Zach Wilson humbled after eventful week and benching

For the time being, Zach Wilson is no longer the starting quarterback for the New York Jets. His benching Wednesday was the culmination of an eventful week that included a very disappointing performance against the New England Patriots — 9/22 for 77 yards — and a postgame interview that gave the sense Wilson didn’t have the ability to hold himself accountable.

Now that he has had time to reflect on everything, including his benching, Wilson is taking the high road and starting to take the steps necessary to clean up his image and get himself back into the starting lineup.

“The first thing that went to my mind was ‘I gotta get to work,'” Wilson said to the media regarding his initial thoughts about the benching. “I gotta get better and I’m going to approach that every single day, just keep working to get better.”

That work began Wednesday as Wilson was back out at practice with his teammates. But this time, it was as the third quarterback and not because of an injury, as was the case earlier this season. Head coach Robert Saleh told the media Monday that Wilson will not be active on game day. With Mike White now the starter, that means Joe Flacco moves back into the No. 2 spot. Wilson will be No. 3 for now and among the inactives list on Sunday.

Wilson was frustrated but understands the decision and understands he hasn’t been getting the job done.

“I wouldn’t say necessarily surprised because I haven’t been doing my job,” Wilson said. “Of course, I would like to not agree with the decision and everything but it comes down to I’ve got to play better.”

There isn’t much direction to go other than up for Wilson. Out of 34 qualified quarterbacks, Wilson ranks 33rd in pass rating (72.6), 34th in completion percentage (55.6%), 32nd in touchdown-to-interception ratio (4-5) and tied for 32nd in passing touchdowns per attempt (2.1%).

Then there’s this crazy stat: Wilson still doesn’t even lead the Jets in touchdown passes this season. That title still belongs to Joe Flacco, who had five touchdown passes in his three starts at the beginning of the season and he stands to keep that title for perhaps another couple of weeks with Wilson benched.

So Wilson knows he has work to do on the field. He also knew he had work to do off the field, as well. That included addressing his teammates for his postgame comments after the Patriots loss in which he said he didn’t feel he let his defense down.

Wilson spoke to his teammates and knew it was something he had to do. “(Speaking to my teammates) was the only thing I could think of the last couple of days,” Wilson said. “I wanted the opportunity to talk to those guys.”

Wilson also took accountability for his postgame comments. “The way that I handled the situation wasn’t right,” he said. “I’ve got to be a better football player and I’ve got to be a better leader for these guys. I have an opportunity to turn the page as a player and as a leader and take a step forward.”

One key person that helped Wilson realize he was in the wrong? His father. Wilson said he didn’t realize what he had said until his father had texted him. That helped lead him to want to apologize to his teammates, which he eventually did. “I didn’t handle it right,” he said. “That’s not what a leader does.”

He may not be the leader of the Jets at this moment, but he has a chance to work himself back into that leadership role and he has taken the first, and maybe hardest, steps to getting back into this position: working on earning back his teammates’ trust.

Wilson handled his media session about as good as he could have. He truly sounded humbled and apologetic for his actions, both on and off the field. Now it’s time for him to get back to work and earn his stripes again. Until then, he’ll watch from the sideline as Mike White looks to keep the Jets on track for the playoffs heading into a key Week 12 showdown with the Chicago Bears.

Story originally appeared on Jets Wire