Halfway through the season, the Jets still have a quarterback problem – The Denver Post


For weeks, the Jets have been skating by because of their defense, running game and special teams.

On Sunday, the teacher Bill Belichick took Gang Green to school and forced quarterback Zach Wilson to beat the Patriots. The problem is, Wilson couldn’t and it showed during the Jets 22-17 loss to New England.

Wilson did have the first 300-yard passing day of his career as he completed 20 of 41 passes for 355 yards and two touchdowns. However, Wilson threw three interceptions, two of which were head-scratching.

One of them in particular, Wilson was trying to throw the ball away, but Devin McCourty was near the sideline and picked it off.

“I need to play better,” Wilson said on Sunday.

Understatement of the year as Wilson’s interception put the Jets defense in bad situations. New England generated 10 points off of Wilson’s interceptions. That was clearly the difference in a five-point game.

During the Jets four-game winning streak, the team was winning in spite of Wilson’s play. Since returning from his meniscus and bone bruise injuries, Wilson has thrown for 1,048 yards, three touchdowns and five interceptions in five games. He is completing only 54.9 percent of his passes and has a quarterback rating of 71, which is 34th in the league.

“I don’t care about stats,” Wilson said. “I don’t look at it like that, I take it one play at a time and one game at a time.”

Winning the way the Jets were wasn’t obtainable, especially in a league where quarterback play is essential now more than ever. The more significant issue with Wilson’s play this year is he isn’t improving.

Sure, he went three games without committing a turnover. But that was a product of a well-established running game and the Jets handcuffing him a bit offensively.

Without Breece Hall due to a torn ACL he suffered against the Broncos last week, the Jets need Wilson to throw the ball more and consistently make sound decisions inside and outside of the pocket. He has yet to show that 18 games into his career and it remains to be seen if he will.

The Jets have a good enough team to be a playoff contender with the play of its defense. But Wilson will only continue to hold this team back if he doesn’t make that next leap as a second-year quarterback.

“The last two, three weeks, played three really, really good defenses,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said. “Obviously, we have to perform against really good defenses.

“Denver did it against Trevor Lawrence today, so he has been playing some really good defenses. But the self-inflicted wounds is what we gotta get cleaned up.

“They’re going to make it hard enough. We just don’t need to compound it by making mistakes that help them.”

Yes, Green Bay, Denver and New England all have good defenses, but the Jets will play another tough defense next week when they host the Bills. And after the bye week, the Jets will travel to Foxboro to play this same Patriots team once again.

A lot of defenses will be tough, but Wilson will need to play better if the Jets have any plans to contend for a playoff spot. Saleh says the team has faith in him, but it will be challenging, especially if Wilson consistently makes boneheaded decisions like the ones he did against the Patriots.

Outside of that fourth quarter against the Steelers, Wilson has been a below-average quarterback throughout his career. The numbers don’t lie as he has thrown for 3,382 yards, 12 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in 18 games. These are not numbers you want to see from a former No. 2 overall pick.

Fans at MetLife Stadium were restless as the Jets offense was stagnant during the second half outside of a garbage time touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Some even booed Wilson and the offense as they failed to keep the momentum from the second half going.

Those boos will only get louder if Wilson continues to put up mediocre performances like this. While they may not be ready to pull the cord on Wilson just yet, the clock is ticking for Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas to find an answer at the quarterback position.

It remains to be seen if Wilson is the guy to lead the Jets to the heights the team hasn’t been to since Super Bowl III. But the players, at least publicly, have faith in the former BYU star for now.

“I trust Zach,” cornerback D.J. Reed said. “They played better than us today.

“Zach has been doing a great job managing the game, not turning the ball over, as we won four in a row because of it. It is what it is, it was one of those games.

“He’s going to get better, he’s going to learn from this and we have to move on. We win as a team, we lose as a team.”



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