A tumultuous, trying week is over, with the Jets focused (finally) on their football game against the Bears. But a week that saw them bench a player they believed was their franchise starter left plenty to process.
Zach Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick just last year, will be inactive today, as Mike White will start and Joe Flacco will be the backup.
How did the second-year player take being benched?
“Zach handled it like a pro,” head coach Robert Saleh told NFL Network Insider Mike Garafolo late this week. “He challenged it like anyone would. But at the same time, he had a good week of practice.”
White, the sharp former backup, took the first-team reps, while Flacco took backup reps. That left Wilson with scout-team reps, which Saleh believes will benefit him.
No one denies Wilson is talented. The Jets do hope to have him back as the starter, though they have publicly declined to discuss that plan.
One source said of Wilson’s tenure, “It’s definitely not over.”
This week was brutal for Wilson, who said after a Week 11 loss to the Patriots that he did not feel like he let the defense down after scoring three points.
Wilson later addressed the team in a players-only setting about his comments, explaining that he didn’t mean them like they sounded. Several sources said Wilson became emotional expressing to his teammates how sorry he was for his comments and his play.
Caring has never been an issue. An insanely hard worker, Wilson may grind too hard to a point where it becomes difficult to function, according to those who know him well. Last season, he struggled with simple throws, battling a case of the yips while doing so.
In short, he got himself to a point mentally where the simple throws became nearly impossible because he was thinking too much and digging in too much. That bled into the spring (where he improved) and then a difficult season.
It’s a reality that has affected other New York athletes, such as Chuck Knoblauch and Mackey Sasser in baseball. When Wilson lost the layups and couldn’t hit easy throws, sustaining drives became difficult.
There was no consistency on anything. The offense could not work. And eventually, the Jets had no choice but to insert White.
The focus for Wilson now is clearing his head, working on fundamentals and simply taking a step back. The hope is he can move forward from here.
That’s what Saleh wants.
“Someone mentioned to me the other day Phil Simms was on and off the bench,” Saleh said. “(Bill) Parcells benches him and he comes back to win his job back and win the Super Bowl. There’s stories like that all over the place. It’s just that quarterbacks don’t have that much time. Coaches don’t have much time. He has tremendous arm talent, works his butt off and is a good decision-maker but he’s not where he needs to be or where he’s gonna be.”