Tiki: Still 'imperative' for Jets to develop Zach Wilson down the stretch of this season


Mike White showed what the Jets offense can be with strong quarterback play during Sunday’s blowout win over the Bears, but Tiki Barber says it is still crucial for Gang Green to let Zach Wilson work through his growing pains for the sake of the franchise’s future.

Sure, White is the talk of the town one year after bursting onto the scene when Wilson was injured, but if Wilson is still to be the team’s franchise quarterback, he has to be allowed to play through his struggles and find his way, though the Jets turning themselves into a winning football team has complicated that initiative.

“They became a very good football squad…this is now a top five defense in the NFL. The emphasis became not on developing the quarterback, but that ‘we have to win,’” Tiki said.

“To me, it is still imperative that Zach Wilson get developed and turn into that player they drafted at the second overall pick last year. That’s easier said than done, because the way to do that is the way the Giants did with Eli Manning in 2004. You just kind of toll the season, it sucks, you’ll lose four or five games in a row…but he’ll learn on the job.”

The Jets are battling for a playoff spot at the moment and can’t afford the level of play Wilson was providing before being benched, but an emphasis on this season could come at the cost of future seasons if Wilson is still the hopeful answer and face of the franchise.

“The question now, and this is where I’m really gonna judge Robert Saleh and Mike LaFleur…How do you redevelop Zach Wilson and get him back on a path to be an A starting quarterback in the NFL?” Tiki said. “How do you do that in the next month and a half, so by the end of the season, you’re not going into next season saying, ‘Zach Wilson is a bust?’”

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