Hackett says Wilson was able to ‘re-center’ while being benched in the Jets’ past two games
Florham Park, N.J. — Zach Wilson was benched by the New York Jets to try to spark the offense.
Two games later, there's still barely a flicker.
“I think that he’s had the two weeks off to re-center himself and learn and continually grow,” offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said Thursday. "I think that when we look at it from the very beginning of this season, the whole idea was for him to be able to sit back and learn from Aaron (Rodgers).
“I think that those two weeks are something that he was able to do.”
Wilson mostly struggled during his first two NFL seasons after being the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2021. That led to the Jets — convinced they were only a quarterback away from being playoff contenders — working out a deal to acquire Rodgers from Green Bay in the offseason.
The plan for Wilson to absorb as much as he could from Rodgers from the sideline ended when the four-time NFL MVP tore his left Achilles tendon four snaps into his debut with the Jets. That thrust Wilson back into the starting job, and he again couldn't consistently help the offense produce.
The Jets are last or close to the bottom of the NFL rankings in several offensive categories. In an effort to jump-start things, Wilson was pulled in favor of Tim Boyle — who was also ineffective.
Boyle was waived and Wilson is back in.
“It’s unfortunate, but we have to move on,” Hackett said of Boyle. “We've got to score some points.”
The Jets, who are looking to snap a five-game losing streak, have scored fewer than two touchdowns on offense in eight straight games. They also have just two TDs total on offense in their past five games.
“We're all trying to find a way,” Wilson said Wednesday. “At the end of the day, it is a business. We have to score, we have to win games, and I understand that.”
Hackett has watched Wilson closely the past two weeks while Boyle started, Trevor Siemian was the backup and Wilson was the No. 3 emergency quarterback. He has seen no drop-off from Wilson, who said he was excited about getting another opportunity to start — despite a sourced report from The Athletic that said he showed reluctance to lead the huddle again this season.
“He’s been great,” Hackett said. “The guy’s been battle-tested. I mean, he really has, from being out on the field to all the things he’s had to deal with. I respect him so much for being able to keep his head down, continually learn, continually grow, and he’s fired up.”
Wilson has thrown for 1,944 yards and six touchdowns with seven interceptions in 10 games, including nine starts, this season. He and coach Robert Saleh acknowledged Wilson is more effective when he “lets it rip” rather than being overly cautious — almost concerned about making a mistake.
That's a different approach than what the Jets preached during Wilson's first two seasons when they said playing “boring football” and taking what the defense gave him — short passes with minimal chances for mistakes — was the way to go.
“I think for him there is a bit of a transition,” said Hackett, in his first season as the offensive coordinator. "I don’t know how it was in the past, but I know ours and I think he has grown. We saw some great improvement early in the season and the idea is to just get him back there so he can cut it loose.
“We always want to be aggressive and I think that’s something that we’re always going to push on him.”
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