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Mike LaFleur and the role of QB confidence in QB development

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NFL: New York Jets at Buffalo Bills Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Rosenblatt of the Athletic recently released a report detailing the locker room drama surrounding the New York Jets offense. Among the more eye-popping aspects of the report is that of the relationship between former Jets offensive coordinator and current (at least for now) Jets Quarterback Zach Wilson. More specifically, Blatt reports;

Over the offseason, LaFleur and quarterbacks coach Rob Calabrese studied what worked for Wilson in 2021 and what didn’t. There was some level of frustration. LaFleur would tell people how much more effective the offense looked with quarterbacks [Joe] Flacco, Josh Johnson and especially [Mike] White. The stats backed it up.

This is a huge departure from approximately a year before when the Jets selected Zach Wilson 2nd overall, apparently with LaFleur’s full support as the Jets felt Zach was a great fit for their scheme.

Regardless of one’s opinion of Zach Wilson, I think most can agree that having a boss who is willing to put you down to others (and perhaps to your face given the culture of an NFL team) to this extent isn’t the most positive developmental environment. Indeed, it would be easy for Zach Wilson’s confidence to fade a bit if he was aware his boss thought this poorly of him.

Some may say that the role of these types of comments from LaFleur about Zach Wilson are irrelevant to the eventual failures that Zach experienced in 2022. However, the words of another young quarterback may imply otherwise.

As shown in the above video, Jacksonville Jaguars Quarterback Trevor Lawrence was interviewed by ESPN prior to his week play-in game against the Tennessee Titans (full interview shown here). Within the above snippet of that interview, Trevor discusses what he attributes to his year 2 “breakout.”

Jeff Darlington (reporter): “Where do you pinpoint the improvement in your game and how you were able to actually get there?

Trevor Lawrence: “In order to play this game at a high level, you have to be really, really confident. I think I lacked that the last, you know, year or so prior to this run we’ve gone on... I just have to go play free.”

In Zach’s case, I think it’s quite apparent his confidence has faded. Watching the tape from his early rookie year version and the current version of him is night and day, to put it lightly. While regaining confidence in and of itself may not be enough to get Zach to live up to his pre-draft pedigree, it certainly could not hurt his overall level of play.

But what do you think? Is it possible that LaFleur’s frustrations with Zach may have played a role in Zach’s worsening play? Or are these reports about the relationship between Zach and LaFleur much ado about nothing?