The Jets are a playoff caliber team. To qualify that statement, they can compete for a postseason spot if current starting quarterback Zach Wilson is benched. He may ultimately evolve into a steady, productive QB. Right now Wilson is a demonstrable liability.
To delve into a hypothetical, the Jets would have likely defeated the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium this past Sunday if either Mike White, who was listed as the No. 2 quarterback, or Joe Flacco, who was inactive but started the Jets’ first three games of the regular season while Wilson recovered from mid-August knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus suffered in the preseason opener on Aug. 12, was directing the offense.
Wilson was careless and irresponsible in the Jets’ 22-17 loss to the Patriots, a game in which Patriots head coach Bill Belichick earned his 325th win, passing the late Chicago Bears Hall of Fame coach George Halas for second all-time in NFL career victories. Former Miami Dolphins head coach Don Shula tops the list with 347.
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Wilson threw three interceptions, two to Patriots safety Devin McCourty, the 35-year-old veteran from St. Joseph’s Regional High School in Montvale, New Jersey and Rutgers University. It looked as if Wilson should have been quarterbacking a high school team on a Friday night instead of trying to lead grown men, irrespective of his 355 passing yards and two touchdowns.
The 23-year-old from BYU completed just 48.8% of passes in going 20-41. One of McCourty’s picks was the result of Wilson causally tossing the ball toward the sideline in an attempt to throw it out of bounds as he was flushed out of the pocket. Sunday’s game was Wilson’s 18th start of his fledgling pro career. Some of his mistakes were those a player with much fewer should not commit. Wilson has significant room for growth and for now the Jets are intent on affording him the latitude to try to master the mental aspects of the most important position in the sport.
“We are 5-3 because he’s done a great job taking care of the football and getting us in position to win football games along with good defense, a good run game and good special teams,” Saleh said on Monday.
“There’s been a really good formula…and the guy’s 4-1 coming back as a starter…Yesterday was not a good game just from a decision-making standpoint,” Saleh pointed out, stating the obvious. “But those three critical mistakes were backbreaking, which he recognizes. And those are the areas where let’s hit the reset button.”
Saleh, who is 9-16 in his two years as the Jets head coach, may already be in a precarious situation having to maintain the trust of his locker room, many undoubtedly perceiving White and or Flacco as giving them a better chance to win.
“I had some boneheaded plays,” said Wilson. He cannot continue to make them and expect the playoffs to be an attainable goal.
The Jets host the AFC East leading 6-1 Buffalo Bills this Sunday at MetLife Stadium.