FLORHAM PARK, NJ – Controversial quarterback of the New York Jets Zak WilsonHailed as a franchise savior just a year ago, goes to the bank in a dramatic shake-up.
Coach Robert Saleh announced this on Wednesday after two days of evaluation Mike White will replace Wilson as starter Sunday against the Chicago Bears at MetLife Stadium – the biggest decision in Saleh’s 27-game coaching career.
Saleh said the Jets are not giving up on Wilson, but are taking the step to give him a “reset” so he can refocus. He said Wilson’s problems are “fixable” and that the organization has every intention of having him return as a starter at some point.
Veteran Joe Flaco will be White’s backup on Sunday. Wilson will not be active.
It is an important pivot for an organization that had focused almost everything around Wilson since he was drafted second overall in 2021. It raises questions about the future of the Jets’ quarterback position, a proposition they never thought they would face so soon.
The Jets (6-4), hoping to end an 11-year playoff drought, have switched to a win-now mode. They believe their defense is championship caliber and don’t want to waste this opportunity because of erratic quarterback play.
Passing for a career-low 77 yards in last week’s loss to the New England Patriots, Wilson caused a storm by refusing to take any blame for the offense’s dismal display.
On Monday, Saleh met with Wilson and told him he was evaluating the quarterback position, later telling reporters the same. The non-approval was significant as it was the first time Wilson’s job security had been questioned by the team.
Wilson missed the start of the 2022 season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery following a preseason injury. The Jets went 5-2 after Wilson’s return in Week 4, with both losses coming to the Patriots.
But the Jets win on defense, not passing offense. Wilson has only four touchdown passes and has exceeded 210 yards in only two of his seven starts.
Publicly, Saleh continued to support him, saying after the October 20 loss to the Patriots that he would stay with Wilson for the rest of the season. That came after a nightmare with three interceptions.
Everything changed on Sunday, when Wilson was inept as he directed one of the worst offensive performances in team history. They only managed a total of 103 yards, which Saleh called “unacceptable”.
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 in an upset by 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 started the 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.”