The New York Jets’ fourth play of the scrimmage began booing.
Zack Wilson stepped back, the Jacksonville Jaguars sniffed a screen, and Wilson flicked it to the ground. The boos weren’t very loud, but you could easily make out in the broadcast.
The boos were loud towards the end of the first half. With each bad offensive game, Jets fans expressed their displeasure. When Wilson’s desperation was thrown out at the end of the inning, Jets fans were outraged.
Wilson’s shocking Thursday night 19-3 loss against the Jaguars may not have been rock bottom for Wilson, because there was that terrible game against the New England Patriots that got him benched for the first time this season, but it was really bad. Late in the third quarter, Wilson was benched in favor of Chris Striveler, the starting QB.
Jets coach Robert Salih said he put in Strifeller to give the offense, particularly the running game, a spark. Streveler had several good plays right away and the Jets stuck with him the rest of the game. The Jets had three first downs with Wilson playing. On Strifeller’s first drive, the Jets had four first downs.
Wilson is a struggling sophomore quarterback, and he’s in the wrong market for that. In 2021, there’s been some debate about whether Trevor Lawrence or Wilson should be the first pick – seriously, that happened — and it wasn’t so bad that the Jets had to admit Wilson to number two. On Thursday night, and many days before that, it appears the two quarterbacks don’t play the same sport.
Lawrence looked poised, confident and in control Thursday night, leading the Jaguars to victory over the Jets. This puts them in a position to play for the AFC South Title against the Tennessee Titans in Week 18, if the Titans lose one of the next two or the Jaguars beat the Houston Texans next week.
As for the Jets, they’re left wondering again if there’s any hope for a quarterback who was ranked second overall nearly 20 months ago.
Zack Wilson’s struggles start right away
The Jets had three first downs and 66 yards of offense in the first half. To start the second half, they went three and out.
It was raining and windy at MetLife Stadium, but Lawrence didn’t have much of a problem with the conditions. Wilson couldn’t make simple throws. Wilson can scramble around and throw wide, and that gets some people excited, but he hasn’t shown he can work within the normal structure of an NFL offense.
Not now anyway. There is plenty of time for it to evolve. Injuries have set him back. But there’s a reason all Jets fans boo. There was a reason the Jets players were so excited to play Mike White when White took over Wilson a few weeks ago.
White is injured, which is why Wilson is back playing again. The results weren’t much different for Wilson this time around.
Started in the first series. Lawrence fumbled and the Jets recovered at the Jaguars’ 16-yard line. Third down, Wilson never saw safety Andre Sisko on raids and was sacked. There was no consciousness in the play. Perhaps this is the young midfielder. You just want to see more progress now.
After Wilson was benched Thursday night, you have to wonder if he’ll have more opportunities to play this season.
Wilson sits on the bench
The difference in the Jets offense when Striveler came into the game was unmistakable. Streveler wouldn’t be your average starting quarterback in the NFL but he did run with toughness and purpose. Fans have been back alive for quite some time. Crime had some juice, finally. This probably says more about Wilson than Streveler.
The Jets were in position to draft Lawrence before they won two of their last three games of 2020, including a huge upset over the Los Angeles Rams, and Jacksonville suddenly got the first pick.
Just imagine if the Jets had lost and had Lawrence. There are a lot of good parts for planes. They had a great draft this season. They were 7-7 going into Thursday night’s game, still in the playoff race, which was a testament to just how good the rest of the guys are at the quarterback position.
And at home, against the 6-8 Jaguars, with their future likely to be eliminated on the line, the Jets weren’t competitive. It was clear early in the match that the Jaguars were going to win. The planes were rotten in attack. Lawrence looked good enough and the Jets wouldn’t score enough to make it a game. The only time the Jaguar cars seemed to be in any trouble was Striefeler’s first engine.
Not every quarterback has to be a finished product in his sophomore season. Some players need more time to evolve. Wilson is 23 years old and starts 22 NFL games. This is not enough to say with certainty that it is a bust. But the Jets have to ask themselves the same question as everyone else: What are the signs that Wilson could become the NFL’s starting quarterback?
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