Jets quarterback Zach Wilson is tackled by Dallas Cowboys linebacker...

Jets quarterback Zach Wilson is tackled by Dallas Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch during the first half of an NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Aug. 17, 2023. Credit: AP/Michael Ainsworth

Zach Wilson had just met with the media after throwing three interceptions against the Cowboys on Sunday and uttered a phrase that showed he’s made some progress.

“I need to be better,” Wilson said.

Had Wilson said something to that effect after his dreadful performance in New England last November, maybe 2022 would have gone much differently for the young quarterback.

Now, Wilson did need to be better in Sunday’s 30-10 loss to the Cowboys. All of the Jets did. This admission by Wilson was a good sign, though. Another one came from inside the locker room after Wilson spoke.

Garrett Wilson was talking to and encouraging Zach Wilson. Tight ends Tyler Conklin, C.J. Uzomah and Jeremy Ruckert also made sure Zach Wilson knew they didn’t lose because of him. There was plenty of blame to be shared between players and coaches from the beatdown in Dallas.

This probably wouldn’t have happened last year, not after Wilson said “no, no” when he was asked if he let the defense down in a 10-3 loss to the Patriots. Wilson was benched after that.

Uzomah said on the "Chris Rose Podcast" the following week that he texted Wilson and said, “You know you rubbed the team the wrong way. I’d say something if I were you.” Wilson did. He apologized and the relationship healing process began.

Wilson still hasn’t proved he can lead the Jets, but that he has his teammates’ support is important. They’re going out of their way to prop Wilson up and say how much they believe in him.

The Jets need a confident Wilson. He’s their QB1 since Aaron Rodgers suffered a season-ending Achilles tear. If Wilson’s confidence fades, as it did last season, the Jets will be in big trouble. They may already be, but it’s only Week 3, and they have a big game Sunday against the Patriots.

“The most important thing is that he knows it’s the whole offense that didn’t play well,” center Connor McGovern said. “I think he played good, he had great plays in there. We just need to make sure to keep his confidence high because when his confidence is high, he’s a damn good player.”

Jets fans are waiting to see that.

Wilson has had some flashes, but he has been a major disappointment since the Jets drafted him second overall two years ago.

If you’re looking for improvement, Wilson stepped up in the pocket and made some good throws on Sunday. He also made plays with his legs. All three of his interceptions were in the fourth quarter when the game was essentially over. His coaches and teammates basically gave Wilson a pass.

“If [the defense] could have just got them the damn ball," said coach Robert Saleh, "gave them some more opportunities, I think people would have seen he was playing pretty well up until it was garbage time, and he was trying to force the ball.”

Throughout the offseason and training camp, everyone inside One Jets Drive has spoken positively about Wilson, about how he’s improved as a player, about how he’s matured and handled his very public demotion well. They’re not going to give up on him now.

The Jets have invested a lot of time and money in Wilson. This is his chance to show how far he’s come or that they need to give the football to someone else. But the Jets, as a whole, need to be better.

Teams have won without stellar quarterback play. They’ve relied on their defense and running game. That was the expectation for the Jets after losing Rodgers. Their defense played small in Dallas and their offensive line, even smaller.

On the very first play, Breece Hall was hit for a 4-yard loss. On the third, Micah Parsons came flying in and sacked Wilson. Tone set. The Jets didn’t help Wilson, who had to improvise most of the game because he was on the run.

“It’s tough to have his confidence be high when on the first third down he gets sacked within like 2 ½ seconds or something crazy,” McGovern said. “That’s on the O-line. That’s us not doing our part to keep his confidence high.

“We know how important this [Patriots game] is. We know what we need to do to fix it and know what we need to do to give Zach every opportunity to be the player that everyone knows he can be.”

All of the Jets — coaches, too — need to be better.

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