Zach Wilson’s time with the New York Jets is all but over.
After being benched in favor of Tim Boyle with two minutes remaining in the third quarter of Week 11’s 32-6 loss to the Buffalo Bills, the Jets have reportedly decided to send Wilson back to the bench yet again.
The Jets had to make this decision, and probably waited too long to do so.
There’s plenty of blame to go around. Even Wilson himself isn’t blameless. But, as ESPN’s Damien Woody — a former Jets player himself — noted, he’s probably third in the pecking order of New York’s problems offensively, behind that of the offensive line and the play-caller, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
Still, there was no way this was ever going to end with Jets’ coach Robert Saleh getting an image of Wilson tattooed on his body.
In the end, Saleh had no choice. But you have to wonder why New York’s third-year head coach waited until the Titanic already crashed into the iceberg before making a decision.
After not scoring offensive touchdowns in consecutive losses to the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders, the Jets went back to the drawing board. They cut their third-string running back, Michael Carter, and vowed to make personnel changes all across the offense.
In turn, it didn’t look like the Jets changed anything offensively, as their season hit rock bottom in the 26-point loss to the Bills. The only thing they did end up changing was the quarterback, but the Jets were already down by 23 points when they decided to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Too little, too late; the story of Zach Wilson’s career.
One of the biggest whiffs in NFL history, the Jets decided to stick by Wilson, even though they traded and committed a ton of assets for his replacement. The thinking was that he could redshirt this season — play 1 or 2 games at the most — and learn from a future Hall of Famer who happens to be his boyhood idol.
That plan went out the window after Aaron Rodgers’ Achilles blew out just four plays into the season. And there Wilson was again, being thrust back into the starting lineup of a team with Super Bowl aspirations, despite being benched in favor of both Mike White and Chris Streveler a season before.
With how tumultuous his sophomore season was, it was assumed that Wilson would never play again for the Jets after last season. New York’s offense wasn’t pretty, but it consistently produced more with Wilson out of the lineup than with him in it.
Just a few weeks ago, Saleh was pressed about his decision to stick with Wilson, despite the offense’s woeful ineptitude. Don La Greca, the co-host of The Michael Kay Show, questioned Saleh, saying he decided to bench Wilson in favor of White last year, so how is this any different? Are you to tell him that nothing would change if Siemian or Tim Boyle were in this situation?
“Hypothetically, that’s more hypothetical,” Saleh said. “I will say this, last year’s decision, with respect to last year’s decision, came because of a loss in confidence that I don’t think I had ever seen in a quarterback before. Things that people didn’t see, even though you saw it on the football field on gameday, it was even louder off the field with regards to practices and meetings and all that. And so, it was more of an effort to try to save him and his confidence because I felt like every time I put him out there, it was gonna get worse.”
Well, if that’s the case, why was he ever on this season’s roster to begin with? The Jets can talk until they’re blue in the face about the strides in development that Wilson made this offseason, in terms of his confidence and his ability to run an NFL offense, but the improvements were minimal at best. They weren’t nearly enough for him to be the starting quarterback of a team with Super Bowl aspirations.
It’s only continued to get worse with him under center. And again, you can’t just point the finger at him. The team has had seven different starting offensive line combinations this season and will likely have an eighth entering Week 12. But, the results are the results. Gang Green has just nine touchdowns in 10 games, in addition to averaging the third-lowest yards per game (270.3) and third-lowest points per game (15.0) in the NFL this season.
But something had to change.
New York could no longer keep hanging its hat on the Kansas City game. You know, the one where the former No. 2 overall pick went toe-to-toe with Patrick Mahomes and the defending Super Bowl champions? That game was on Oct. 1, and Wilson has not looked remotely close to being that same quarterback since. And maybe that’s a personnel and scheme issue, but you could not keep trotting the NFL’s worst starting quarterback out there. Not when Tommy DeVito is lighting up the Washington Commanders and Joshua Dobbs is taking the NFL world by storm.
The move to bench Wilson, who ranks 30th out of 31 qualified quarterbacks in QBR and has a mere 6 touchdown passes, is not going to save anyone’s job. For all we know, Jets chairman and CEO Woody Johnson can act on his emotions — he’s certainly been known to do so in the past — and fire the regime responsible for this mess. After all, Wilson’s three-year starting record stands at a lackluster 11-20, marred by 21 touchdowns and a staggering 25 interceptions, and the Jets have decided to stand by him time and time again.
The issues on the Jets go well beyond Zach Wilson. They always have. That doesn’t make Monday’s decision to have him ride the bench any more right or wrong. It just is what it is at this point. It’s a results-oriented business, and the results say that he isn’t an NFL quarterback.
And with that, the Wilson era in New York is officially over. It should’ve been for over a year now, but the Jets only have themselves to blame for this mess they’ve created. You can feel bad for the kid — and I certainly do — but everyone needs to recognize that this move is the best for all parties involved and perhaps the Jets can grant him his release in the process.
Maybe he’ll catch on somewhere else. It just wasn’t ever going to work in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Not with this staff. Now with this regime. And not with this offensive personnel.
So long, Zach. We’ll always have the Tennessee Titans game from your rookie season.