Note to all Jets fans: On Sunday, we return you to your regular programming.
After a monthlong interruption from the Zach Wilson Show, preempted by his right knee sprain, the show returns against the 2-8 Texans Sunday in Houston when the Jets’ prized rookie quarterback returns to the field.
The primary reason for Jets fans to watch this season has been to witness Wilson progress and show signs of validation for being picked No. 2 overall in the draft.
When Wilson suffered a tear in the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in a 54-13 loss to the Patriots last month at Gillette Stadium, his body of work had been encouraging but spotty.
There were signs of explosiveness with his rifle arm and mobility in and out of the pocket, but there were too many displays of carelessness with the football — as evidenced by the nine interceptions he’s thrown in five-plus games.
Perhaps it was merely the spin of coachspeak or perhaps it will prove to be true, but Jets head coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur painted a positive scenario for Wilson sitting and watching other quarterbacks run the offense while he recovered from his injury.
“It will be fun to get him back out there, see what he’s learned, and go play his game,’’ LaFleur said Friday.
When I asked LaFleur if it was only possible for him to tell whether Wilson has, indeed, made advancements by watching him in the heat of a game, he said, “No, because us as coaches, we look at the practices. The improvements that I believe he’s made these last three days compared to where he was a month ago, you could see it in those three days. Hopefully, it will carry over to Sunday.
“He’s had a good week of practice to get himself prepared for this moment and I expect good things from him.’’
LaFleur said he’s looking for Wilson to “have a better grasp of the offense’’ when he returns.
“I don’t have any expectations of what to expect from him, the offense, whatever,’’ LaFleur said. “We just try to live in the play, in the moment, and whatever comes of it will come. The game is going to slow down for him. That’s what you look for. I know that’s something that he wants to make come to life.’’
Saleh said this week for Wilson back in the saddle as the starter was about “just trying to reacquaint himself into the offense.’’
“He’s seeing a bunch of different receivers running at a different tempo than when he left,’’ Saleh said. “Everyone’s gotten a little bit better around him and so, just him reacquainting himself with the offense and his teammates, but it’s been a good week of preparation.’’
Like LaFleur, Saleh said he’s seen a different Wilson practice this week.
“Even leading up to his injury, he was making the right reads, going where the ball needed to go,’’ Saleh said. “For him, the speed at which he gets the ball to those people, to his reads, processing a little bit faster, playing the game faster with his mind [is evident].’’
Tight end Ryan Griffin, one of Wilson’s secondary playmakers, seconded the words of Saleh and LaFleur, saying Wilson “looks healthy [and] had a great week of practice.’’
“I’m really looking forward to what he can give us on the field, [because] we’ve really missed that,’’ Griffin said Friday. “The belief [in Wilson] is strong. From Day 1, we knew he was going to be the franchise quarterback here for a long time. So, we’re trying to do everything we can to help him out with his progression.’’
Wilson this week spoke about the advantages of watching the other quarterbacks — first Mike White, then Josh Johnson and finally Joe Flacco — play the past four games.
“I feel like every rep that they went through I was able to learn from and apply it to my game,’’ he said. “I thought one thing that was cool was watching those guys play, especially Mike in that Cincinnati game, was how quickly he gets the ball to some of our playmakers. I just feel like it’s going to help me going forward.
“I’m just excited. Just that rush, that feeling you get just to be back on the field, it’s exciting. Just happy to be back with the guys.’’
The feeling amongst “the guys’’ is mutual.