BY LESLIE MONTEIRO
(Photo credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Yes, Jets sophomore quarterback Zach Wilson played 18 NFL games.
Yes, he finished his fifth NFL game after returning from a knee injury that he suffered in a preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
But this seems discouraging as Wilson continues to be getting worse rather than getting better. He was why the Jets took a 22-17 loss to the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. He never gave them a chance to win by how awful he played. He struggled to move the offense around. He threw three interceptions, including two to Devin McCourty in the second half.
With Jets running back Breece Hall out for the season with a torn ACL, the Jets needed Wilson to play well more than ever. Hall was Wilson’s security blanket that made his job easy by him handing the Jets running back the ball and doing damage. Now, the Jets need their quarterback to beat them with his arm, and there are teams that are going to dare him to beat them after not throwing a touchdown pass in the previous three games.
The Patriots took a 13-10 lead to start the third quarter on a six-play, 62-yard touchdown that was completed on a Mac Jones 5-yard touchdown to Jakobi Meyers, a fourth-down conversation on fourth-and-1 from the Jets’ 5. The opportunity presented itself for Wilson to respond and shine in that spot.
He failed three times in the third quarter. This was the story of the Jets’ loss.
On the first possession of the third quarter, the Jets ran three plays and punted. In the last play, Wilson tried to make a play for a first down but ran into a group of Patriots before throwing it to Ty Johnson that went incomplete.
After Nick Folk kicked a field goal to extend the Patriots’ lead to 16-10, Wilson received the snap, ran the play action and tried to look around and as he is about to get sacked, he threw the ball to McCourty for an interception. It was bad enough he held the ball way too long. It was even worse when he just did not take a sack or throw the ball away. This is inexcusable. This is just not smart to keep throwing when he had no shot. This is something he should have learned a long time ago.
On 3rd and 7 at the Jets’ 46 in the fourth quarter that was the continuation of a play from the third quarter, Wilson threw another interception to McCourty on an attempted pass to Jets tight end Ty Conklin after he was looking around for a few seconds.
It just seemed like Wilson did way too much on his own by forcing the issue. He doesn’t have a good field vision. He probably should have given the ball to Michael Carter or new Jets running back James Robinson despite both of them not doing that much in this game.
Wilson is not ready to be a pocket passer. It showed in this game. It also showed in the last few games. There’s a reason to be concerned when there is a trend.
It was surprising Mike White did not replace Wilson after his first interception to McCourty. I don’t know if White was going to be any better, but a change had to be made for the sake of change.. It’s one thing to develop a quarterback and let him learn from his mistakes, but if he keeps making the same mistakes such as not throwing the ball away when he has no chance to throw, it’s counterproductive to the team to play him. The timing was right to make a quarterback change when Wilson had nothing from the start.
Wilson’s throws were way off against the Patriots. He had no timing, and it’s clear he has no connection to his receivers just from watching him throw. Only one knows what really goes on at practice, because it doesn’t look like Wilson and the receivers are not even connecting then from what we see at games. If things don’t go well at practice, it’s hard to believe it will translate anything in live games.
Wilson not showing any smarts has to be concerning. He is not that great of a quarterback to be a gunslinger. Also, it’s getting old watching him hold on to the ball. Remember he injured himself in the preseason by running for a first down in a preseason game when he really did not have to.
It’s the little things that make one wonder if Wilson can be a great quarterback. If he can’t get it right, he’s useless.
The Jets will continue to lose to the Patriots until Wilson grows up and be a competent quarterback or he gets replaced.
This was supposed to be the game the Jets ended their 12-game losing streak to the hated Patriots. They have better talent than their opponent. Now, fans wonder if the Jets are ever going to beat them as long as Bill Belichick is coaching the Patriots, especially in a place Wilson is in.
Beating the Patriots should be the least of the Jets’ worries. Wilson’s development is a problem. It’s not crazy to wonder if he can be an NFL quarterback. He is basically Sam Darnold right now. Remember the Jets drafted Wilson to be an upgrade over Darnold, who has shown he is not an NFL quarterback, either.
If Wilson can’t figure out how to play under duress this year, it’s fair to wonder if he ever will. One can only have patience for so long. In the NFL, a quarterback either wins and produces or is replaced. 12 games be damned.
If he becomes a bust, it will be another quarterback the Jets failed to get it right. There would be no reason to trust the Jets to get it right ever again when it comes to finding a quarterback after whiffing on Mark Sanchez and Darnold.
Right now, it could be the Jets have no choice but to overpay free agent-to-be Lamar Jackson to give them a chance to finally beat the Patriots next season.
This writer can be reached on Twitter: @LeslieMonteiro6
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