Are Zach Wilson and the Jets at a Crucial Crossroad?

It’s all about the reset.

That’s what Jets’ coach Robert Saleh said repeatedly about quarterback Zach Wilson when he announced that he would be benched against the Chicago bears at MetLife this Sunday.

Jets’ fans could see it coming through the North Jersey air after Wilson’s atrocious performance last Sunday in New England. Wilson accented his state with his dismissive attitude in the postgame presser.  He was the No. 2 overall pick last year, and a reset.

Yet somehow, we have been here before. Remember the reset with Sam Darnold? He was the No. 3 overall pick in teh 2018 draft and a reset as well.

Mike White, who the organization has raved about since he came on board, will get the nod White, you may remember, had a three-touchdown, 405-yard performance that led the team to an34-31 upset over the Bengals last season. White also came back down to earth against the Bills in a four-interception performance in a 45-17.

White’s four-game trial replacing the injured Wilson last year resulted in a 88-for-132, 953-yard, five-touchdown and eight interception performance. He hasn’t thrown a pass this season.

Saleh elected to go with White instead of vet Joe Flacco, who started the season in place of the again-injured Wilson. Since then, Flacco basically has been inactive, as Wilson will be this Sunday.

Saleh and the Jets’ brass weren’t afraid to send the pompous Wilson a message here. It also was a huge move on their part considering the Jets need the game against the 3-8 Bears to keep themselves in the playoff hunt.

The Jets could have allowed Wilson to play through his issues, and taken any more wins about their current 6-4 record as gravy. Six wins before the season easily could have been a high-water mark for the team.

But Saleh realized that his defense is a top-10 unit that is getting better every week. They will play a huge role in the Jets winning this week with a quarterback who hasn’t taken a live snap since last Nov. 14.

Saleh expects Wilson to be back in the starting lineup sometime over their next seven games. But if White lights it up, it will get interesting, especially if the Jets are still in the playoff hunt.

White has enough offensive weapons around him to be successful. The issue will be if he can avoid the sloppy turnovers and be consistent unlike Wilson.

Do you want Wilson to step back on the field after a few weeks if the Jets are in the hunt under White? The Jets still have winnable games against Detroit and Jacksonville and possibly Seattle left. They could get to nine or 10 wins.

Likely, this will be the crossroads in Wilson’s career. There is a good chance that he may not be back on the field as a Jet. The rumors about Jimmy Garropolo or Derrick Carr being the Jets new quarterback will start to heat up. There’s the other possibility that GM Joe Douglas will work his magic in the draft in April. Or were the Jets’ brass right about White all along?

And there will be some irony in the game as well.

Chicago quarterback Justin Fields, who should play despite a bad shoulder, was drafted nine spots behind Wilson last year at No. 11, has finally found his niche after a tumultuous rookie season.

Fields is looking like he did at Ohio State, when he was a major threat running the ball and was an average passer.  He would look a lot better in Green and White these days.

Wilson’s benching shed a new light on a matchup this Sunday that could have been projected as a sleeper. Late Sunday afternoon, we’ll learn where this Jets’ team is and where they can be.

We’ll also have a better definition of a reset.

About the Author

Jeff Moeller

Jeff Moeller has been covering the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and college football and basketball as well as high school sports on a national and local scene for the past 39 years. He has been a Jets and Giants beat reporter for the past 13 years.

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