PITTSBURGH — It’s your team again, Kid, your 2022 debut, your first chance, on this Sunday, to begin to take the second-year leap your franchise expects from you, and your fan base hopes and prays you will take.
You get a mulligan for your rookie season because, hell, even Trevor Lawrence slipped on the banana peels that were left behind by Urban Meyer.
But you’re not a rookie anymore.
It is now time for you to announce who and what you are, and maybe one day will be, as a quarterback.
Because it is this simple: There will be no receipts for Jets head coach Robert Saleh to keep if you fail to be the quarterback the organization drafted you second overall to be.
Are you who they think you are?
Or are you Sam Darnold?
“I’m so tired of hearing about arm talent. … He can throw it through a rainstorm. … Quarterback play is so much more than that,” ESPN NFL analyst Louis Riddick told The Post regarding the Jets; second-year quarterback Zach Wilson, who will make his 2022 debut Sunday against the Steelers. “But he’s one of those guys who you have basically no answers on yet. Zero. None. So your guess is as good as mine about how he’s going to be.”
Lead your team, command the huddle, calm the huddle when you need to, inspire confidence, show you know how to play the position, don’t miss the gimme passes, make those theatric off-platform throws when you need to improvise, and for crying out loud, don’t tempt the fates again and instead get out of bounds or slide when discretion is the better part of valor when you use your legs.
No one is asking you to have your first 300-yard game Sunday at Pittsburgh. But it shouldn’t be asking too much for you to be the better quarterback, with Mitch Trubisky testing the patience of Steelers fans, who are counting the days until Mike Tomlin turns to rookie Kenny Pickett.
You have better playmakers and more playmakers than you did in 2021, and given the state of your battered offensive line, you will need them.
Garrett Wilson broke out while you were forced to watch Joe Flacco hold the fort, and as much as you always trust where Braxton Berrios is going to be, as much as you need to build on the connection you finally developed with Elijah Moore (six catches, 77 yards, one touchdown) in your last game together last season, do yourself a favor and pepper Garrett Wilson with targets as early and as often as possible. Thanks
The front office got you tight ends Tyler Conklin (18-140-1) and C.J. Uzomah (1-5), and it might not be a bad idea to get both of them involved, as long as you can avoid safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
But the Jets’ current pass-run ratio (156-57) is not sustainable. You have two capable dual-threat running backs who can be a young quarterback’s best friend.
“When we have run the ball, we’ve been efficient with it,”’ rookie running back Breece Hall told The Post, “but like you said, we do need to run the ball more. I’m confident that [offensive coordinator Mike] LaFleur will fix that. We have a very running back-friendly offense, so I feel like he’s gonna do everything in his power to get us the ball as often as we need it.”
Now, much was made of your late-season rebound in 2021, zero interceptions across the last five games, and there should be nowhere to go but up from the ghastly 55.6 completion percentage.
“When you talk about decision-making,” Riddick told The Post, “the game seemed very, very, very, very, very, very, very fast for him. That makes sense, he’s a rookie. He’s on a football team that needs a lot more around him.”
Much was also made of your beefier physique. Much was also made of Homie Hopper-gate.
“I wish their offensive line was healthy so we get a better evaluation, but they’ve really upgraded the skill positions around him. … He just needs to make the simple things simple,” NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah told The Post. “He’s made some unbelievable ‘wow’ plays, but he’s turned some easy things into hard things. He’s gotta just make the mundane, boring play. I’m hoping to see that next step from him. If he does that, they’ve got guys that can do stuff with the ball in their hands, so I think he’ll be well on his way.
“But if you get out of this season and he’s still missing layups and missing shallow crosses and swing passes, then you’re gonna have to reevaluate that one.”
Riddick called the Jets-Falcons game during the preseason.
“When they get off the bus, come out of the locker room, come out of the tunnel, whatever cliché you want to use,” Riddick told The Post, “they look like a team that should kick your ass.”
OK, kid, kick ass. Here comes your 14-game season. Your head coach keeps telling everyone that you are the future. Your future is now.