Zach Wilson can validate Jets decision on career-defining stage
If all this works out, Zach Wilson will look back on the past three weeks as the best thing to happen to him since the Jets selected him with the No. 2 overall pick in 2021.
If all this works, Wilson return behind center as a humble and more mature player than he was three weeks ago.
If all this works out, Wilson will turn out to be the franchise quarterback the Jets thought he was when they used that precious first-round pick on him.
If all goes well, Wilson will lead the 7-6 Jets to a win over the Lions on Sunday at MetLife Stadium and then another against the Jaguars at home on Thursday and the Jets are perhaps one more win away from their first place in the playoffs. since the 2010 season.
If all this works, the button that Jets head coach Robert Saleh boldly pushed when he benched Wilson on Nov. 23 may be seen as the most important coaching decision the NFL has made this season. .
This, of course, hasn’t worked for Mike “Effing” White, that he’s surely regretting his damn luck right nowruled out Friday by doctors who did not clear him to play due to possible additional damage to fractured ribs he suffered last Sunday at the Bills.
Sports can be a cruel and ruthless place, a place where only now matters. And right now, Wilson is back as the Jets’ starting quarterback until further notice.
Now we will see if that “reset” that Saleh spoke of when he sent Wilson to the bench took hold.
Now we see if Wilson, whose poor, inconsistent play and polarizing response to a postgame question after the Jets’ loss on Nov. 20 in New England were Saleh’s reasons for benching him, has been humiliated and matured. for this experience.
Inside the Jets locker room Friday, it would have been hard to wipe the smile off Wilson’s face when he talked about finding out he was back in the starting lineup.
“Excited,” Wilson said upon hearing the news. “Good opportunity.”
How prepared is he after not even being in uniform on the active roster for the past two games?
“I’m ready to go,” Wilson promised. “I feel like these last three weeks I’ve been trying to keep getting better and better and taking each day with the mindset as if I were playing.”
Wilson said all the right things on Friday, doing his best to convey how much he wants to do well for his teammates. He was doing his best to distance himself from that fateful comment he made when asked after the 10-3 loss to the Patriots if he felt he and the offense owed the defense an apology and answered “no” twice. times.
He was asked Friday if, because of where he’s been in the last two weeks, relegated to working as a scouting quarterback in practice, he’s worried his margin for error will be less.
“Well, I mean the worst is over, right, for me personally?” Wilson said, referring to his bench.
The answer to that question, if Wilson isn’t better for his bench and is eventually benched again, never to play for the Jets again, would be “no.”
Wilson went back to talking about “just finding the fun in football” to himself. He spoke about the ‘step back’ that reinforces his ‘gratitude’ towards football ‘and what it brings to my life’.
Saleh called this “a great opportunity for Zach to get back on track and do what we know he’s capable of.”
With White’s limited practice this week, Saleh said Wilson “has gotten the vast majority of first-team reps, so we feel very comfortable with Zach’s grooming as the starting quarterback.”
There’s been a lot of talk on sports radio since Wilson was benched, from people who have never been inside the Jets locker room, that Wilson’s teammates loathe it. That’s not true.
Were there teammates on defense who had a crooked nose when they first heard Wilson’s comments after the New England loss, comments that reeked of a lack of responsibility and self-awareness?
Sure, there were.
But after having numerous conversations with Wilson’s teammates after his bench, the consensus among them was that this was a 22-year-old in the spotlight who made a mistake.
“I think our guys trust him,” Saleh said. “I know that as a coaching staff we trust him and I know that the team trusts him. I mean, he’s played really well for us and we went 5-2 with him at quarterback. We have every faith in him, but he really just has to focus on Sunday and only Sunday.”
If Wilson does that, then this all has a chance to work out for him.