Jets are sticking with Zach Wilson despite the quarterback’s struggles


“It starts with me,” the third-year quarterback said. “I’ve got to find a way to be better.”

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) is sacked by New England Patriots linebacker Josh Uche (55) and linebacker Matthew Judon (9) during the first quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger) AP

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The weather was ugly. The New York Jets’ offense was worse.

Zach Wilson couldn’t do much against the New England Patriots in a 15-10 loss on a rainy Sunday that was filled with missed opportunities, not enough plays and plenty of boos.

“It’s tough,” Wilson said. “We weren’t doing anything on offense. … A lot of frustration by everybody on offense.”

The Jets went 2 for 14 on third down, a week after going 1 for 10 in those situations in a 30-10 loss at Dallas. New York was outgained 358 yards to 171 by New England, and had just 12 first downs and averaged a measly 2.8 yards per play while losing its 15th straight meeting with its AFC East rival.

“Overall, it just wasn’t good enough, from coaching to the players to all of it,” coach Robert Saleh said.

The defense wasn’t without fault, either, especially after allowing New England to gain 358 yards and go 8 of 19 on third downs. But the Jets also held the Patriots to 15 points and made some big stops late.

“You say if you give up less than 20, you should win the game,” Saleh said. “And they gave up less than 20, too.”

Wilson, making his second start in place of the injured Aaron Rodgers, was 18 of 36 for 157 yards. He didn’t have any interceptions, but couldn’t get the offense moving much. He faced heavy pressure throughout, playing behind a shuffled offensive line.

“It starts with me,” the third-year quarterback said. “I’ve got to find a way to be better.”

And he’ll continue to get that chance. Saleh said the Jets are sticking with Wilson next Sunday night against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.

“Yeah, he’s fine,” Saleh said of Wilson.

That likely won’t sit well with most Jets fans, who were excited entering this season with Rodgers leading the team — only to be deflated four plays into the four-time NFL MVP’s debut with New York in Week 1 after he tore his left Achilles tendon.

“Even with Aaron at quarterback, we knew that there was going to be some hiccups along the way because of the new offense, new play caller, new O-line, just new players all over the offensive side of the ball,” Saleh said. “And now you’ve got this curveball that was stuck to us. And so they’re acclimating and they’re they’re going to get better, but it’s still very early in the season.”

But for a team that had Super Bowl aspirations with Rodgers entering the season, things have taken a quick turn.

During the loss Sunday, TV cameras caught running back Michael Carter arguing on the sideline with his position coach Taylor Embree. Carter later said he needs to keep his “cool” better on sideline and the two talked things out.

Meanwhile, wide receiver Garrett Wilson was seen having what appeared to be a heated conversation with offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett on the sideline.

“Frustrating that we’re not moving the ball,” last season’s AP Offensive Rookie of the Year said.

He finished with five catches for 48 yards, with 29 of them coming on the final drive.

“I feel like I’m in a really good spot as far as my ability and I don’t feel like I’ve been able to put that on display,” the receiver said. “And that’s for multiple reasons.”

He said he still supports his quarterback, and Saleh insists he’s not concerned about potential problems arising with his team by continuing to have Zach Wilson start.

“I’m not worried about the locker room,” Saleh said. “We’ve got a great locker room. We’ll be fine.”

Added tight end Tyler Conklin: “Our big thing is ignoring you guys a little bit. And the media is going to put the blame on the quarterback and we’re going to let him know we’ve got his back and it’s not on him.”

Career backup Tim Boyle remains the only quarterback on the Jets’ active roster, so several other names have been floated as potential targets for New York to replace Wilson.

Saleh wouldn’t address that, but added of his decision to start Wilson: “He’s who gives us the best chance to win. So that’s basically the cleanest answer I could give you.”

But the boos at home could begin to reach a fever pitch if Wilson continues to struggle and the Jets keep losing.

“Keep believing, man,” Wilson said he’d tell fans. “I truly believe we’ve got the guys. We’re going to keep doing everything we can to get better. We understand the frustrations.

“It’s not fun to go three-and-out. It’s not fun to not establish drives and play football and score touchdowns. We understand that. We’re doing everything we can. We’re going to get better.”