Jets QB Zach Wilson gets high praise from Falcons coach Arthur Smith: 'You see his talent'

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Arthur Smith cropped 10/3
Arthur Smith cropped 10/3

Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson has first-year Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith's attention ahead of Sunday's Week 5 game in London.

Asked about Wilson, who was named the NFL's Rookie of the Week Thursday after leading New York (1-3) to a 27-24 overtime win over the Tennessee Titans this past Sunday, the offensive-minded Smith was high on Gang Green's future.

"Live arm," Smith said of Wilson. "I mean, you can see it. Always a challenge. ... I mean, he's a talented thrower and he can make all the throws and get out. At the end of the day he extends plays and can make every throw on the field. That's what I saw."

Wilson completed 21 of 34 passes (61.8%) for 297 yards and two touchdowns to one interception in Week 4's victory against the Titans, but the previous three starts were shaky.

Headlined by a four-interception showing in Week 2's 25-6 loss to the New England Patriots, Wilson completed 58 of 105 passes (55.2%) for 628 yards and two touchdowns to seven picks through his first three games before he bounced back.

Smith, who was an assistant with the Titans from 2011-20 and served as Tennessee's offensive coordinator his final two seasons, brought up Peyton Manning as an example of how the ceiling remains high for rookie quarterbacks like Wilson.

Zach Wilson, of the New York Jets, is shown before the game. Sunday, October 3, 2021.
Zach Wilson, of the New York Jets, is shown before the game. Sunday, October 3, 2021.

"When you look at the Titans game -- when he got outside of the pocket, he made them pay," Smith said. "I mean, he's deadly accurate off schedule. So we know he's going to be a tremendous challenge. That's an area we've got to improve. But like I said, with all of these guys, the NFL's a tough transition. That's why these hot takes -- same thing we're dealing with (Falcons rookie tight end) Kyle (Pitts), there is growth. But you can't make these snap judgments. A lot of times in society -- and it's great for the game, so much hype and everything's in our face 24/7 and social media, whatever it is. The hype can be almost overwhelming.

"The truth is let's see how this thing plays out at the end of the year, between guys that have massive rookie years and then they fall off a cliff, between guys that have bad rookie years and then go on and have hall-of-fame careers. That's why I look at these quarterbacks -- like, I don't get caught up in whatever the narrative is after four weeks.

"You go back and look at someone like Peyton Manning. I believe he had the all-time (single-season record) interception as a rookie and, look, he's arguably one of the best to ever do it. So it's harder now to have perspective. Everything's so instant gratification. And so, I guess on a bigger picture, a lot of these rookies, people want to hammer 'em on things. They're some talented players. That position at quarterback is really hard to play. And you see it. You see his talent. And we've got to be ready to go, because he can expose us."