Zach Wilson, 1.6
[please click photo for link to the video]
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Zach, we were talking to Mike a little bit already, LaFleur, and he had said he felt that this past game against the Buccaneers was the best game that you’ve played throughout your career so far. As you’ve kind of gone back and had a chance to watch the film again, what was your overall takeaway of how you played, the performance of the offense as a whole?
I felt that it was just comfortable and that doesn’t just go for me, I think that goes all the way around. I would say from beginning of the year, not a lot of the same guys are playing now that were then, but guys taking advantage of their opportunity and you see guys that have something to prove and are going out there and giving it everything they have, and they’ve done a great job around me and that’s all I can ask for. So, I think just the connection with me and the guys around me has been really good and just as games have gone on, of course we’re going to get more comfortable and just be more experienced as the game goes.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: You didn’t get to face the Bills the first time around, so what do you look forward to, what have you seen from them? They have a really highly ranked pass defense, what kind of challenges are they going to pose?
A great defense, a really good defense. We watch film on these guys and very sound on what they do, very good on the back end and then of course, causing havoc up front, getting pressure on the quarterback and different things. So, the challenge for me is how cleanly can I play, how efficient can I be, how can I just see enough to just play the play how we need to play it and just put my team in the best position that I can, just be sharp in decision making and just let the guys around me do what they do best and let them make plays. It’s going to be a great opportunity for us as a team in general to play against these guys again and we’ll be playing against them for a long time after this.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Hey Zach, Robert (Saleh) has talked a lot about December football for the last month, you guys getting acclimated to that and hopefully in the future playing for playoff spots and whatnot. The Bills are a playoff team, they’re playing for a homefield, for the division I should say. How much can that atmosphere there help you guys grow and the younger guys like yourself on the team grow and getting a little bit of a taste of that on Sunday, even though it’s not for a playoff spot?
These guys are going to give us their best shot obviously for a playoff spot. For them to be able to go in there and get homefield advantage and everything else that comes with it., Of course for them to want to try and finish the year strong and the regular season, same thing with us. So, we’re both going to give it our all, so it’s going to be a good game for us. Who can finish, who can give it everything they have and just to end on a high note and especially for us young guys, it’s been an up and down season but the best thing we can do is to finish strong.
(follow up): How much of a measuring stick can this be for the progress that you, yourself as a quarterback, and the team has shown in the last few weeks?
I wouldn’t say this game in general is one to look at. I mean, you can see the progress we’ve made just throughout the entire year. Every single game is different, and the highs and lows are going to come, but the this is another game, another opportunity to go up there and just try and be better and to try and down our best, do our job, play comfortable and just be efficient all the way around and execute it and that’s really all it comes down to.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: When you were dealing with some of your struggles, Zach, earlier in the year, l one of the players that Robert pointed to us as a reason to see that guys can turn it around was Josh Allen and the way that his plays improved dramatically from both year one to year two and then year two to year three and now year three to year four. Did you ever look into that? Did you ever look at guys who had turned it around and dramatically turned it around so when you were kind of going through that little bit of a rut early in the year?
I mean you kind of hear about it, but I’ve always tried to focus on me and the guys in the room with us and I would say, it’s been like that everywhere I’ve been my entire life. When I first got to college, I wasn’t that great, and I was just trying got survive and get through it. It’s a really similar experience now and everything is just different around you and you just know if you keep working at it and you just keep building that relationship with the guys around you and you guys just keep working hard, eventually things just kind of take care of themselves. I think that really goes for every rookie. We have all very different situations and different things we’re going through, but every single person experiences that as a rookie and there’s guys that do have great years, but for the most part, there’s big growth all the way around for guys that are quarterbacks and not doing that well as a rookie. It gets better with time.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Are you looking forward at all to an off-season where you don’t have Pro Day to prepare for, you don’t have combine to prepare for, the draft or interviews that you can just kind of focus from now until next year on just football and improving yourself as quarterback?
Yeah, 100 percent. I’m excited just to be able to try and finish strong this week against Buffalo and give it everything I have and then just kind of do a deep dive into the games that we played this year and trying to say, ‘Hey, what’s the main things that really need to work on and get better?’ And obviously, I already know what those things are but I can really just put focus towards those, kind of relax, I really feel like I’ve been going kind of for two years straight. When I had shoulder surgery, I was pushing to get back from that and then right into the COVID year of my junior season and that whole year, I really feel like it’s been two years straight. So, it’ll be good to kind of just relax a little bit, just get after the offseason and just try to really improve in the things I know I need to get better in.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Zach, have you ever crossed paths with Josh Allen out in California working out or anything?
I mean I know we work with different guys, but we have crossed paths through the combine process and I got to have a phone call with him a little bit. So, we’ve texted back and forth here and there and then after the last time we played them, I was on the field and got to say what’s up.
