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Sunday Night May Have Changed Zach Wilson’s Career

Like usual, there was heavy criticism during the week that preceded Sunday night’s matchup between the Chiefs and Jets. It seemed like business as usual for Zach Wilson, however it was much more amplified.

The Jets dropped two straight after a thrilling victory on the opening Monday night of the season, when the squad lost Aaron Rodgers for the season.

Last week against the Patriots, Wilson once again flashed potential once again. He lead the team on an 87-yard scoring drive in the fourth quarter to make it a one possession game, only to give up a safety the very next drive and lose all momentum.

This is what has frustrated Jets fans for so long with Wilson, he shows bits and pieces of greatness, only to make horrid and inexcusable mistakes a drive later.

There have been rumors of discontent with Wilson in the New York locker room for years. This time however, leading up to Chiefs-Jets, the tension reached a head.

While there were no solid reports of altercations, there were multiple reports of players being fed up with Head Coach Robert Saleh due to his lack of accountability. Saleh was accused of coming off as a “Zach Wilson apologist,” and players were furious because they knew if anyone else played as bad as Wilson they’d be benched.

To make matters worse, legendary Jets quarterback Joe Namath blasted Wilson, describing his performance against New England as “disgusting” and “awful”. Wilson has taken on his fair share of criticism thus far in his career, but nothing like this past week. However, fans and teammates alike were impressed with his humility and honesty in post-practice interviews.

Wilson would view Namath’s criticisms and the questions rumors surrounding his coach’s unjust belief in him as motivation. He said in the interview that he views Namath’s comments as a challenge for the offense to be better, and that Namath had every right to be upset due to his legendary status in New York and football in general.

Following a tumultuous week, a matchup with the Chiefs did not appear to be a good thing for the Jets. While there are no videos to back up the claim, legendary safety Rodney Harrison, who is now an NFL analyst on NBC claimed Wilson was missing wide open receivers in warmups.

The situation looked very bleak for the Jets all around, but the game that ensued may have changed the trajectory of Wilson’s career forever.

It was a slow start to the game, but after New York’s defense got a key safety, Wilson began to show signs of life. After just 30 yards passing in the first quarter, he would throw for over 200 yards and two touchdowns the rest of the game. While Wilson has had flash in the pan games before, this one felt different.

He was going through progressions like Jets fans had never seen before. He was escaping the pocket and making flashy plays with his legs and on the run like he had done back in his BYU days, leading New York to select him number two overall.

After being down eight points at halftime, Wilson and the offense stormed down the field with a quick score and two-point conversion to tie the game up. The drive was capped off by a needle-threading touchdown by Wilson to receiver Allen Lazard, followed by a gritty two-point run by the quarterback.

Due to a mixture of penalties and bad throws by Wilson the offense stalled for most of the second half following the scoring drive. However, down three points in the fourth quarter and getting the ball back, Wilson began to storm down the field once more.

He began slicing up the Kansas City defense again, getting past midfield. Just as it looked like the Jets were about to do the impossible and knock off the defending champs, Wilson simply dropped a shotgun snap. The Chiefs recovered, and New York would never get the ball back.

Wilson was visibly upset on the sidelines mouthing to punter Thomas Morstead, “I lost the game. It’s my fault bro.”

In his postgame interview he echoed the same sentiment, repeatedly telling reporters he lost the game, and he “cannot do that”, referring to his late game fumble. Teammates would show him support, patting him on the back on the sidelines and whispering encouragement in his ear.

While the game still had the same heartbreaking ending Jets fans have become accustomed to, it feels like the tide of Wilson’s may have changed during that game. A stat was put out after the game that Wilson became the only quarterback in Patrick Mahomes to have more completions, more yards, more touchdowns, and less interceptions than him in a game.

For someone as accomplished as Mahomes in such a short amount of time, this puts Wilson in elite company. For as rocky as his career has started off, let’s hope this is the beginning of a long, successful career.

1 Comment

Oct 04, 2023

Wilson definitely has the talent to be great in this league

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