Opinion: Can Zach Wilson Finally Be the Man To Replicate Joe Namath at the Big Apple?

Published 05/19/2021, 12:27 PM CDT


Very few could have predicted the meteoric rise of Zach Wilson over the course of 2020. The quarterback from BYU saw his draft stock skyrocket thanks to an incredible showing in his junior year. 

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Starting 12 games and recording 3,692 yards, 33 touchdowns for just three interceptions, the quarterback single-handedly transformed his team’s offense.

Completing 73.5% of his attempted passes, the QB broke the BYU record for the most percentage of passes completed. A record previously held by three-time Super Bowl winner Steve Young.  

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But it’s not just his throwing ability that caught the eye of everyone in the league. Rushing for 255 yards and registering 10 touchdowns, Wilson truly belongs to the category of up and coming dual-threat quarterbacks. 

Impressing all with his near-flawless season, the quarterback was drafted 2nd overall in the 2021 NFL Draft by none other than the New York Jets. A franchise that has struggled with the quarterback position for years. Correction, decades. 

Drafting Wilson, the Jets hope they have finally found their answer. But can the baby-faced quarterback from Utah really guide the Jets back to the pinnacle of the NFL?

Broadway Zach or just another failed experiment?

The days of Broadway Joe walking the league seem like an eternity ago. And that’s because it has been so. The last time the New York Jets won the Super Bowl was in 1969 when the legendary Joe Namath was the quarterback for the side. 

Since then, multiple quarterbacks have come and gone. Some veterans signed, some rookies, but the end result has been the same. Zero Super Bowl appearances in over 50 years. 

READ MORE – Canton Bound or Big-Time Bust: What Can One Expect From Niners Rookie QB Trey Lance?

The latest in the line of failed Jets QBs is Sam Darnold. The quarterback from USC was drafted third overall by the franchise in 2018. 

Where is he now? Well, not in New York. The Jets traded their starting quarterback to the Carolina Panthers in return for a sixth-round draft pick in 2021 and a second and fourth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. 

Apr 29, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Zack Wilson (BYU) with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the New York Jets as the number two overall pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft at First Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

So what makes Zach Wilson any different? Perhaps the answer lies in the Jets changes to the coaching staff. The side not only parted ways with Darnold but with Head Coach Adam Gase as well. 

Bringing in former 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, the side is looking to start from scratch. While this is Saleh’s first shot at a head coaching role, there’s reason to believe the franchise has a plan.

A blueprint for the future which involves Zach Wilson. The quarterback has drawn close comparisons to Kansas City Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes due to their eerily similar playing style. 

Jets must provide Zach Wilson the support he needs

And in a league where dual-threat QBs are becoming the norm, Wilson is a perfect fit. A lot of his success though will hinge on how the franchise goes about surrounding their quarterback with talent. 

That’s something that they’ve historically struggled with over the years. With the right weapons, Wilson can definitely take the franchise back to its glory days. 

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A Super Bowl appearance might even be a possibility. Whether he ends up winning one or not, only time can tell.

Jets fans have been here before. There surely is a sense of deja vu to all of this. But if there’s anyone who can break the dreaded run, Wilson is probably their best bet.

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Shivayan Roy

750 articles

Shivayan Roy is currently an NFL writer at EssentiallySports. After completing his Masters Diploma in Journalism from the Asian College of Journalism, Roy functioned as a reporter for Goal.com and extensively covered the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

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