The New York Jets have seen enough from quarterback Zach Wilson. Following Sunday's poor offensive performance against the New England Patriots, the Jets benched Wilson prior to the team's Week 12 game against the Chicago Bears, head coach Robert Saleh confirmed.
Jets players were reportedly informed of the decision during a team meeting Wednesday.
Breaking: During a team meeting minutes ago, Jets players were informed that Zach Wilson is not starting Sunday's game vs. the Chicago Bears, sources tell ESPN.
Wilson — who had a 5-2 record as a starting QB this season, with both losses coming vs. the Pats — is being benched. pic.twitter.com/fdl3mBmIHq
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 23, 2022
With Wilson benched, the team will start Mike White against Chicago. White, 27, appeared in four games last year, throwing five touchdowns against eight interceptions.
Long-time NFL veteran Joe Flacco, 37, will serve as White's backup in Week 12. He started three games for the team earlier this season while Wilson recovered from an injury. Flacco completed 58.7 percent of his passes, and threw 5 touchdowns against 3 interceptions in those games.
After starting the team's last seven games, Wilson will be inactive against the Bears. Wilson was reportedly disappointed upon hearing the news.
Robert Saleh said Zach Wilson reacted with some frustration when he was told the news. "Why me? I want to play" #jets
— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) November 23, 2022
"It's never fun," Wilson said, via the NFL Network's Mike Giardi. "But the first thing that went thru my mind is 'I've got to get work. I've got to get better.' ... I wouldn't say necessarily surprised because I haven't been doing my job."
Zach Wilson under fire after miserable performance against Patriots
Wilson hasn't performed well in 2022, and his struggles against the Patriots were apparently the last straw for the Jets. Wilson went 9 for 22 against New England, throwing for just 77 yards. The team failed to get anything done offensively, scoring just three points in the 10-3 loss.
Following the game, Wilson received criticism for not taking accountability for the team's offensive struggles.
— Jets Videos (@snyjets) November 20, 2022
Even if that's true, it's clear the Jets felt they had seen enough from Wilson. Saleh was non-committal about the starting quarterback when asked Monday, the first sign a change was coming.
Wilson said he apologized to his teammates since those comments were made.
"I had a sick feeling in my stomach," he said, via ESPN.
"It was the only thing I could think of the last couple of days," Wilson said. "I wanted the opportunity to talk to those guys and really make it from the heart."
Zach Wilson's career is now in limbo
The move sends a discouraging sign about Wilson's future in the NFL. Wilson hasn't performed well, but most quarterbacks get more time to prove themselves in the NFL. Wilson has started just 20 games. In those games, he has 13 touchdowns against 16 interceptions. Wilson has completed 55.6 percent of his passes.
It's possible Wilson can still work his way into the Jets' future plans, but it feels unlikely. The benching indicates the Jets aren't happy with Wilson's lack of progression in his second season. If they still felt good about his ability, the Jets may have stuck with Wilson and let him work out his issues on the field. By benching him, the Jets are indicating they don't trust him to make those improvements this season.
"Is it a small step back? Absolutely," Saleh said, via ESPN. "But do I think it's going to be a great leap forward when he gets a chance to reset himself? Absolutely. So, this is not putting a nail in his coffin. This is not that. This is not close to that. But I do believe, at the end of this, it's going to be a rejuvenated, renewed young man." Understandably, Wilson wasn't happy with the decision, with Saleh describing his reaction as, "Why me? Why now? I want to play."
Saleh sent a different message Wednesday, saying Wilson needs "a reset," but his career with the Jets isn't over.
"The young man needs a reset."
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) November 23, 2022
Wilson has physical tools. There's a reason he was drafted No. 2 overall. Because of that, it's always possible Wilson rights the ship in the offseason and becomes the player Jets fans hoped he could be when the team selected him.
But the track record of young quarterbacks who fell out of favor with their teams this quickly isn't promising. Unless Wilson can clean things up — both on the field and in his press conferences — his next start might come with a different franchise.