Jets' Sheldon Rankins says Zach Wilson has embraced being 'a savior for this franchise'

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Zach Wilson prepares to throw white jersey October 2021
Zach Wilson prepares to throw white jersey October 2021

Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins expressed his confidence in quarterback Zach Wilson on Tuesday after practice, giving high praise to the rookie just five games into his NFL career.

"Obviously the big things that everybody can see, the off-schedule throws, the deep shots, being able to make throws off platform without necessarily textbook footwork or anything like that," Rankins said. "Being able to make sidearm throws, off one leg, whatever it may be, obviously everybody sees that. Just his mindset. Being able to watch him closely throughout training camp, throughout the early part of this season, you see he's a guy who's unflappable. You see he's a guy who doesn't let mistakes and bad plays or anything like that hinder his confidence and his abilities to lead this football team, and that's big.

"I think for a young guy coming into a situation like this, where a team who isn't too far removed from drafting a quarterback super high, and obviously that didn't pan out and he comes in to essentially replace that guy. He's, for lack of a better term, looked at as a savior for this franchise. He's embraced everything that comes with that, and he attacks every day with the mindset that each opportunity is an opportunity to grow and to learn from, whether it's good or bad.

Rankins, similar to Wilson, is in his first season with the Jets. He was drafted 12th overall in 2016 out of Louisville and played the first five years of his career with the New Orleans Saints. There he had the opportunity to watch future Hall of Famer Drew Brees from the sidelines, and understands what a top tier quarterback needs to do to succeed in the league.

"You can see each end every game, whether it's something big or something little, he continues to get more and more comfortable with this offense, continues to get more and more comfortable with the play speed with everything happening out there on the field. I have the utmost confidence going forward that he'll continue to lead this franchise in a great direction."

Wilson has completed 98-of-171 passes (57.3 percent) for 1,117 yards and four touchdowns with nine interceptions. He's shown flashes of greatness, and like Rankins said, will improve more with time as he gets comfortable playing in the NFL.

Rankins and the Jets have gotten off to a tough 1-4 start, and have struggled to hold opponents from scoring early in games. The lack of offense hasn't helped, as the Jets have scored just seven points in the first quarters of games this year. Rankins believes that if the defense can begin to get stops earlier in games, then that will give Wilson and the offense more confidence to go score.

"At the end of the day man, our job is go out there and get stops," Rankins said. "Obviously being in a deficit just adds that much more to it, but at the end of the day we're confident in the guys we have on defense and with our preparation and game plans we got to be able to go out there and get stops. There are times we shoot ourselves in the foot, timely penalties have cost us.

"Overall, it's just our job go out there and get stops. Just being able to come out and get stops early in the game builds that momentum, and then gets the ball back in our offense hands. We know with opportunities, Zach and those guys will get things going."