The Jets’ frustrations are mounting as QB Zach Wilson struggles once again

Rich ChiminiESPN staff writerSeptember 24, 2023 at 07:07 PM ET4 minutes to read

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Jets, who started the season with Aaron Rodgers and Super Bowl dreams, are back to their script for 2022: They have a quarterback problem and frustrated players in the locker room.

Zach Wilson struggled for the second straight week, with two players engaging in lively discussions with coaches during the game and the Jets losing their 15th straight to the New England Patriots, 15-10 on a rainy Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

Then, star receiver Garrett Wilson, who became upset during a sideline conversation with Zach Wilson and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, hinted that he’s not getting the ball enough. The Jets (1-2), losers of two straight games, already appear to be reeling. But they won’t change their quarterbacks this week.

Coach Robert Saleh said he stuck by Wilson, saying, “Yes, he’s fine.” Wilson has only led the offense to three turnovers in nearly three full games, but “he’s the one who gives us the best chance to win,” Saleh said. “That’s basically the cleanest answer I can give you.”

The only other quarterback on the list is Tim Boyle, who has made just three career starts (all with the Detroit Lions in 2021).

Zach Wilson, who replaced the injured Rodgers in Week 1, was stumped by the defense. He completed 18 of 36 passes for 157 yards, with three sacks (including a safety). The Wilson-led offense produced seven threes. He was booed loudly, especially when he threw a 2-yard completion to tight end Tyler Conklin on fourth-and-10 in the fourth quarter.

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It got emotional on the sideline after a three-and-out in the third quarter.

“Yeah, just frustrated — frustrated because we’re not moving the ball,” said the midfielder, who walked toward Hackett and Garrett Wilson on the bench and was gesturing with his arms. “That’s what it was. Our defense was putting together some saves and I felt like it was time to go, time to go, time to score some points. So, yeah, just trying to figure out how we can attack.”

Garrett Wilson finished with five catches for 48 yards against an injury-riddled Patriots secondary. When asked if the Jets had done enough to exploit the secondary, he said: “No, we haven’t. That said, I’m sure they’re feeling really good out there on the other side right now, especially the DB.” the room. And they certainly should.”

He didn’t directly criticize the play or the quarterback, but the second-year receiver — the 2022 NFL Rookie of the Year — certainly left the impression that he’s unhappy with the way he’s being used.

“I feel like I’m in a really good position as far as I can go and I don’t feel like I can show it,” he said. “And that’s for multiple reasons. I don’t know what it might be, but I just know that I’m ready. I’m going to make sure that I stay ready. I’m going to make sure of that every time I do this. Take this field that I’m confident in my ability no matter what happens.”

There was another heated exchange when Michael Carter got into it with running backs coach Taylor Embree. Later, Carter called it a misunderstanding, saying “we hashed it out right away” during the game.

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“It’s not as big a deal as it seems,” Carter said, admitting that he had to “control myself a little better.” Most of the spotlight will be on Zach Wilson, who has completed just 52.4% of his passes with two touchdowns and four interceptions this season. The plan was for him to step back and learn from Rodgers, but that changed in the fourth game of the season, when the four-time MVP tore his Achilles tendon.

Team officials have talked about Zach Wilson’s growth as a quarterback, but he doesn’t have the results to back it up.

“We are still at the beginning of the season,” Saleh said. “We knew, even with Aaron at quarterback, there were going to be some hiccups along the way with a new offense, a new contact player, a new O-line, just new players. This curveball wasn’t sent to us and they’re adjusting and they’re going to get better.”

In rush mode, Wilson drove a 13-play, 84-yard drive in the fourth quarter, cutting the Patriots’ lead to 13-10. He had three possessions in the last 2:44 to try to get the win from behind the scenes. Those possessions ended with a safety, a four, an out, and a Hail Mary in the end zone. Wilson completed just two of eight attempts in three series.

In his postgame press conference, Wilson used the word “frustrated” three times, finally admitting, “It starts with me. I’ve got to find a way to get better.”

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