The practice part of the Jets' mandatory full-squad minicamp concluded on Wednesday. And Zach Wilson is well aware that his heavy lifting has only just begun.
"It's hard to say exactly how you did," Wilson told reporters about his minicamp experience. "I feel I can improve every single day, I feel like I'm learning something every single day. Even on the good days, it's still frustrating, and it's just because it's like a foreign language. Every day it's the same plays but you're getting different reps, different looks at it, different coverages, whatever it is.
"One of our running backs said to me after practice today that it's hard to know sometimes if it was a good day or a bad day."
That being said, Wilson knows progress is being made. Asked where he might have improved most since being drafted second overall in April and then going through two minicamps and multiple OTAs in May and June, he didn't hesitate.
"I'd say just the timing of the NFL game. Understanding what holes you can throw into, how quickly guys can break on things, just the timing of your footwork. And I think that comes with understanding the offense," he said.
"I look back on college, you're running the same offense for three years so you know it like the back of your hand. Out here, you're always just a step slow at first. It's just how fast can I get through my progression to where I don't even have to think about it, if something's covered, I instantly know how to move on. I think that's the key, that's what I've gotten better with, and same with the other quarterbacks as well."
Greg Knapp, the Jets' passing game specialist whose role has him heavily involved with the QBs, agrees that speed is key, not only on the field but in the preparation before taking the field.
"Fast study," Knapp said, describing Wilson in two words. "He's done a good job of minimizing mistakes. You've got to expect mistakes from anyone who's starting first time in any profession. And I'm seeing very minimal same-mistake-twice. So he learns quickly from his mistakes, and that's impressive to see from a young guy. He's a big-time student of the game."
And what would you expect for a guy who opens the popcorn when he binge-watches game video?
"I've always looked at film like my time away from football, honestly," he said. "I feel like that's when you can rest your legs a little bit and hang out. I'm not saying I work extremely hard — there's always someone working harder than you — but I don't love feeling unprepared, I don't love feeling like I'm not ready for something. I love always having that something-new kind of feeling every day in practice. You don't know what kind of defense they're going to throw at you and there's always something new to prepare for and get better at."
And that includes the next six weeks, when in theory the training center is dark and the players go on one last "vacation" before really entering the league. Wilson knows that time will also disappear quickly and some of it can be spent getting together with his receivers offsite for some early summer fine-tuning.
"I think that's critical in understanding how an offense flows together," he said. "Not only are we out here looking at different coverages and trying to get our footwork and routes, timing, progression locked up, but now you've got to make the throw. These are all guys that we haven't had a lot of experience throwing to. I think that's needed, to be able to talk through routes, what they're thinking, what things they're going to do against certain coverages, where they're going to step things off at. You get a feel for how they are as route runners. So I think that's pretty critical and we'll make sure we find some time to get together."
That is, before they spend a whole lot more time together once training camp, the preseason and the regular season begin.