Zach Wilson feels like he has been here before.
The rookie quarterback was part of a turnaround at BYU, and now he wants to do it again with the Jets. As Wilson prepares for his first NFL game, on Sunday, he said he wants to be a key piece in raising the Jets from the bottom of the NFL to the top.
“I think that’s huge. I think that’s one of the coolest parts of the whole thing,” Wilson told The Post. “Once you’re able to make something special out of it, you remember what it was like when you had all the lows and things weren’t going the way they should have been. You’re able to pull through and get better. There’s a lot of learning experiences in that. Then it’s a lot of fun when you’re able to turn it around.”
Wilson has his work cut out for him. The Jets have missed the playoffs for 10 straight years, the most in the NFL. They have lost more games than any other team over the past five seasons. Wilson likened it to when he got to BYU and the Cougars were coming off a 4-9 season.
“It’s fun to be a part of something that flips around,” Wilson said. “It’s the same story I had at BYU. We weren’t great when I got there. We were 4-9, and then we just kept fighting through adversity and getting better every year.”
The desire to be part of the turnaround is why Wilson said he never considered pulling an Eli Manning and refusing to come to the Jets when they drafted him. There were some who told people close to Wilson that he should avoid the Jets at all costs. Wilson said no one ever suggested to him that he pull that kind of draft-day power play. He admits when his name was first linked with the Jets at the end of last season, there was some concern.
But once the Jets hired head coach Robert Saleh, he felt better about the team’s prospects.
“Early on, before the new staff had come in and some of the changes we made up front, of course you have your speculation,” Wilson said. “The other thing was it was far from home for me. Once we kind of got into it and found out who the coaches were going to be, the only thing I kept thinking about is how different teams are year-to-year. Everyone wants to go to the team that’s winning at the time. But in two years, they could be the worst in the NFL and we could be the best team. You never know where it’s going to take you.
“I was 100 percent bought in especially once we got around February because I knew who was coming in and the potential they had in ownership.”
One newspaper in Utah wrote a column begging the Jets not to take Wilson and clowning on the team’s history. Wilson said there is “absolutely” a misperception about the team.
“I think it’s tough in the NFL to consistently do it,” Wilson said. “I think you’ve kind of got to hit it right on the head with the right staff that you bring in and drafting the right players. I think it just takes time and a lot of trial and error. I definitely think we’ve got a good thing going. As far as just the want to be great and the resources and ownership giving that ability to be great, I feel like we have everything we need here.”