HomeSportsBenched QB Zach Wilson apologizes to Jets for post-game comments

Benched QB Zach Wilson apologizes to Jets for post-game comments

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – On the day he lost his starting job in a dramatic quarterback shakeup, Zak Wilson tried to win back his New York Jets teammates with an apology.

Amid heavy criticism from fans and media, Wilson spoke to the entire team on Wednesday and admitted he botched Sunday’s post-game press conference — the press conference in which he refused to account for his poor performance in a loss to the New England Patriots.

“I had a sick feeling in my stomach,” he said.

That play, combined with what coach Robert Saleh called a deterioration in the fundamentals, led to Wilson being benched. Mike White begins Sunday against the Chicago Bears at MetLife Stadium. Joe Flaco becomes the No. 2 quarterback; Wilson will be inactive.

Wilson acknowledged his poor play and did not question Saleh’s decision. Speaking to the team, he expressed his support for white, but also promised to win his job back, players said. He wanted to clear the air with teammates, some of whom were upset by his post-match comments, sources said.

“It was all I could think about for the past few days,” said Wilson. “I wanted to get a chance to talk to those guys and really get it from the heart.”

Wilson’s benching has been a key linchpin for an organization that has set almost everything around him since he was drafted second overall in 2021. It raises questions about the future of their quarterback position, a proposition the Jets never thought they would have to tackle so quickly.

Saleh explained the decision, saying Wilson’s fundamentals are “really off” and he needs time to refocus. He has “every intention” to play Wilson again this season, insisting they “have not wavered in our belief that he is going to be the future of the franchise.” Saleh described the demotion as a temporary reset.

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“Is it a small step back? Absolutely,” Saleh said. “But do I think it will be a giant leap forward if he gets a chance to reset himself? Absolutely. So this isn’t hitting a nail in his coffin. This isn’t that. This isn’t close. But I believe that it will be a rejuvenated, renewed young man at the end of this Understandably, Wilson wasn’t happy with the decision, with Saleh describing his reaction as, “Why me? Why now? I want to play.”

“It’s tough, man. It’s never fun,” Wilson told reporters. “The first thing that went through my mind is I have to get to work, I have to get better.” It didn’t come as a shock.

“You know what? I wouldn’t say (I was) necessarily surprised because I didn’t do my job,” he said. “Of course I don’t agree with the decision and everything, but the bottom line is that I have to play better.”

Saleh declined to give a timetable for Wilson’s return, saying he will take it “on a day-to-day basis”. This, of course, opens the door to a potential quarterback controversy if White is successful.

The Jets (6-4), hoping to end their 11-year playoff drought, have switched to a win-now mode. They believe their defense is championship caliber, and they don’t want to pass up this opportunity because of erratic quarterback play.

They are 5-2 since Wilson returned from a pre-season knee injury, but his play has been wildly inconsistent – a two-year trend. With a total QBR of 37.6, he ranks 31st out of 33 qualified passers over the past two seasons. He reached the bottom with a career-low 77 passing yards in last Sunday’s 10-3 loss to the Patriots.

Wilson was called up by coaches at Monday’s team meeting, sources said, leading some to believe his ouster was inevitable. Saleh claimed that Wilson’s comments after the game played no part in his decision. Wilson said he had no idea he had caused a stir until his father reached out by phone and asked, “Bro, what are you doing?”

“It’s deserved,” Wilson said of the nationwide criticism. “The way I handled the situation was not good. I have to become a better footballer and then I have to be a better leader for these guys. I have the opportunity to turn the page as a player here.” and a leader.”

Corner back DJ Reed appreciated Wilson’s apology.

“Everything he said came from the heart,” he said. “It was very sincere and everyone respected it.”

“The way I handled the situation was not good. I have to become a better footballer and then I have to be a better leader for these guys. I have the opportunity to turn the page as a player here.” and a leader.”

Zak Wilson

Just three weeks ago, Wilson was getting a lot of confidence from Saleh, who said Wilson would start for the rest of the season barring injuries. What changed?

“There are some basic fundamental things that have really gotten out of hand for him,” Saleh said. “This is just a chance for him to sit back, focus on those things and find a way to reconnect with all the different things that we fell in love with during the design process. It’s something I think he can do that.”

Saleh said there are “just a few things in his game right now… that will only get worse if we just keep throwing him out there.” They came up with an exercise plan that will help him focus on those fundamentals. Saleh said the problems are “fixable”.

Statistically, Wilson is historically bad when throwing under pressure. He tends to watch the pass rush rather than the downfield, often resulting in throws off his back foot. Attack coordinator Mike LaFleur acknowledged that footwork is a problem.

“I have to find a way to get him to play fundamentally healthy in the bottom half,” said LaFleur.

White is hardly certain; he has only three career starts.

With Wilson suffering a knee injury last season, White almost achieved cult hero status in his first career start, throwing for 405 yards and three touchdowns to upset the Cincinnati Bengals. The former Dallas Cowboys draft pick got two more starts — an incomplete game against the Indianapolis Colts (he left with an injury) and a four-interception clunker against the Buffalo Bills.

White actually started this season as the No. 3 quarterback, behind Wilson and Flacco. They changed the depth chart in week 8 and promoted White to QB2 – a switch that left some on the team scratching their heads. Saleh said it was to “give him a chance to prepare like he’s the next guy.”

And now he is.

“Just excited at first,” White said of his reaction to the promotion. “It’s exactly what every player wants in this dressing room, a chance to compete and prove themselves. But more importantly, it’s just a chance to be a good teammate and help the team and take care of you first to worry about the team.”

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