The New York Jets expect to see a bigger and better Zach Wilson in 2022. He’s already checked the “bigger” box.
After finishing last season at 208 pounds, the sophomore quarterback showed up for OTA workouts this week at 221 pounds — a designed weight gain that happened with the help of a nutritionist and ‘a chef. And a serious will.
“I have a bad sweet tooth, so that was a challenge,” Wilson told reporters Tuesday after the Jets’ first open practice.
Listed at 6ft 2in, Wilson eliminated cookies, cakes and other sugary temptations from his carefully scripted diet. He said the keys are managing the proportions and eating at the right time, which results in what he calls “the right weight.”
“I feel better, for sure,” he said. “The energy, the ability to have that stamina throughout training, is better. In the long run, once we come into a game when we’re actually touched and tackled, having more size on me will help . “
One of Wilson’s best attributes is his quickness in the pocket. He doesn’t believe the 13-pound weight gain will compromise his ability to evade smugglers. At the start of the season, he wants his player weight to be 218.
“I just feel like a better athlete with more weight, for some reason,” he said.
Coach Robert Saleh, describing Wilson’s physique, used the word “thick”. The Jets, who drafted Wilson second overall in 2021, also expect him to grow mentally in the second year.
“He looks good, he’s confident, he smiles, he expresses himself,” Saleh said. “I’ve said it before, you can always tell the level of confidence and their understanding of what they’re being asked to do by the volume of their voice, and it gets pretty loud.”
Wilson’s rookie season was tough. He finished 30th out of 31 qualified passers in Total QBR (28.2). He went 3-10 as a starter, with 2,334 yards, nine touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a 55.6% completion rate.
The front office has beefed up its supporting cast this offseason, signing tight ends CJ Uzomah and Tyler Conklin in free agency and signing wide receiver Garrett Wilson (first round) and running back Breece Hall (second round).
The pressure will be on Wilson to galvanize his young and talented supporting cast.
“I feel like all of the staff, from the general manager to the property, these guys have done a great job getting the parts we need,” he said. “I think it comes down to my job. Now I have to do my job to get the ball to these playmakers. How do I get these big tight ends, these really good receivers and running backs into space? and do what we brought that they are here to do?”
The Jets are only expected to win 5.5 games, according to the Caesars Sportsbook over-under, but there’s plenty of optimism around the team after its strong draft.
“Yeah, absolutely, we’re definitely going to be better,” Wilson said. “I don’t think we’ll be able to tell until the first game, but the improvement is there. We’ve got the talent, we’ve got the guys. Now can we tie it all together and put something together?”