Zach Wilson can deliver Jets a holiday gift – out-duel Trevor Lawrence

The best Christmas gift for the Jets fan would come on Sunday, just in time for Santa to be removed from the reserve/COVID-19 list.

He doesn’t even have to deliver a win.

Is it asking too much for him to deliver Jets fans a game in which Trevor Lawrence, the quarterback they almost had, is out-dueled at MetLife Stadium by Zach Wilson, the quarterback they do have?

Ho-ho-ho for once, anyone?

Is it asking too much for Wilson to send Jets fans skipping into the New Year thinking that maybe, just maybe, their rookie quarterback is nobody’s consolation prize?

Lawrence is still trying to recover from the Urban Meyer Experience — as are the Jaguars, who couldn’t even beat the Davis Mills Texans last week.

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Wilson is still trying to learn how to play the way Mike White did before that fleeting fairytale unceremoniously ended.

It is a sliver of solace for Jets fans who never pondered any Tank for Zach mission that Lawrence has nine touchdowns against 14 interceptions, and a reminder that even generational quarterback prospects can find themselves thrown in the deep end of the pool at a time when they wish Michael Phelps could show up and throw them a lifeline.

Just because misery loves company doesn’t mean you love misery. Especially after decades of mostly misery.

Zach Wilson at Jets practice Friday.
Zach Wilson at Jets practice Friday.
Bill Kostroun/New York Post

A win over a 2-12 outfit with an interim head coach would be nice, but it would only mean that 3-11 became 4-11.

Which is what Jets fans should have expected with a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback walking together on the hot coals of rebuilding.

COVID-infected head coach Robert Saleh needs more players and seasoning — and is expected to watch tight ends coach Ron Middleton make his head coaching debut — but more than anything, he needs Wilson to be the long-lost answer to the eternal hole that has been the position of franchise quarterback, or he will have no chance here.

The 2021 mission statement hasn’t changed. From Day 1 it has been about Wilson’s development.

You have to learn how to walk before you can run, but Sunday will be a day when Wilson needs to stop crawling, when he needs to take more than a baby step here, a baby step there.

Because it is easy to make the argument that this will mark his last chance to titillate the fan base with his well-chronicled arm talent, considering that a ravenous Buccaneers defense, followed by a regular-season finale in wintry Buffalo against a Bills team that could be fighting for a division title, await.

Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur called his baby-faced quarterback “the ultimate competitor,” and that is no small thing. You need your quarterback to be a fighter.

It will take time, of course, for Wilson to grow into the ultimate quarterback. There have been too many predictable instances when Wilson appears lost. If he hasn’t been holding the ball too long, he has been missing gimme throws that only Christian Hackenberg likely would have missed. If he hasn’t been throwing interceptions (11), he hasn’t been throwing touchdown passes (6) either.

Trevor Lawrence
Trevor Lawrence
Getty Images

It’s not as if Wilson has been wrapped in the kind of warm cocoon that Mac Jones lucked into in New England. Wilson lost his experienced quarterbacks coach, Gregg Knapp, to a devastating summer tragedy. His offensive coordinator, LaFleur, is a rookie. His left tackle, Mekhi Becton, might be on some Blue Origin flight for all we know. He won’t have his two best receivers, Corey Davis and Elijah Moore, on Christmas Sunday, and Jamison Crowder is doubtful. His defense can’t stop the run and has left him rotting on the sidelines for long stretches, when it hasn’t forced him to play catch-up.

Lawrence had the misfortune of being saddled with Meyer, but most remain steadfast in the belief that with a new head coach, he will fulfill his manifest destiny as an upper-echelon quarterback.

The last thing the Jets and their fans want is to head into an 11th straight January watching the playoffs (with their team watching along with them) knowing that Zach Wilson will carry the burden of franchise quarterback proof into another winter of their discontent.

Here comes Santa? Or no-no-no?

Artmotion U.S.A

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