FLORHAM PARK, NJ — On the day he lost his starting job in a dramatic quarterback shake-up, Zach Wilson He apologized and tried to win back his New York Jets teammates.
Under heavy criticism from fans and the media, Wilson spoke to the entire team on Wednesday and acknowledged Sunday’s post-news conference — he refused to take responsibility for his poor performance in the loss to the New England Patriots.
“I had a stomach ache,” he said.
That play led to Wilson’s benching, which coach Robert Saleh called a breakdown of fundamentals. Mike White Sunday begins against the Chicago Bears at MetLife Stadium. Joe Flacco There will be a No. 2 quarterback; Wilson will remain inactive.
Wilson, however, acknowledged his poor performance and did not question Saleh’s decision. In speaking with the team, he expressed support for White but vowed to win his job back, players said. He wanted to clear the air with teammates, some of whom were upset by his post-game comments, sources said.
“That’s the only thing I can think about the last couple of days,” Wilson said. “I wanted the opportunity to talk to those people and make it from the heart.”
Wilson’s benching has been a significant focus for everything around him since taking him second overall in 2021. That raises questions about the future of their quarterback position, something the Jets don’t think they’ll have to face so soon.
Explaining the decision, Saleh said Wilson’s fundamentals were “really failing” and he needed time to focus. He has “every intention” of playing Wilson again this season, insisting they are “not wavering in our belief that he is going to be the future of the franchise.” Saleh described the demotion as a temporary reset.
“Is it a small step back? Absolutely,” Saleh said. “But do I think it would be a huge leap if he had a chance to redeem himself? Absolutely. So, it’s not putting a nail in his coffin. It’s not. It’s not even close to it. But believe me, at the end of it, it’s a rejuvenated, renewed young man. will be.” Understandably, Wilson was unhappy with the result, with Saleh describing his reaction as, “Why me? Why now? I want to play.”
“It’s tough, man. It’s never fun,” Wilson told reporters. “The first thing that went through my mind was, I’ve got to go to work, I’ve got to get better.” This doesn’t come as a shock.
“You know what? I wouldn’t say (I’m) surprised because I didn’t do my job,” he said. “Of course, I don’t want to accept the result and everything, but I have to play well.”
Saleh declined to put a timetable on Wilson’s return, saying he was taking it “day by day”. This, of course, opens the door to potential quarterback controversy if White wins.
The Jets (6-4), hoping to end their 11-year playoff drought, have switched to a win-now system. They believe their defense is championship capable, and they don’t want to squander this opportunity because of erratic quarterback play.
They’re 5-2 since Wilson returned from a season-ending knee injury, but his play has been largely inconsistent — a two-year trend. With a 37.6 total QBR, he ranks 31st among 33 passers over the past two seasons. He went 77 last Sunday in a 10-3 loss to the Patriots.
Wilson was called by coaches at Monday’s team meeting, sources said, and some believed his ejection was inevitable. Saleh said Wilson’s post-game comments were not a factor in his decision. Wilson called his father on the phone and asked, “Brother, what are you doing?” Until asked, he said he didn’t seem to have caused a stir.
“It’s well-deserved,” Wilson said of the nationwide criticism. “The way I handled the situation was not good. I want to be a better football player and then be a better leader for these guys. I have a chance to come back here as a player. And a leader.”
Cornerback DJ Reid Appreciated Wilson’s apology.
“Everything he said came from the heart,” she said. “It was very authentic, and everyone respected that.”
“The way I handled the situation was not good. I want to be a better football player and then be a better leader for these guys. I have a chance to come back here as a player. And a leader.”
Just three weeks ago, Wilson received a strong vote of confidence from Saleh, who said that barring injury, Wilson would start the rest of the season. What changed?
“Some fundamental things didn’t really help him,” Saleh said. “It’s an opportunity for him to sit down and focus on those things and find a way to reconnect with the different things that we fell in love with during the draft process. I feel like he can. Do.”
Saleh said, “There are just a few things in his game now … if we throw him out it will continue to deteriorate.” They devised a training program that allowed them to focus on those fundamentals. Saleh said the problems were “fixable”.
Statistically, Wilson is historically worse when throwing under pressure. He has a tendency to look for the pass rush instead of downfield, which is often thrown off his back foot. Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur acknowledged that footwork is an issue.
“I’ve got to find a way for him to play with a fundamental sound in the bottom half,” LaFleur said.
White is a tangible thing; He has just three career starts.
White threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns against the Cincinnati Bengals in his first career start since Wilson suffered a knee injury last season. The former Dallas Cowboys draft pick got two more starts — an incomplete game against the Indianapolis Colts (he left with an injury) and a four-interception clunker against the Buffalo Bills.
White actually started this season as the No. 3 quarterback behind Wilson and Flacco. They changed the depth chart in Week 8 and promoted White to QB2 — which left some around the team scratching their heads. Saleh said, “He has to give him the chance to prepare to be the next man.”
Now he is.
“Initially, I was excited,” White said of his reaction to the promotion. “What every player in this locker room wants is an opportunity to compete and prove themselves. But more importantly, it’s an opportunity to be a good teammate and help the team and care about the team first.”