Zach Wilson pondered the math for a moment and marveled.
Tom Brady, the quarterback who will be on the other side of the field from him Sunday, is twice the age of the Jets’ rookie quarterback.
“I was born in 1999 and his first year in the NFL was in , which is pretty crazy to think about,’’ Wilson said Thursday as his Jets prepared to host the Buccaneers. “My entire life I’ve known him he’s been in the NFL. I think just knowing the fact that he’s still going and I’m able to play against him is really cool because I’ve obviously watched him my whole life. So, I think it’ll just be exciting, the NFL works like that.’’
While Wilson doesn’t share Brady’s experience or accolades, he does share a birthday. Brady was born on Aug. 3, 1977, and Wilson on Aug. 3, 1999.
“It’s funny, I think I’ve known that since I was in elementary school or something, somehow, I found that out,’’ Wilson said. “Maybe it was social media, someone posted the same day. I’ve always thought that was just kind of cool, the same August birthday. But the cool thing was I think he was born in 1977 and I was born in 1999, so 22 years later, which is crazy, right? To be playing the same game.’’
Wilson said the Jets’ coaches often use tape of Brady in offensive meetings “because he’s a great example to learn from as far as just fundamentals and always having your feet in the ground and ready to throw.’’
“A lot of the times when we play against teams that he’s played against, that’s always a game I’ll flip on, just to see how the greatest quarterback was able to go through it and the things that he did maybe that helped him to do well in that game,’’ Wilson said.
“I can think of a million adjectives to throw at this guy,’’ Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said Thursday. “He is undoubtedly the best quarterback that’s ever played this game, for so many reasons. It’s exciting for a young defense like ours. A lot of them have never played against him, to go and see what you’re made of against the best. So, they’re excited about it, which is crazy, but they’re excited about it.’’
Ulbrich, who coached two NFC South division games against Brady last season when he was with the Falcons, called it “extremely frustrating’’ not to find any drop-off with age.
“Every time I throw on the tape when I have to plan, I’m anticipating and hoping that there’s going to be some sort of, you know, he’s falling off and his skill is declining and it’s not at all, which is astounding,’’ he said. “So, it’s a great challenge. This is why you coach, this is why you play, to go against opponents like this and see what you’re made of.
“He can definitely affect your sleep patterns when we prepare for this guy. It’s a game that you play, because you’d like to try to deceive, you’d like to do some different things. The problem is once the ball is snapped and you start going where you’re going, there’s nothing he hasn’t seen.
“People for the past 20 years have tried to manipulate him and tried to get him off his mark and confuse him and it happens very, very rarely. So ultimately, we’re going to have to challenge and we’re going to have to win our one-on-one battles and that’s what it comes down to. And it’s going to be an all-day event.’’