The New York Jets have gotten off to a rough start to the 2021/22 season, losing their opener against the Carolina Panthers 19-14 on Saturday. All eyes were on rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, who had a shaky start but steadily improved as the game progressed.
The Jets did not score until the second half of the game. A pair of touchdown passes from Wilson brought the scores closer but the Panthers held on for the win.
"Really, it's just understanding that no matter what happens, you're always in the game," Wilson said after the loss. "You've got to fight through adversity to make plays. Even when mistakes were made early in the game, you've got to keep moving on. You've got to make big plays in big-time moments."
Zach’s mother, Lisa Wilson, unfortunately, became a target for fans' frustrations and was forced to hit out at trolls who sent her messages criticizing the young QB’s performance. Per Terez Owens, Lisa posted screenshots of some of the messages on social media, leaving the words "Hate is so toxic" over one of the screenshots.
Lisa and her family were in attendance at Bank of America Stadium to show support for the rookie and claimed she was only able to see him for around 10 minutes outside of the venue.
Jets coach Robert Saleh has backed Wilson to get better on the back of his early struggles after he finished with 258 passing yards, the aforementioned touchdown passes and an interception. Wide receiver Corey Davis was the recipient of both passes and would also make a two-point conversion after one of the scoring plays.
"He's only going to get better from this," Saleh said of the rookie’s performance. "There were so many missed opportunities, even on his end, with regards to just letting it rip and getting the ball out. Even on his interception, he just didn't put the zip that he needed to put on it. The worst-case scenario, the corner was in great shape, he probably would've batted it down anyway. But he tossed up a lollipop. So a lot of great things for him to learn off of.
"We're still really excited about him. I believe we've got a good one."
Linebacker C.J. Mosley reckons Wilson is going to win a lot of games for the Jets and fans looking to bet on games would do well to check out the NFL expert picks before opening their slips up.
258 yards and 2 TDs in @ZachWilson's debut.— New York Jets (@nyjets) September 13, 2021
"I'll tell you what, Two's going to win a lot of games for us," Mosley declared. "It takes a lot to sit in that pocket, to have all the pressure and all the looks that he was getting, from what I saw, and for him to make some big-time throws to try to get us back in that game, I have a lot of respect for him."
The Jets do have a lot to be excited about when it comes to Wilson, despite the fact that he could have done a lot better on his debut.
He did do enough to impress a certain NFL exec too.
"He's extremely confident. Even with the rocky start, he didn't lose confidence," an unnamed personal evaluator told ESPN. “He broke the pocket and threw the ball deep the first four times; instead of looking for routes coming back to him, he's looking to go deep. He's buying time and escaping to make a big play. He got hit, and he didn't blink."
Another exec highlighted a concern given the fact that left tackle Mekhi Becton is out injured.
"He has to understand teams are going to pressure him, especially with Becton out, so the ball has to be out," they were quoted as saying. "He's a naturally aggressive thrower, which will get him in trouble but will also create opportunities downfield. He can throw with timing and rhythm, but he’s seeing speed and [defensive] rotations he wasn’t seeing in the preseason. At least his ability to throw off-platform will help him in a bad offense."
Saleh would speak to the fearlessness Wilson displayed during the game as he was hit on a few occasions.
"The kid's been hit before, he took some shots today, obviously. But he got back up, he showed resolve, and he's fearless, he really is," the coach pointed out.
"Yeah, the neck's a little sore, a little whiplash, but it'll be alright," the player admitted. "We've got a great O-line. They're going to go back, they're going to do their thing and they're going to get better this week in practice, and we're going to make it work."
While it wasn’t an excellent debut, it wasn’t a bad one either and many would agree that the QB will only come back better from this. Of course, fans have a right to be upset after a loss but sending derogatory messages to anyone’s mother is way over the line.