The New York Jets’ family dynamic could change quickly if Zach Wilson can’t produce wins
For most of the sports world, the loss of Aaron Rodgers signaled a quick end to any expectations for the New York Jets this season. But head coach Robert Saleh is having everyone pump the brakes on the death of the Jets, and for good reason.
After all, the Jets have an elite defense and excellent skill position players on offense. The biggest question mark for the team is once again at quarterback.
Jets fans saw a similar situation occur last year.
Confidence. That’s the word used when talking about Zach Wilson. From Robert Saleh, and Nathaniel Hackett to the players themselves, the word has surfaced frequently. But do the Jets really have confidence in Wilson if they have to continue saying it?
From @NFLGameDay: #Jets QB Zach Wilson’s confidence has been rebuilt, putting him in a position to succeed… while QB Aaron Rodgers had a fascinating surgery. Story: https://t.co/cnf8DWAgvx and video 👇 👇 👇 pic.twitter.com/cr61bn9LY5
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 17, 2023
In the 2022 offseason, Wilson was the talk of Jets camp. There were hype videos and a general feeling of anticipation for him taking the next step. Wilson would then suffer a knee injury that caused him to miss the first three weeks of the season.
The BYU product returned in Week 4 only to play so poorly (despite the Jets winning games) that he was benched in favor of Mike White to start Week 11 against the Chicago Bears. The narrative around the Jets quickly changed.
Jets players quickly went from suggesting Wilson would take off in Year 2, to wearing “Mike F’n White” t-shirts.
wait for it… pic.twitter.com/YBki8Onpoi
— New York Jets (@nyjets) December 3, 2022
Eventually, White would go down with an injury, too. Wilson was called upon to replace White for the next two games, but his struggles continued, and the Jets would lose two consecutive home games against teams with losing records.
In his second start relieving White, Wilson was benched for Chris Streveler, a former CFL quarterback who is not currently on an NFL roster. White returned for the following week but went down with another injury ahead of the season finale. At that point, it wasn’t Wilson who the Jets turned to – it was Joe Flacco.
Wilson played so poorly that even Saleh acknowledged that it was time to hit the reset button on their third overall pick from 2021.
“Putting him out there right now, it’s not going to do him any good,” said Saleh on whether or not he would start Wilson in the team’s finale. “It’s not going to do anyone any good. For him [Wilson], it’s all about ’23.”
While that sounded nice, the Jets would trade for Aaron Rodgers in the offseason. In essence, they were trying to kick the Wilson can down the road. Those plans were foiled when Rodgers tore his Achilles in Week 1, forcing Wilson back into the starting role. Suddenly, a team that was favored to make the playoffs found itself back in the same place as a year ago.
With Wilson under center for most of the game, the Jets squeaked out a win against the Buffalo Bills in Week 1. However, in Wilson’s first start, the Jets suffered a 30-10 blowout loss in Dallas. We can give Wilson a mulligan for Week 1 considering the circumstances, but Week 2 left a lot to be desired.
Wilson shouldn’t shoulder the entire burden of the 20-point loss, as the defense and offensive line endured rough outings. Still, Wilson only threw for 170 yards with three interceptions.
Speaking to the media, the team is pointing to the offensive line as the main culprit for the Jets’ struggles.
Garrett Wilson on ESPN Radio:
“If you watch the game, you can tell Zach was on his toes because of what was going on around him.”
Seems like Garrett is not happy with the offensive line#Jets
— Optimistic Jets (@OptimisticJets) September 19, 2023
While there is definitely truth to that, the support around Wilson is likely to dissipate if the Jets can’t muster anything in the win column.
The Jets play the New England Patriots in Week 3 – a team they’ve lost to 14 consecutive times. Wilson himself was benched following his last outing against the Patriots, where he threw for only 77 yards.
Winning cures everything, but losing can tear everything apart. The support for Zach Wilson from the Jets feels real – for now. But if he doesn’t start producing soon, it’s hard to fathom this charade continuing after the team’s bye in Week 7.
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