CANTON, Ohio — The last time Zach Wilson played in a game was the Thursday night debacle against the Jaguars in late December.
He was benched for Chris Streveler, looked like a quarterback without any confidence and turned in a performance that confirmed the Jets had to find a new starter for 2023.
Hey, it can’t get any worse.
He will return to the field Thursday night in the Hall of Fame Game against the Browns.
Aaron Rodgers is now the Jets’ starting quarterback, but he won’t play in this preseason game.
That leaves Wilson to start and get to show what progress, if any, he has made since last season.
Wilson has not spoken to the media during training camp, but others have praised his growth.
He has had some good moments and some not-so-good moments during practice as he adjusts to life as an NFL backup.
“I think definitely some maturity, for sure,” Rodgers said when asked what he has seen from Wilson. “As much as anything, I hope that this time for him is like a deep inhale and exhale. That he can really like take a breath and pause and sit with the disappointment of last year and the frustration and then channel it.
“I feel like he has, but just reach in and channel it to a positive and focus on the opportunity in front of him. To learn with a guy who loves him and cares about him and wants him to be great and wants him to do incredible things every day and to get better. Then just go be himself and look at this as a chance to reset. I think he’s done it.”
The Jets have praised how Wilson has handled their trade for Rodgers.
The 2021 No. 2 overall pick is no longer The Guy around the Jets.
The former face of the franchise is now just another face among 90 players in camp.
Rodgers is front and center, and has earned universal praise.
“It’s a tough position,” Rodgers said of what Wilson is dealing with. “You’re the guy, you dealt with all the stuff last year. His play on the field, the frustration, some of the stuff that he said, and the stuff that was said about him, which is probably the most difficult by his teammates and by some of you all, and now he’s got a chance to kind of reset that whole thing, take back the narrative. I think he’s done a great job. He’s played really, really well in camp.”
Head coach Robert Saleh said Wilson has regained his confidence.
“I feel that he’s very confident right now, like he’s gained confidence and not necessarily in his ability to go out there and play,” Saleh said. “Just in his decision making and what he’s doing play in and play out. You just feel that from him. You can see it in him, just how decisive he is with a football in his hands. It’s not where we think he can, but he definitely looks confident, he looks comfortable and he’s definitely moving in the right direction.”