Zach Wilson, the Jets second-year quarterback is committed to being everything he can be -- and then some. After a challenging rookie season in 2021, Wilson and his teammates are back at 1 Jets Drive for minicamp.
"I have that confidence in myself, I see the best players in the game and think I can do it," he told reporters on Wednesday. "You have to ride out the process and you can't just look at one year. The way I look at it the last year is part of the process for getting better. We have to understand it takes time. I guess we'll see, but I have a lot of confidence in myself.
"I feel I can be one of the best, and if you don't say that you're not a true competitor."
Simply making the necessary leap in Year 2 would be just fine with head coach Robert Saleh, who is squarely in Wilson's corner as his prized quarterback continues to improve.
"He doesn't need to be Tom Brady this year," Saleh said, obviously referring to the pre-eminent QB of this and any other era. "Now if he ends up being that, that's awesome. But that's not the expectation. The expectation is for him to continue to climb that mountain."
Wilson turned in strong performances in camp, concluding his spring with training camp on the horizon. Saleh said that he, his coaches and players believe there is "no limit" to what Wilson can accomplish.
"I think Zach Wilson's ceiling is exactly what I think he thinks his ceiling is, which is no limit to what we think he's capable of," Saleh said. "For him it's not about being the best today, it's about being your best."
During Wednesday's minicamp session, Wilson, 22, completed a sideline pass to the fleet Elijah Moore who got the best of the team's top draft pick, cornerback Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner. Wilson released the pass even before Moore made his break. He then collaborated with Jeff Smith on a long scoring pass, and later found Smith open for another long gainer.
"I thought the last few weeks were good, not just for me, everybody," Wilson said. "It wasn't perfect, but just having the right mindset coming in, having focus every day and getting better as a unit. Everything is good, it's been a good learning experience so far in the spring.
"I feel my understanding of what I'm supposed to do improving with my timing. Of course, there's more to improve based on understanding what the coaches are asking me to do. I'm going to keep improving ahead of camp."
Training camp won't begin until late July, but Wilson and a handful of his teammates will stay in North Jersey most of the time, training, working out and building strong personal relationships. Wilson said that he would join up with some of the team's offensive playmakers -- veteran and rookie -- for passing sessions in the middle of July.
"Play some, hang out and do some fun activities," Wilson said. "Three days of hanging out, the talking with the guys is more important than anything."
The Jets, an organization committed to the success of its young quarterback, went to great lengths to fortify the offense and give Wilson more options and to provide the best protection. Joining the team in free agency was guard Laken Tomlinson while the draft yielded WR Garrett Wilson and RB Breece Hall. The expected return of OL Mekhi Becton has the potential to make the five-man starting offensive line a force to be reckoned with.
"They've done a great job, you can tell, and that they're doing all they can to put me in position and everyone around me, giving us a shot to win," Zach Wilson said. "We definitely have those guys and with those guys up front, all we have to do is pull it together."
Some have made light of the budding connection between the QB in his sophomore season and the rookie WR with the speed, hands and moves to help transform the Jets' offensive attack.
Zach Wilson had this to say about his new receiver: "He's got the right mindset, a freakish ability in the air to find the ball, and going to camp this year I think he can be a great weapon for us."
Garrett Wilson repaid the compliment when he said: "Playing with someone like Zach is super special. To have a young dude to learn and grow with is really awesome. We joked around a few times about it [the Wilson-to-Wilson stuff]. Hopefully, it can all come to life when the season comes around. It's been really awesome."
After a slow start to last season, Wilson said the four games he missed while recovering from a knee injury proved to be a benefit in disguise as he finished the season strong. In the white-hot New York media and all across social media fans sounded off and wondered if Wilson was the right guy.
"When I look at the adversity, I've had it throughout my whole life," he said. "There's always somebody that's doubting something you're doing or trying to accomplish. It fuels you as a team because 98% of people outside this building have no idea what's going on. Use it to fire up myself and to close that gap. It's special to have a group that believes the same thing and can block out that noise.
"My only comparison was as a freshman in college [at BYU] when there were haters all around me. I injured my shoulder and was on the ropes and I didn't have a great sophomore season. I was able to overcome it and the second time around it doesn't bother you at all."