Dalvin Cook: Jets are Zach Wilson's team now, 'we got his back'

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) on the field after the game. The Jets defeat the Bills in overtime, 22-16, in the home opener at MetLife Stadium.
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) on the field after the game. The Jets defeat the Bills in overtime, 22-16, in the home opener at MetLife Stadium. / Danielle Parhizkaran/ / USA TODAY NETWORK

After the Minnesota Vikings released him in June, running back Dalvin Cook remained a free agent until after training camps started around the NFL. And while he spoke with other teams, his signing in New York had an air of inevitability as the Jets trade for Aaron Rodgers offered an opportunity to play with the future Hall of Fame quarterback and be on a serious Super Bowl contender.

Now, just one game into the season, Rodgers’ season is over and third-year quarterback Zach Wilson now carries the weight of picking up the pieces.

“Zach going to be Zach, he gonna play the game,” Cook said Wednesday about the new starting quarterback.

“One thing I do like about him, I like his operation, he come into the huddle with a lot of confidence ready to deliver, no panic in him. I got a lot of confidence in him,” he added. “The past is the past, and from what I’ve seen, Zach is our guy. We gotta rock out with him, we gotta go do what we need to do.

“We gotta be better around him and I feel like we will. Just helping him make some plays and take a lot off him.”

Wilson, who came in on the first series of Monday night’s 22-16 overtime win over the Buffalo Bills, said after the game his job going forward is to “close the gap” between himself and Rodgers. And part of doing that echoes what Cook said, “rely on the guys around me because we have some very talented guys.”

“Trust my feet, trust my coaches, trust the guys around me, rely on this defense that we have,” Wilson said Monday. “And progressively rely on everything I feel like I’ve done in preseason and training camp as well.”

Cook said that the Jets' running back room – Breece Hall, Michael Carter and Israel Abanikanda – knows they “can take a lot of pressure off of Zach.”

“Just controlling the ground and the receivers are gonna do what they need to do, but I think the ground game is in good hands,” Cook said.

When asked if he believes that means there will be a greater emphasis placed on the run game, Cook said that while they were successful against the Bills – RBs had 166 yards on 24 carries -- “we gonna put the ball in Zach’s hands and we gonna let him do what he do.”

“I don’t think it’s no holdback of what we trying to do. It’s Zach’s team and let’s go try to win,” he said.

About the trip to Dallas coming up, he added: “Just being around Zach, I just feel like he’s one of those guys that just wanna have fun playin the game… just having that confidence in everything, Zach know we got his back and we gonna rock out come Sunday.”

When Cook learned that Rodgers’ season was over after just four plays, he said it was a “tough blow, man, to just a great guy, great human being.”

“It just break my heart, for him,” Cook added. “I been through injuries in this league and I see a guy put so much into the game and just for it to happen like that. The game cheats you sometimes, and that was just one of those cheats.”

The running back admitted that Rodgers “was a big part of me coming here and trying to build something up and go chase what we chasing,” but that “the goal is still the same for us to go do what we need to do.”

With a wry smile seemingly acknowledging the cosmic irony of this missed opportunity, Cook added, "I just wanted to take a carry from 8, man, and just get one from a great, man," referencing Rodgers' number. "The game cheats you sometimes. And I ain’t get that one.”