Despite benching Zach Wilson in the second half against the Buffalo Bills for Tim Boyle and naming Boyle the starter for the Jets' matchup with the Miami Dolphins on Friday and potentially the rest of the season depending on the status of Aaron Rodgers, head coach Robert Saleh isn’t willing to call the former No. 2 overall pick’s tenure in New York a "failure."
“I wouldn’t look at it as a failure, I would look at it as more of a series of unfortunate events,” Saleh said. “But I stand strong on the belief that Zach’s gonna have a really good career in this league. He’s got a tremendous work ethic, he’s gotten a lot better over the course of the last year, he definitely has the arm talent, he just turned 24.
“He’s got a positive outlook and he just needs to continue to focus on his game and find ways to get better and continue to learn about fronts and coverages and how to play the game a little bit faster so I still believe he’s gonna have a good career.”
While that may turn out to be true, his career is on hold at the moment after Gang Green just didn’t see the necessary improvements on offense with Wilson at the helm, relegating him to the bench where the Jets envisioned he would be the entire season, behind Rodgers.
Though that vision didn’t come to pass, the season was never supposed to come to this. Not again.
After struggling to score points last year with a revolving door of quarterbacks, New York signed Rodgers in the offseason to get a veteran in the locker room and lead the offense to new heights.
It was also to give Wilson the chance to watch a future Hall-of-Famer at work and absorb as much information as he could in hopes that he could use it for the benefit of his continued development.
Unfortunately, neither of those came true as the Jets’ offense has looked as bad as ever with Wilson being a focal point.
“It’s not all on him but there are things that he needs to be better at and this is just another situation to see if we can get another guy an opportunity to see if something could change,” Saleh said about moving on from Wilson at quarterback.
Even though the season hasn’t gone the way anybody in Florham Park would have wanted, Saleh was sympathetic for Wilson who has heard critiques his entire time in New York and who was thrown into the fire this season, just as he was when he first entered the league.
“When you look at Zach he’s never really had an opportunity to watch somebody play the position,” Saleh said. “I mean Joe Flacco was fantastic, Mike White did some good things, but to just sit back and just watch from the ground up and that was his opportunity with Aaron and four plays in, he’s back in the starting lineup. So he never really got to sit back and kind of absorb and just get that redshirt that you would’ve loved to have given him.”
Regardless, now the Jets are 4-6 and staring down the barrel of another disastrous season.
Of course, it’s unfair to put all of New York’s offensive struggles on Wilson. After all, the offensive line has been injured and ineffective all season and pieces the Jets brought in to help the offense haven’t exactly panned out either.
What’s more unfortunate is that Gang Green’s defense has been playing at an elite level all season but it’s largely been put to waste. Still, Saleh is trying to remain positive.
“We’re 4-6. Obviously we’re a little bit behind the eight-ball, but we’re not out,” he said. “And to be honest with you we’ve had a three-game losing streak before, we bounced back and found a way to win three before. The NFL is a roller coaster ride, but at the end of the day I think our group has a lot of confidence. The overarching message to these guys is you gotta have fun getting out there and playing and embrace the opportunity to be an NFL player.”
As for Wilson?
“Zach’s story’s not done,” Saleh said.