Zach Wilson was back on the field Sunday for the Jets, but the player who threw for 300 yards and two scores in New York’s 30-6 win over a contending Houston Texans team bared little resemblance to the quarterback who lost his starting job three weeks ago.
“You could tell he was having fun and enjoying himself,” veteran wide receiver Randall Cobb said Monday, adding that Wilson showed off his “mental toughness” to go out there and “just play his brand of football.”
On the day, Wilson was decisive, accurate and effective at using his legs to extend plays – especially when he avoided a blitzer and scrambled out of the pocket to his left before re-setting his feet to hit Garrett Wilson across the middle of the field for a 25 yard gain to convert a 3rd-and-12 on the Jets’ first touchdown drive of the game.
So what was the turnaround?
“Feel like that pressure that he’s been carrying just didn’t seem to be there,” Cobb said. “And it was nice to see him just [being] loose and free and having fun, go out there and slinging it around.”
That pressure – which for Wilson was undoubtedly compounded by his two weeks on the bench as the third quarterback and reports about his reluctance to play – was something Cobb sensed around the building leading up to Sunday’s game.
“I think everyone has,” Cobb said of feeling the pressure. “Unfortunately things haven’t gone the way that we thought they would this season. I think all of us have been pressing and trying to do too much.
“I think that we’ve tried to throw the kitchen sink with every possible thing that we could, whether it be scheme or with personnel or just trying whatever we could to find something to stick.”
The veteran – who hauled in a 15-yard TD to open the scoring on his only target – added the Jets “kinda just went back to the basics this week.”
“We ran some really basic concepts and made some plays. We put the opportunities on the guys to just run routes and get open and just catch the ball,” Cobb said.
It was a winning formula as the Gang Green offense shook off a scoreless first half to score touchdowns on three of their first possessions after halftime on drives of seven plays for 80 yards, eight plays for 59 yards and 10 plays for 75 yards.
“He did awesome, a testament to his character. How much he’s developed as a person, as a man, as a professional,” guard Laken Tomlinson, the proverbial last man standing on a battered Jets offensive line, said.
“Thought he handled things well. Came out last week juiced up, ready for practice motivating guys in the locker room. And it showed. He fought for us. We fought for him too,” Tomlinson added.
For linebacker CJ Mosley, confidence is, first and foremost, on his mind when it comes to quarterbacks.
“And from the start to the finish, you just saw his confidence with the play calling, with him throwing the ball, when he tucked it and got out of the pocket, he wasn’t second-guessing himself,” Mosley said of Wilson’s play Sunday. “He got the ball to his playmakers and when the balls in their hands, they made plays.”