The Jets’ head coach had to do the same for every other player in his locker room, a space growing restless with the repeated mistakes that second-year quarterback Zack Wilson was making on a team that has proven That he is capable and ready to win now.
There is growing evidence that Wilson is holding this team back at a time when it has proven to have playoff-worthy defense and above-average special teams (that Patriots punt return last week notwithstanding). Because it is the only game out of first place. in the AFC East.
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Saleh read the room and he read the standings and knew what he had to do.
“We’re going to roll with Mike White,” Saleh said Wednesday, referring to the Jets’ backup quarterback, who last season on a Sunday night with a magical win over the Super Bowl runner-up Bengals in relief of an injured Wilson. Was a hero. ,
To make this decision imperative at this point was also a lack of maturity which Wilson has displayed many times. Saleh had to be wary of the way Wilson handled himself after Sunday’s 10-3 loss to the Patriots in a game that cost him and the team on offense.
In what turned out to be a damning moment – one Wilson did a fine job starting Wednesday – he was asked after the game whether he felt like he and the offense could beat the defense after producing 2 yards of net offense. “Degraded” was his answer in the second half, “No.
Saleh said that Wilson’s post-game performance—which bordered on being more cocky than his in-game performance—had “no bearing on this decision,” as that was what he had to say publicly.
“For Zach, maybe there was a little jealousy [on the part of teammates] At the moment, but I don’t think there is any complaint,” Saleh said.
Making just 20 starts in his career is quite a decline for the second-overall pick in last year’s draft. He also won’t be in uniform for Sunday’s home game against the Bears as veteran Joe Flacco will be slotted into the No. 2 role. Until further notice, Wilson is the Jets’ new scout-team quarterback.
The benching represents an admission on the part of the Jets that it appears they made a costly mistake in elevating Wilson, and no longer consider him the franchise quarterback they drafted.
This, of course, saw Saleh move out of the way of controversy – again because he had to do so publicly.
“We haven’t been deterred by the feeling that he’s going to be the future of this franchise,” Saleh said. “Zach’s career is not over. I know that’s going to be fiction, and it’s not even close to being the case. The whole intention is to make sure that Zach is back on the football field sometime this year. When That will happen, I’ll make that decision. I’m going to take that day-by-day.”
Barring a complete flop on White’s part, the reality is that Wilson’s best chance to play again will be if the Jets, now 6-4, are eliminated from playoff contention.
The best thing that came out of Wednesday was how well Wilson handled the demotion. He started his day by admonishing the entire team for their poor play and for their comments after the game.
Later, speaking to reporters for the first time since Sunday, he sounded a truly humble, honest and accountable voice that resonated with his teammates. It all felt like a signature moment in his development process, which should serve him well.
Wilson called his demotion “tough, but it’s worth it”.
He said he was not “necessarily surprised” by the demotion “because I wasn’t doing my job.”
Addressing his post-game remarks in New England, Wilson said, “The way I handled the situation was not right. I have to be a better football player and I have to be a better leader for these guys.” ”
Part of Wilson’s message to his teammates was that he is focused on getting better and winning his job back.
Cornerback DJ Reed told the Post, “What he said was very real.” “It came from his heart. It was very genuine. He definitely poured his heart out. If he didn’t already have it, he definitely earned and received everyone’s respect for what he said today.”
A tough day for the Jets ended in possibly a positive way. If White plays well and helps them beat the Bears on Sunday and Wilson really is better than this adversity, then Wednesday was a win for the Jets.