Zach Wilson’s Jets struggles could be case of dreaded ‘yips’


It’s a word no pro athlete wants to be associated with: the dreaded “yips.”

According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafalo, that’s what has been plaguing Zach Wilson this season to the extent the Jets benched the second-year QB for their Week 12 matchup against the Bears.

“The ‘yips’ was the word that we were told,” Rapoport said on “NFL Now” on Wednesday. “That, struggling to make simple, basic throws, trying to figure out what was wrong. Was it his mechanics, was it in his mind, why are these simple throws not able to be made? This was back during the spring.”

New York sports fans are all too familiar with the yips, a pro athlete’s sudden inability to complete simple parts of their game. Former Yankees infielder Chuck Knoblauch famously struggled to throw from second base to first in the late ’90s and early aughts, prompting a move to the outfield.

Whatever is at the heart of Wilson’s problems culminated in a dreadful 77-yard performance in Sunday’s loss to the rival Patriots.

On Wednesday, after demoting Wilson behind Mike White and Joe Flacco on the Jets’ depth chart, coach Robert Saleh seemed to confirm that something is off with the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) at practice in Florham Park, NJ. Photo by
Zach Wilson could be struggling with a case of the dreaded yips.
Bill Kostroun

“The biggest thing with Zach, and the same things we’ve talked about, is the young man needs a reset,” Saleh said. “His decision-making has been fine, his practice habits have been fine. But there is some basic, fundamental things that have gotten really out of whack for him. And this is just an opportunity for him to sit back, focus on those things, find a way to reconnect to all the different things that we fell in love with during the draft process.”

While Wilson was initially frustrated at having to take a seat, Saleh is eager to help the young QB get to the bottom of his struggles.

“It’s something I feel like he’s going to be able to do,” Saleh said. “I think to ask him to do all those things while preparing for a game is unfair. But at the same time, it’s something just talking with Zach, I think we’re all excited to attack. Is it a small step back, absolutely, for him. But do I think it’s going to be a great leap forward when he does get the chance to reset himself? Absolutely.”

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