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NFL

Zach Wilson’s In The Doghouse

Zach Wilson
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The New York Jets just put forward a memorably pathetic offensive performance against the Patriots, which is not all that out of the ordinary. Scoring three points while having nearly as many punts as completed passes is just kind of what the Jets do, historically, but this latest iteration of futility was noteworthy for a few reasons. The first being that the Jets have a good defense this year, which means that the offense is leaving wins on the table when they fuck up. The second reason is that this game got quarterback Zach Wilson in big trouble.

Wilson played like absolute shit, completing nine of his 22 passes for just 77 yards. Playing like that in a 10-3 loss is usually the type of thing that leads a quarterback, if he cares about being liked by his teammates, to stand at the podium during the postgame press conference and talk about how the offense needs to “do better” and “support those guys on the other side of the ball.” This is the stuff you learn on Day 1 in How To Be A Mediocre Quarterback School. Zach Wilson went in the opposite direction:

That snippy response was followed by an SNY report in which “sources inside the Jets’ losing locker room” were said to be displeased with Wilson’s reaction to the loss. These sources told SNY that Wilson was “walking around after the game like he isn’t the problem,” which “rubbed more than a few the wrong way.”

But that’s just an anonymous report, and for as ill-advised as Wilson’s press conference performance appeared to outside observers, it’s entirely possible that he said all the right things behind closed doors and still has the full backing of his teammates and coaches. That doesn’t appear to be the case, though, given that when head coach Robert Saleh spoke to the media on Monday, he just came right out and said that Wilson is in danger of being benched.

Wilson is a former No. 2 overall pick in his second season, has only Mike White and Joe Flacco to compete with at his position, and is playing for a team that did not come into the year with any real expectations. It should be very hard for Wilson to lose his claim on the starting gig under these circumstances, and the fact that he is on the verge of doing so speaks to just how poorly he’s played while failing to make strides at the same pace his teammates on the defensive side have been.

I would like to offer a different explanation for why Wilson finds himself in such a precarious place: it’s because he looks like that. Imagine a world in which Wilson looks like, I don’t know, Gardner Minshew, but still did all the same things he did after the game on Sunday. Would that “No” from the press conference come off as curt and defensive? Would the way he was carrying himself in the locker room have garnered so much attention from his teammates? Would Saleh currently be trying to talk himself into 37-year-old Joe Flacco? These are questions worth asking, and they may lead to a new understanding of the quarterback position: if you are going to look like that, you better be good.

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