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Zach Wilson’s bright spots can’t hide that he’s not the Jets’ franchise QB

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Under the lights Thursday night at MetLife Stadium, Jets fans will get an up close and personal look at what the budding young quarterback is like. Unfortunately, Trevor Lawrence will throw passes to the visiting Jaguars.

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Zack Wilson? He’ll probably start again for the home team, unless the Jets and/or Mike White can find a medical professional who thinks it’s a good idea to expose a guy’s ribcage to the game’s naked brutality.

Perhaps Wilson will light it up against Jacksonville and start a surprising streak of booms that will extend into next season and beyond. Perhaps the No. 2 pick in the 2021 draft will start his rise to stardom by besting the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 draft — hey, Wilson beat Lawrence last year with both legs — and finally enjoy the last laugh at the expense of haters about to deem him a bust.

Funny things happen in professional football, and overcoming his struggles and honoring his advertised potential is sure to be tough.

But the evidence continues to conflict with this possibility. Lawrence, for one, looks just like the part of an NFL franchise player, and not just because he’s 6-foot-6, 4-inches taller than Wilson. On Sunday, Lawrence threw for four touchdowns and 318 yards The Jaguars upset the Cowboys, 40-34, in overtime.

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Zach Wilson reacts during the Jets' loss to the Lions.
Zach Wilson reacts during the Jets’ loss to the Lions.
Bill Costron/New York Post

In his last three wins—over Dallas, Tennessee, and Baltimore—Lawrence threw for 1,007 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 1 interception. He showed huge improvement from last year and made 31 out of 31 possible starts.

Wilson showed almost no improvement from his rookie season and missed 10 career starts due to injury and subpar performance.

That doesn’t mean it rained all over Wilson’s return to the field on Sunday after three weeks of watching White play his position at a higher level. flashes during A crushing loss 20-17 to the LionsWilson showed everyone what Jets general manager Joe Douglas saw when he decided that the BYU quarterback could be the one to finally carry the franchise to its first championship since January 1969.

He rolled left in the second quarter and shot deep to his right—a tribute to the Pro Day newspaper that turned the sport of off-season talent hunting on its ear—to find CJ Uzomah for a 40-yard score. He rolled to his right in the final seconds of the game, showed special sportsmanship to escape rushing, and threw to his left to find Elijah Moore for the 20-yard touchdown needed to break up the last second of overtime.

Sadly, Greg Zuerlin missed the 58th yard that could have dramatically changed the story of the day for Wilson and every teammate eager to appear in the Jets’ first playoff game since 2010. “Obviously,” DJ Reed said, Everyone is devastated.”

Zack Wilson
Zach Wilson still doesn’t look like a franchise QB.
Corey Sipkin for NY Post
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Wilson certainly felt it the most. Had Zuerlein made the field goal attempt, the quarterback could have played the hero in overtime. Heck, if the venerable Jets defense stopped fourth-and-one after the two-minute warning instead of surrendering a 51-yard run to an undrafted tight end, Wilson’s second scoring pass a few minutes earlier would have gone into the books as the winner.

“I gotta be better, man,” Wilson admitted afterwards.

He missed several relatively easy passes and threw a monstrous interception in a brutal third quarter, giving Detroit a field goal.

“And you see how those three points come back to bite us at the end,” Wilson said.

Fans booed him at times, and Garrett Wilson again showed his frustration when Zach Wilson missed him up the middle. But the young wide receiver and quarterback later embraced on the sidelines.

“This boy is a killer,” said Garrett Wilson. “And any time you go into a game and see the pace of the game and get a man covered and you haven’t been in that position for three weeks, it’s going to be tough for you. And I thought he handled it really well, man. He showed a lot of tenacity, especially towards the end of the game, Where he made some of the throws he did and stood there, giving us a chance to win the game. And that’s all you can ask for.”

Jets head coach Robert Salih didn’t stick with Wilson for the Jacksonville game, and didn’t seem thrilled with the overall performance, saying Wilson “played well” but noting he still needed technical adjustments after all that groundwork. The truth is valid It would have helped Wilson manage his time on that final driveSomething better than 50 yards on 22 carries would have helped him to run and pitch.

Zack Wilson, left.  Garrett Wilson embraces on the sidelines.
Zack Wilson, left. Garrett Wilson embraces on the sidelines.
Corey Sipkin for NY Post

More than anything, Wilson needs to help himself.

He said, “I’ve got a lot of plays that I want to get back, and so until I can get it right and make it easy, I have to keep learning and just try to get better at it.”

Maybe Zach Wilson will improve enough to become a thriving franchise player like Thursday night’s nemesis, Trevor Lawrence. But for now, the odds are stacked against her.

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