Jets’ Zach Wilson understands fan’s boos after getting benched again: ‘You don’t blame them’

Sports

When New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson heaved a ball downfield at the end of the first half and saw it intercepted by the Jacksonville Jaguars, MetLife Stadium erupted in the most deafening display of boos on Thursday night. 

It was the culmination of what Wilson put together in a must-win game for New York that resulted in a 19-3 loss and Wilson being benched early in the second half for fourth-string quarterback Chris Streveler. 

“You don’t blame them,” Wilson told reporters post-game when asked about the fan’s booing after he threw for 92 yards on 9 of 18 passing. 

“We have a passionate fanbase, and they are here to watch us score touchdowns, and we are not scoring touchdowns. We’re not getting first downs, we’re not moving the ball. Obviously can’t throw the ball. So of course they’re going to be frustrated.”

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Zach Wilson #2 of the New York Jets walks to the sideline against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half at MetLife Stadium on December 22, 2022, in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Zach Wilson #2 of the New York Jets walks to the sideline against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half at MetLife Stadium on December 22, 2022, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Wilson didn’t have a drive last longer than six plays the entire night, and the three points in the first half for the Jets were only set up by the defense getting a strip sack on Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence to give New York the ball on the 16-yard line for their opening drive. 

The Jets came into Thursday night as a bubble AFC squad looking for a playoff berth. With just three games left, a win was needed. 

Yet, with those stakes in mind, and Wilson the Jets’ No. 2 overall pick a season ago (behind Lawrence), he couldn’t deliver. 

JETS BENCH ZACH WILSON DURING THIRD QUARTER AGAINST JAGUARS AFTER ANOTHER POOR PERFORMANCE

“I just felt like I didn’t have any rhythm out there,” he explained. “Just trying to find some confidence out there on the field and just find something to get us going, a little spark, but couldn’t get anything there, man. I had opportunities and I gotta be able to connect on those.”

“The feeling is I just gotta put my head down and just try and get better for these guys. That’s kind of my message to them out there, try to give them everything I got. I’m trying to lay it out for you guys, and it’s not good enough. I gotta put them in a better position.”

Fans cheered when Streveler was able to get something going for the Jets, though it never resulted in points. Still, he was more productive than Wilson, throwing for 90 yards on 10 of 15 passing and rushing for 54 yards to lead the team on the ground in the loss. 

“Yeah it is [tough], and that’s why I gotta look myself in the mirror,” Wilson said when asked about watching Streveler from the sideline. “I gotta go back, I gotta watch this tape, and you gotta be hard.”

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) hands off the ball to New York Jets running back Michael Carter (32) during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J.

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) hands off the ball to New York Jets running back Michael Carter (32) during the first quarter of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Head coach Robert Saleh defended his quarterback despite the struggles, saying “we haven’t seen the last of him” and noting that Wilson technically wasn’t benched in his eyes. The Jets were looking for a change of pace with Streveler’s ability to run, and they stuck with that when offensive success finally came.  

No matter the case, Saleh’s comments would indicate the Jets are confident Wilson can get his rhythm going. 

But it might be too late for New York, which likely needs to win out and watch other teams lose if they want to break that playoff drought – New York hasn’t made it since 2010. 

However, Saleh said that he really isn’t focused on the playoffs right now, as the Jets have lost four straight games. He just wants to right the ship. 

“It’s not about playoffs right now, it’s not. We played four consecutive teams that are in the hunt for the playoffs, and we battled, we battled three of them. I’m just really disappointed with this showing today.”

JETS’ ZACH WILSON TO START VS. JAGUARS WITH MIKE WHITE STILL NOT CLEARED FOR CONTACT

The Jets’ final two games also come against teams fighting for the playoffs: The Seattle Seahawks next week followed by the Miami Dolphins in Week 18. 

Mike White, who got the offense rolling in his three starts this season, though it only led to a 1-2 record, is still dealing with a rib injury. 

So, like Saleh said, we may not have seen the last of Wilson despite the poor performance in one of the biggest games of his career to date. 

Zach Wilson #2 of the New York Jets looks towards the sideline against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half at MetLife Stadium on December 22, 2022, in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Zach Wilson #2 of the New York Jets looks towards the sideline against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half at MetLife Stadium on December 22, 2022, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

“I’m working my way through it, but I gotta be optimistic here. I believe in myself regardless of what everybody else does, and I’m just gonna go to work and show these guys how much I care about them on this team. This season’s not over for us. I’m just gonna do everything I can and control what I can.”

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Wilson hasn’t won a game as a starter this season since Week 9 against the Buffalo Bills, a 20-17 victory at home. 

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