New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson enters Week 12 behind Mike White and Joe Flacco on the depth chart. It’s a massive fall for the former No. 2 overall pick, but a decision that some in the organization might have seen coming months in advance.
Robert Saleh benched Wilson days in advance of the team’s matchup on Sunday against the Chicago Bears. The decision came after Wilson drew criticism and reportedly angered the locker room by suggesting he didn’t let the defense down following another bad performance.
Weeks after Saleh shot down the notion that the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft could be benched, Wilson is now expected to be a healthy inactive on Sunday. It’s a massive fall for a quarterback prospect who the front office fell in love with early in the pre-draft process.
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However, the signs of concern surrounding Wilson were apparent in 2021 and the sources of concern didn’t go away in practice long before the 2022 season.
- Zach Wilson stats (2022): 55.6% completion rate, 4-5 TD-INT, 72.6 QB rating, 6.8 ypa
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network shared that there have been concerns regarding Wilson since before training camp, with some believing the Jets’ quarterback had the yips.
“This is something that has gone back way before this year. Even in the spring, I was talking to people watching Zach Wilson do the OTAs, do the minicamp. They thought something was wrong. The belief was that he had the yips. Couldn’t make the simple throws, couldn’t have base mechanics, something was just wrong.”Ian Rapoport on New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson
It’s not the first report of issues at practice for the 23-year-old passer. In June, multiple reports indicated that Wilson struggled with inaccuracy during OTAs. Entering his second NFL season, Wilson’s mechanics seemed to be broken and it led to wild inaccuracy on his throws.
While he flashed some positive moments during practices, multiple reporters saw a young quarterback who didn’t seem ready to make a second-year jump. Months later, the problems carried over into the regular season and resulted in Wilson’s benching.
There are plenty of reasons for the Jets to be concerned. Wilson’s inaccuracy remains a problem, with little sign of improvement from a disastrous rookie season. He also struggles in key situations, with a 58.0 quarterback rating on second downs and a 51.3% completion rate and 62.7 quarterback rating on third-down attempts.
Each of Justin Fields, Mac Jones and Trevor Lawrence have shown flashes of becoming a franchise-caliber quarterback since being drafted. While New York never had a shot at Lawrence, it chose to pass on Fields’ upside and success at a Power 5 program in favor of Wilson’s flashes at BYU.
While the Jets will provide Wilson with another opportunity, the fact that he has shown little progress since he entered the league combined with his struggles as a leader are major causes for concern. The Jets have a playoff-caliber defense capable of winning games on its own, but this team is once again a quarterback away from being a contender.