Has Zach Wilson started his final game for the Jets?
All the Jets want for Christmas is for their quarterback situation to be fixed.
There’s not enough magic at the North Pole and certainly not at 1 Jets Drive to make that happen.
Zach Wilson has been an abject failure in leading this offense. He was benched for the second time this season during Thursday night’s 19-3 loss to the Jaguars. Wilson may have played his last snap of the season and perhaps as a Jet.
Robert Saleh’s tone toward Wilson was different Friday. Saleh wouldn’t say Wilson is the future of the Jets and would not commit to starting him in their next game at Seattle on New Year’s Day even if Mike White remains unavailable because of his fractured ribs.
“We got time,” Saleh said. “I don’t have those answers for you yet.”
That answered plenty.
Saleh and his assistant coaches are struggling with what to do with Wilson and whether to give him another chance to run this offense.
Fourth-string quarterback Chris Streveler replaced Wilson against Jacksonville and moved the ball better. The Jets’ total yards with Wilson under center in the previous seven possessions was 78 yards, but Streveler — who was only supposed to be part of some run packages — led a 73-yard drive in his first series, and Saleh stuck with him.
Wilson and the offense came up small in the biggest game of the year for the Jets (7-8), one they needed to win to keep their playoff hopes alive. It was their fourth straight loss and dropped them to 10th in the AFC.
“Thinking playoffs is far-fetched,” Saleh said.
So is thinking the Jets don’t have a major quarterback problem.
The Jets drafted Wilson second overall last year, believing he could become a franchise quarterback and lead them deep into the playoffs. In his last three starts, he has thrown for less than 100 yards and no touchdowns in two of them. The Jets lost all three.
Saleh and the Jets are right back where they were when he became the coach in 2021. Quarterback was a big question mark, and they traded Sam Darnold because they were confident Wilson was going to be the guy. Saleh acknowledged that it’s disconcerting that the Jets are in this position again.
“It is, because the quarterback is the head of the snake,” Saleh said. “You want the head of the snake to be stable and we just haven’t been able to [have that]. I’m responsible for it also, it starts with me.”
When asked if Wilson still is the future, Saleh didn’t really answer the question.
“We’re never going to quit on anybody,” he said. “I’ve got confidence in all our guys. I just feel like every single year there’s a kid who’s just struggling and everybody wants to quit on them. This might not be their year, but it doesn’t mean that next year can’t be their year. That’s everybody on the roster.”
Saleh said Wilson’s biggest issue right now is his confidence, which was obvious when the quarterback spoke after the game. It’s hard to put a player on the field if his confidence is shaky.
If White is cleared for contact next week, he likely will get the start. If not, it wouldn’t be surprising if Joe Flacco starts, with Streveler involved in certain run packages. All three have been able to move the offense better than Wilson.
Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur declined to answer why the offense functions better when someone other than Wilson runs it.
“I’m going to not answer that one,” he said. “I’m not trying to compare Zach to all the other guys. I got to figure it out and figure out a way to get him in a rhythm. I haven’t done that. I’m not trying to compare all those quarterbacks.”
The Jets have averaged 285.8 yards of offense and 178.3 passing yards in Wilson’s nine starts. In the six games he missed with injury or while inactive, the Jets averaged 395.2 total yards and 294.2 passing.
In his last three games, Wilson has led two touchdown drives. In his other series, 21 of them ended in punts and 13 were three-and-outs.
“We’ve got to help him,” Saleh said. “We’re not going to quit on him. That’s for every player in our locker room. As long as they’re wearing a Jets logo, we’re going to pour our hearts and souls in them and do everything we can to help them.”