Jets need to start Zach Wilson the rest of the season to make a final decision

Jets need to start Zach Wilson the rest of the season to make a final decision

WARNING: It’s not going to be a popular catch, not what you want for Christmas under your tree or in your stocking.

The Jets are expected to start Zach Wilson at quarterback for the final two games of the season — even though Mike White is medically cleared to play with his cracked ribs.

Thursday night’s moribund 19-3 home loss to the Jaguars essentially knocked the Jets out of the playoffs. Even if they are not mathematically eliminated this weekend, their chances in the playoffs are “far-fetched”, head coach Robert Saleh conceded on Friday.

That being the case, what else do the Jets have to play for other than using the last two games to help formulate a future decision on Wilson?

Learning more about Wilson and whether the 2021 No. 2 draft pick is really a franchise quarterback was, after all, one of the missions this season for the Jets. His rookie season was spotty, to be polite, and the Jets needed to know how far he would progress in his sophomore season.

While no one on the Jets wants to admit it, the reality is that Wilson didn’t show any tangible signs of progress from Year 1 to Year 2, and never was that more evident than watching. Thursday how far Trevor Lawrence of Jacksonville has come right now. same period.

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) warms up before a game between the New England Patriots and New York Jets on October 24, 2021 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Zach Wilson of the Jets should get more reps before the end of the Jets season.
Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Saleh is in an impossible situation, because he wants – needs – to win games. He saw a 7-4 start evaporate to 7-8 thanks to the 0-4 freefall. And to argue that Wilson gives the Jets a better chance of winning than White is madness.

That leaves Saleh in the difficult and delicate situation of deciding whether it is more important to win games over the next two weeks or to try to find out more about Wilson … unless Saleh and the Jets believe that they know enough and have seen enough.

And it is quite possible.

Saleh, whether inadvertently or by design, dropped bread crumbs on Friday, hinting that Wilson — whose confidence, even by his own admission, is shaken — could be closed for the season.

The head coach went from swearing after Thursday night’s game, “We haven’t seen him last,” to saying on Friday that “there are also downsides” to playing someone like Wilson when his confidence is shaken.

“You have to think about the player and where he is and if you’re doing more damage or helping him,” Saleh said. “You just want to make sure you’re making the best decisions for the team and not just say, ‘Hey, let’s just get this guy’s reps, just to get this guy’s reps. ”

It seemed like a strong hint that Wilson was done – at least for 2022.

But I think Saleh should start Wilson against the Seahawks a week from Sunday in Seattle — unless the organization is already convinced it’s seen enough.

I don’t know if I’d have the same take if the next game was at home, because Jets fans are done with Wilson, and it’s gotten to the point where he’s booed during pregame warmups. . But the Jets are on the road for the final two games, which would make his life much more psychologically manageable.

New York Post Illustration

When asked Friday if he still believes Wilson is his “quarterback of the future,” Saleh danced around the question.

“I trust all of our guys,” he said. “I just feel like every year there’s a kid who’s struggling, and everyone wants to stop him, and it might not be their year, but that doesn’t mean that next year can’t be their year.”

Another serious hint that Wilson is made for the season.

Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, asked Friday what more he knows about Wilson in the 16 weeks this season than before the season, said, “How resilient he is.”

“He’s grown a lot in the last two years,” LaFleur insisted. “He’s had to deal with more adversity than he’s probably ever had in his entire life, and he continues to show up to work looking for ways to improve. I believe he’s a better quarterback. I know it doesn’t show.

Saleh, asked if Wilson’s biggest problem was physical or mental, replied: “I’m thinking about confidence. For Zach, and it doesn’t take long to switch. He just needs a good streak of back-to-back games, quarters, games, to put up some good football. And once you’re in a groove, everything starts to click and move faster.

The only way Saleh and the Jets will find out is if they play Wilson the last two games. In a weird way, they know more about White, who has started just six games in the past two years, than Wilson, who has started 22.

Wilson is the player they need to make the most definitive decision. So play him the last two games. What more do the Jets have to lose?

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