Video of Zach Wilson’s first five games of his NFL career won’t be sent to Canton anytime soon.
Wilson has looked overmatched, as most rookie quarterbacks do in the NFL. But Robert Saleh remains confident that with time on the job, Wilson will become the quarterback the Jets believe he can be. Saleh compared the start of Wilson’s career to Josh Allen’s.
The Jets can only hope Wilson’s career arc is like the Bills’ quarterback.
"It’s not easy being a rookie quarterback," Saleh said on a Zoom call Monday afternoon. "It never has been or will be. If you look at Josh Allen, who everybody wanted to throw away after his first two years, his first five games of his rookie year are identical to what our young kid’s going through.
"He’s going to get better. He’s got tremendous arm talent. He goes through things the right way. I know it can be frustrating sometimes and we’re looking at some of these things like, ‘God, he should be making these throws.’ It’s going to start clicking."
Allen, the No. 7 pick in 2018, finished second in the MVP voting last year and is an early candidate this season. The Bills also are a Super Bowl contender. But three years ago, Allen had similar struggles to Wilson.
In his first five games, Allen threw two touchdown passes, five interceptions and had a 60.4 passer rating. Allen didn’t throw a TD pass in three of his first five starts, was sacked 18 times for 151 yards and his passer rating was 62.5.
Wilson has thrown four touchdown passes and a league-leading nine interceptions through five games. He hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass in three of them, has been sacked 18 times for 152 yards and his passer rating is 62.9.
Saleh said the Jets (1-4) will look to try to find ways to "simplify" things for Wilson during this bye week. But there is no substitute for experience.
"The thing you’re not going to be able to help him with is the speed of the game and the change in the schemes that he’s going to see every week," Saleh said. "Those are things he’s got to get better at and it’s going to take reps to do it."
One difference between Allen and Wilson is Buffalo had veteran coordinator Brian Daboll running the offense. The Jets have a first-time offensive coordinator, Mike LaFleur, calling the plays and working with Wilson. They’re both learning on the job.
The Jets’ offense is last in the NFL scoring (13.4 points), 30th in yards per game (267.0) and they are the only team with no points in the first quarter. They’ve been outscored 30-0 in the first quarter and 75-13 in the opening half.
Saleh said he would spend a good part of this bye week working with LaFleur on trying to jump-start the offense.
"We can do a better job keeping possession," Saleh said. "Looking at scheduling, just trying to find ways to give our guys an opportunity to start the game faster. There’s a lot of stuff we’re going to look at as coaches’ first and see what we can do over this next week to try and change something up to see if we can get going at the start of games."
It has been an ugly trend for the Jets. The Jets trailed the Falcons 17-0 in the second quarter on Sunday. They ran eight plays in their first three series. They ended with a punt, punt, and interception. Of their 27 first-half drives, 14 have ended with a punt, six with a turnover and just one with a touchdown.
This is troubling because teams usually script their first 15 plays. Saleh said he and LaFleur would go over game scripts as well.
"Well look at all of it," Saleh said. "Sometimes the scripted call might not be worth a damn. Sometimes the execution isn’t there. Sometimes it’s just really good play by the other side of the ball. But obviously we’re going to look at everything and do our best to try and make it a little bit better coming out of this bye week."
Comparing the rookie statistics through five games of Bills QB Josh Allen and Jets QB Zach Wilson:
Comp % TDs INTs Sacks Yds. Per Att. QB Rating
Allen 55.6 2 5 18 6.11 62.5
Wilson 57.3 4 9 18 6.53 62.9