Jets second-year quarterback Zach Wilson has become an obstacle to the team making the playoffs. The Jets have a Super Bowl caliber defense, enough talent at the skill positions and are managing an offensive line that has been weakened by injuries but stable enough to give them a chance to win.
But it is Wilson, who holds the most important position in football, who has shown a lack of understanding of how to play quarterback at the NFL level and shown poor leadership that is hurting the team. The Jets had a crushing loss to the New England Patriots on the road this past Sunday that in large part can be placed on the arm, brain and emotion of the 23-year-old who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft out of BYI with the expectation he would be the Jets’ long-term franchise QB. Up to this point, he’s looked like a third-string backup and acted like a spoiled child.
With 26 seconds remaining in the game on Sunday and the score tied 3-3, the Jets punted from their own 32-yard line. The Patriots’ rookie punt returner Marcus Jones fielded the kick by the Jets’ punter Braden Mann at the 16-yard line and returned 84 yards for a shocking touchdown. The Patriots converted the extra and closed the game with a 10-3 win.
“It’s crazy,” said Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner. “That’s something that happens in a video game or something.” It was the 14th consecutive loss by the Jets to the Patriots dating back to 2016. It also dropped them to 6-4 and last place in the AFC East. The Patriots, who are 6-4, have the tie-breaker over the Jets after beating them twice this season.
“It’s a crappy way to lose,” said Jets head coach Robert Saleh. “They made a play and we didn’t.”
Wilson showed immaturity and a lack of self-awareness with his one-word answer when asked after the game if his poor play let the Jets’ defense down. “No,” was his reply, even though he went just 9-22 for 77 yards in the 20th start of his pro career. Patriots second-year QB Mac Jones was 23-27 for 246 yards.
“It’s tough, especially when the defense did all we could do, and only allowed a field goal,”
“We were thinking there was going to be overtime. We were getting ready for it. The defense, we were ready to put everything on our shoulders. Unfortunately, we didn’t get there.”
Jets rookie receiver Garrett Wilson was more direct and emotional in explaining the Jets’ loss: “We got our ass beat on offense.”
Saleh had not made a decision as to who will be the Jets’ starting QB this Sunday when they play the Chicago Bears at MetLife Stadium. But if it isn’t Joe Flacco or Mike White, who have been behind Wilson on the team’s depth chart, Saleh will potentially have a divide in the locker room.