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Jets QB Zach Wilson Points to Chiefs Game as 'Turning Point'

Offense Preparing for Giants Blitz-Heavy Defense


After rolling into the Jets bye week after three impressive performances against the Chiefs, Broncos and Eagles, QB Zach Wilson would like to carry that momentum into the Green & White's Week 8 bout with their crosstown rival Giants and manage the pressure against one of the league's most blitz-heavy defenses.

"The last two years I think were a tough spot because of how I was mentally," Wilson said. "But it was finally this year, that Chiefs game, not only a turning point, but finally things felt like what I had been doing in practice, at least what I felt like I had been doing in practice since OTAs was like, 'Oh, look it is finally coming along.' And I got to keep that going."

During the first three weeks of the season, Wilson connected on 52% of his passes for 467 yards, 2 touchdowns and 4 interceptions and registered a passer rating of 57.

But after the Week 3 loss to the Patriots, Wilson has completed 67% of his throws for 630 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception and posted an 87.5 passer rating over the past three games. Against the defending conference champions, Kansas City and Philadelphia, he threw for 215.5 yards per game, 2 touchdowns and had an 89.3 passer rating.

"For whatever reason, it takes time," Wilson said. "You get different looks, and you need to get comfortable with things. But I felt like finally [the Chiefs game] was the first game that this is what I have been showing I can do, and I was able to do it. It kind of gains more trust with the guys around you as well. They have more trust in me, and I have more trust in them, with coach Hack as well. We're able to keep building on that and it is a good feeling to have."

In the Jets game against the Giants, Wilson will face a defense with the third-highest blitz rate in the NFL (41.6%). He feels managing pressure has been a place of improvement this season.

"I think it's just one really understanding what they're throwing at you," Wilson said. "Last year and my first two years, I was maybe not paying attention as much to what the pressure exactly was. But now I actually feel like I have an understanding of what's actually coming that maybe you can setup in the pocket a little bit differently or you can anticipate stepping up a little bit more."

Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale is known for scheming unique and exotic blitz packages that make it difficult for opposing quarterbacks to identify the free rusher.

After playing the Giants in the preseason and getting a taste for Martindale's scheme, Wilson and Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett are confident they can handle and adjust to whatever the veteran coordinator throws at them.

In the last week of the preseason vs the G-Men, Wilson played five series and completed 11-of-18 passes for 107 yards, no touchdowns or interceptions and led one drive ending in a 29-yard field goal.

"It's a great challenge," Hackett said. "I thought [the pressure] was something that [Wilson] had to face during the preseason, because it was a lot of the same stuff in the preseason. You're probably going to see more, because it doesn't count, so there's going to be a lot of experimentation. So, for us, it allows us to take all the different things that we do, all the different protections that we have, all the different runs that we have, and truly learn the nuts and bolts on why we try to do each thing, so it allows him to get a better understanding of that."

Wilson added: "It's kind of one of those things you feel like as well as the coaches are preparing you and as well as you feel like you know it, it's like we'll see on gameday. You got to be able to handle it and do it out there."

Despite the high blitz rate, the Giants are No. 18 in the league in pressures (51) and No. 30 in sacks (11). If they can handle the blitz, the Jets should have opportunities for more explosive pass plays.

See photos of the Jets during practice on Thursday afternoon at 1 Jets Drive.

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