a 16-0 hole.
Things change quickly from week to week. Wilson didn’t face as many blitzes against Bill Belichick’s defense, but he looked lost.
"There’s going to be some hair-pulling moments," Saleh said. "There’ s going to be some exciting moments. There’s going to be unbelievable moments. [Sunday] was a rough one. But it doesn’t mean that’s the trend.
"He’s going to get better from this and he’s going to have moments where it’s like, ‘Holy Cow is he special. When we get to those moments, we take them in stride because we got to continue to get better from all of it."