Mon, Sep 25, 2023 6:18 PM
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr., AP Pro Football Writer
At this point, most Jets fans would take anyone at quarterback other than Zach Wilson.
They don't want to hear it's not all his fault or New York has plenty of problems and not just him.
Well, it all might be true for a team that's 1-2 after having Super Bowl aspirations with Aaron Rodgers under center. But the fact is the Jets are sticking with Wilson, the third-year quarterback who was once the future of the franchise but is now the most popular target of frustrated fans.
Even Broadway Joe sounded off Sunday on social media during the Jets' 15-10 loss to the New England Patriots — their 15th straight against their AFC East foes — and went even further Monday during an interview on “The Michael Kay Show” on 98.7 ESPN New York.
“I wouldn’t keep him,” said Joe Namath, who was uncharacteristically agitated. “I’ve seen enough of Zach Wilson. All right? I’ve seen enough.”
The Pro Football Hall of Famer remains the first and only quarterback to lead the Jets to the Super Bowl — back in January 1969, when he made good on one of sports’ most famous guarantees.
It appears that drought will hit 55 years unless the Jets can turn it around. Even being able to end the NFL’s longest active streak without a playoff appearance — 12 years — seems in jeopardy.
Namath called Wilson's performance Sunday “disgusting” and “awful.” He added: “I don't believe in him. I don't believe he has a future as a good player. I think they made the wrong choice when they drafted him.”
Namath also called for changes in the organization, from top to bottom.
Yep, it seems everyone's on notice these days, and that includes coach Robert Saleh and GM Joe Douglas.
They're charged with trying to keep everything together on a team that was built to win now with Rodgers. After the four-time NFL MVP was lost for the season with a torn left Achilles tendon just four plays into his debut, the Jets had to quickly pivot to Wilson — who was never supposed to play this season.
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 draft struggled through his first two seasons, to the point he was benched twice last season. The idea was for Wilson to watch and learn from Rodgers, the equivalent of a college redshirt season or two.
Perhaps the Jets' biggest blunder was not bringing in a proven backup during the offseason just in case of what happened.
If the Jets truly wanted Wilson to use this as a developmental year, the contingency plan probably should have started with someone other than Wilson if Rodgers went down.
Instead, Wilson was thrust back into the starter role with only career backup Tim Boyle remaining on the roster.
“He's our unquestioned quarterback,” Saleh said Monday.
And now the Jets are going with a Plan B that shouldn’t have required a system overhaul.
“There’s an identity we’re trying to find on the offensive side of the ball,” Saleh acknowledged. “And it’s not an excuse, but the reality is, it was built a certain way. And now we’re trying to adjust on the fly, which is a challenge, but a challenge that I think we’re going to end up getting an answer for.”
There doesn't appear to be a simple solution as names such as Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, Carson Wentz, Colt McCoy and Jacoby Brissett have been floated around social media.
Well, Jets fans can scratch Ryan off the list after he told CBS Sports — where he works as a TV analyst — “I've got no interest in doing that right now."
Is Chad Pennington available? Mark Sanchez? Ken O'Brien? Heck, how about Namath?
Publicly, the coaches and players have voiced their support for Wilson. But the Jets' steadfast commitment to him has the franchise and the fanbase at a crossroads.
Any new quarterback coming in would likely need at least a week or two to become fully integrated.
Meanwhile, the best solution at quarterback continues to heal at home as everyone wonders what could have been.
P Thomas Morstead. Yeah, it's never a good sign for the offense when the punter is a highlight for a team, but the 37-year-old veteran has been busy. His 17 punts are tied for second in the NFL behind only Pittsburgh's Pressley Harvin (19) and his 825 total yards are also second to Harvin (897). Morstead's 48.5-yard average ranks 12th in the league and his 43.6 net average is 10th.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
A lot, of course. But the Jets' failures on third down on offense are glaring. They went 1 for 10 against Dallas in Week 2 and 2 for 14 on Sunday against the Patriots. For the season, they're 8 for 37 with a 22% conversion rate ranking last in the NFL.
DT Quinnen Williams. He was an All-Pro last season and got a big payday as a reward, but the defensive tackle continues to stand out on the Jets' defense. He had three quarterback hits against the Patriots, deflected a pass and had seven pressures to tie a personal best.
OC Nathaniel Hackett. The Jets' offense has become bland and predictable without Rodgers, and it's on Hackett to fix it. Everything was designed with Rodgers in mind, but Hackett needs to tailor a game plan that better suits Wilson's ability to make plays off schedule — and allow him to take some chances.
S Tony Adams (hamstring) and backup OL Wes Schweitzer sat out against New England.
2 — The number of offensive snaps versatile WR Mecole Hardman had vs. the Patriots. His not being included in an offense that needs playmakers has been one of the season's early mysteries.
It doesn't get any easier for the Jets. In fact, it gets even tougher. New York will try to bounce back while facing Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in front of a prime-time audience at home Sunday night. The Jets have to hope the only highlight isn't whether Taylor Swift shows up to cheer on Travis Kelce.
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