(follow up): Do you take anything, you just mentioned rookies struggling, he had a tough rookie year, he made a little bit of a bigger jump in second year and then made a very big jump into his third year? Do you take anything watching his progression and kind of any lessons from that?
Yeah, the biggest one is just to keep working. Don’t get gun shy, just keep playing the game and let your instincts do their thing and play within the offense and trust the guys around you and just have fun with it, play ball and just understand it’s going to get better with time.
Ian O’Connor, New York Post: Zach, given the faith that the Jets have put in you, if things work out as planned, you can be their quarterback for the next 15+ years, that means in the division you can be spending your career competing against good, young quarterbacks like Josh Allen and Mac Jones in particular. Is that fun to envision and is that a challenge that you embrace?
Yeah absolutely, that’s the goal. I’m here working to play for that long. I think that matchups within our division are awesome as well. The defenses that we play against in our division, they all are pretty similar as far as just causing chaos and the man pressures and doing different things. It really is going to be exciting and hopefully I can take that challenge on and just be here as long as I can.
DJ Bien-Aime, New York Daily News: Zach, that throw you made to Keelan Cole, that was a high-level throw. I mean everybody has acknowledged that. So, when you make throws like that in a game, how much of a confidence boost is that for you when you make a high-difficulty throw like that?
Yeah, a lot. I feel like it was maybe the things that built up to that and kind of just the situation of the game and where we were. I felt the backer kind of underneath it, I felt him settle and part of me was just like, ‘Dude, you got to rip it. Just react to what you’re seeing.’ That was kind of what I felt right there. It was tight, but because I was decisive and just put it on him and I had that trust Keelan was going to be there, he came down with it. I think as a unit we just felt pretty good on offense as far as being able to execute and doing what we’re trying to do.
Greg Joyce, New York Post: Zach, how would you describe the relationship between you and Mike LaFleur has kind of grown this year with you both going through it the first time? And how much are you looking forward to what you guys could do together, year two, with all the experience this year under your belt?
I’m really looking forward to it, he’s an awesome dude. I really enjoy our quarterback room in general and all the guys I’m working with daily. I really just feel like the offense really makes sense as far as what we’re trying to do, the foundation they’ve set for us. I think Coach LaFleur, he understands me very well as far as my skillset and what I bring and the best way for me to learn and go through things. I feel like our relationship is just going to keep getting better. He’s done an amazing job, I feel like he’s probably obviously learned a lot this year as well, so it’s cool to kind of go through this whole process together. I think it’s just going to get better with time, but I really am enjoying the offense. I brag about it to my old BYU coaches, and to my parents and stuff, how much I enjoy being a part of this system, just what we’re doing I think as a team is on the right track.
Ian O’Connor, New York Post: Even though Sunday’s game didn’t work out the way you wanted, the fact is you went toe-to-toe with the greatest quarterback ever. What did that do for your confidence going forward if anything?
I necessarily didn’t think of it like that, but just the fact that we were able to do something against the Super Bowl contending team that they could be this year and then Super Bowl champions from last year. I think it was just really good for us as a team to see that we can play with those guys. No matter who is on the field, no matter who has to step up within a week, we can give them our best shot. We’re going to go out there and play ball. So, I think that was just a good confidence booster that we’re heading in the right direction. It was a good learning experience for us that we got to finish and put the game away when we had multiple chances there.
DJ Bien-Aime, New York Daily News: How much do you guys use the experience against the Bucs, where you take basically the defending World Champs down to the last play, how much of a confidence boost can you guys take that into this week going against another Super Bowl contender in the Buffalo Bills?
We just got to keep stacking everything up, but I think last week, it wasn’t a win, but I think it was a win in some areas for us. I would say that the improvement all the way around, the execution, the want to, the fight all the way around the team, the passion throughout the locker room, how bad guys just want it, it’s just getting better every single game and now things are just starting to come together. We just need to build on it, kind of what we did in that game and just be able to finish there at the end. We’re just going to work to get better and play well against Buffalo.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Zach, I’m sure there’s been plenty of times this year where LaFleur kind of gave you a pep talk after games or walked you through mistakes. We talked to him earlier today and he said the fourth-and-two is 100% on him, and it kind of seemed like he beat himself up a little bit on that. Was the shoe on the other foot a little bit this week where you kind of had to say, “It’s okay what happened on the fourth-and-two?”
I think it was obviously a rough situation, but I think it’s going to eventually be a good learning experience for all of us in that time. Even for me, how can I have better communication going into a game as far as just, ‘Hey, what are we thinking on this play?’ Understanding the situation and altering the decisions there. There is a lot of people and a lot of things going on at that time and he can’t take the blame for all of that. Everyone could’ve been better right there in that situation, but I think the cool thing is we can all kind of learn from that, that’s going to be the good situation that hopefully next year, the year after that, when something like that comes up again, we’re better prepared and ready to get after it because we’ve been in that situation before.