On Wednesday head coach Robert Saleh announced that rookie QB Zach Wilson and wide receiver Corey Davis were selected by their teammates as offensive captains. C.J. Mosley and Folorunso Fatukasi were voted defensive captains, and Justin Hardee was tabbed as the leader on special teams.
"I think it's an honor," Wilson told reporters on Wednesday afternoon. "It's a role I take seriously. But I'm not surprised, as a quarterback you should be in that role no matter what. The quarterback touches everything. Regardless, it's kind of how things should be."
In his comments earlier in the day, Saleh said that he and his staff have been impressed by Wilson's willingness to stretch his legs and get to know his teammates away from the field.
"It's more of testament to him and the way he's been able to conduct himself here," Saleh said. "You go to the cafeteria and you see him hanging with the offensive linemen. He's an intense personality and it [being named captain by his teammates] is a credit to the way he's handled himself."
Wilson, the No. 2 overall selection in last April's NFL Draft, said that he has made a conscious effort to exert his influence and personality beyond the meeting rooms, the film room and between the white lines.
"I think something that I've tried to work on myself is my personal emotional connection off the field," Wilson, 22, said. "On the field I want to be looked to. Then off the field I want to get to know and understand my teammates and where they came from. I want to know all their names and their stories. Part of the approach I've taken is to use that time in the cafeteria, things like that."
Perhaps it's a coincidence, but the pairing of Wilson and Davis, who signed with the Jets in free agency, as the captains on offense makes perfect sense: No. 1 QB and No. 1 WR. And while Wilson can be voluble and effusive, the soft-spoken Davis has been leading by example.
"I could gush about him for the next five minutes," Saleh said, referring to Davis. "From a coach's standpoint, when you draw up a player you couldn't have drawn it up better. The way he prepares, goes about his business, talks to his teammates ... and on top of all that, he's pretty damn good at what he does. He's everything we expected in a free-agent pickup. He's been awesome."
Davis and Wilson have been building a singular chemistry throughout the preseason, which is encouraging for the coaching staff, but by all means not the only receiving options available to the rookie QB. For his part, the veteran Davis has been impressed by his young co-captain.
"I wasn't very surprised, he's a young dude, but he's ready to lead the team," Davis said. "We wouldn't have voted for him if he wasn't ready and didn't show us something that shows he would be a good leader. He's been doing that all camp, extra work, doing a lot of things people don't see. I think he's ready for it.
"Just taking charge of the team, not only the offense, but the team. Coming in as quarterback you gotta be the guy and take charge of your huddle. He's taken huge strides taking ownership of the team, not just vocally, but leading by example."
It was pointed out to Wilson that he had not served as a captain in college at BYU, but he pointed out that the situations are quite different because he was coming off a sub-par sophomore season, was not the starter "and how do you vote him the captain? Here I've been able to be that guy."
There are myriad storylines ahead of Sunday's regular-season opener at Carolina, from the debuts of Saleh and Wilson to Wilson and former Jets QB Sam Darnold. Saleh and Wilson each tried to minimize the issue, though Saleh did disclose that before trading Darnold to the Panthers the Jets contemplated drafting Wilson and keeping both young QBs on the team.
Wilson said that he had encountered Darnold in Southern California before the trade and before the draft, calling him a "super cool guy." But the two have not spoken since.
"Sunday is my first game so I'm doing all I can to get ready," Wilson said. "Not that this isn't a big moment. It is exciting and I'm just excited to get back to playing football."
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