Under fire from fans and the media, Wilson spoke to the entire team on Wednesday, admitting he was a bum in Sunday’s postgame press conference — one in which he refused to take responsibility for his poor performance in the loss to the New England Patriots.
He said, “I had a sick feeling in my stomach.”
That match, combined with what coach Robert Salih described as a deterioration in fundamentals, led to Wilson being benched. Mike White will start Sunday against the Chicago Bears at MetLife Stadium. Joe Flacco will be the second quarterback. Wilson will be inactive.
Wilson admitted his poor play and did not question Saleh’s decision. Speaking to the team, he expressed his support for White, but also pledged to get his job back, the players said. The sources said that he wanted to clear the air with his colleagues, some of whom were annoyed by his comments after the match.
“It was the only thing I could think of the last couple of days,” Wilson said. “I wanted to have the chance to talk to these guys and do it from the bottom of my heart.”
Wilson’s bench has been an important linchpin for an organization that has guided just about everything around him since being drafted second overall in 2021. It raises questions about the future of their quarterback position, and it’s a proposition the Jets never thought they’d have to contend with so soon.
Explaining the decision, Saleh said Wilson’s fundamentals were “out of control” and that he needed time to refocus. He has “every intention” of playing Wilson again this season, insisting they are “unwavering in our belief that he will be the future of the franchise.” Saleh described the reduction as a temporary reset.
“Is it a small step backwards? Absolutely,” Saleh said. “But do I think it’s going to be such a big leap forward when he gets a chance to reset himself? Absolutely. So, this doesn’t put a nail in his coffin. This isn’t. This isn’t even close to that. But I think, at the end of this, he’s going to be a rejuvenated young man.” and renewed.” Understandably, Wilson was not happy with the decision, with Saleh describing his reaction as, “Why me? Why now? I want to play.”
“It’s hard, man. It’s never fun,” Wilson told reporters. “The first thing in my mind is I have to go 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 that I didn’t do my job,” he said. “Of course, I don’t like to agree with the decision and everything, but it’s about having to play better.”
Saleh declined to put a timeline for Wilson’s return, saying he would take it “day by day”. This, of course, opens the door to potential quarterback controversy if White succeeds.
The Jets (6-4), hoping to end their 11-year drought, are now in winning mode. They think their defense is championship level, and they don’t want to miss this opportunity because of the erratic play in the middle.
They are 5-2 since Wilson’s return from a preseason knee injury, but his play has been wildly inconsistent – a two-year trend. With a total of 37.6 quarterbacks, he has ranked 31st out of 33 qualified passers over the past two seasons. He bottomed out with a career-low 77 receiving yards in last Sunday’s 10-3 loss to the Patriots.
Sources said the coaches called Wilson out at a team meeting on Monday, leading some to believe his ouster was inevitable. Saleh claimed that Wilson’s post-match comments were not a factor in his decision. Wilson said he had no idea he was causing a stir until his father reached out on the phone and asked, “Brother, what are you doing?”
“It deserves,” Wilson said of the national criticism. “The way I handled the situation wasn’t right. I have to be a better footballer and then I have to be a better leader for these guys. I have a chance to turn the page here as a player and a leader.”
Cornerback DJ Reed appreciated Wilson’s apology.
He said, “Everything he said came from the heart.” “He was very genuine and everyone respected him.”
“The way I handled the situation wasn’t right. I have to be a better footballer and then I have to be a better leader for these guys. I have a chance to turn the page here as a player and a leader.”
Just three weeks earlier, Wilson received a strong vote of confidence from Saleh, who said Wilson would start the remainder of the season, barring injury. What has changed?
“There are some basic, basic things that are out of control for him,” Saleh said. “This is just an opportunity for him to sit down and focus on those things and find a way to reconnect with all the different things that we loved during the draft process. It’s something I feel he’ll be able to do.”
Saleh said there were “a few things in his game right now…that will continue to deteriorate if we keep kicking him out there”. They created a training plan that allows him to focus on those essentials. Saleh said the issues are “solvable”.
Statistically, Wilson is historically bad when under pressure. He has a tendency to look at the pass rush rather than down the field, often resulting in throws off his back foot. Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur admitted that footwork was an issue.
“I have to find a way to get him to play mainly in the bottom half,” said Lafleur.
white is not certain; He only has three career starts.
With Wilson out with a knee injury last season, White achieved near-cult hero status in his first career start, throwing for 405 yards and three touchdowns at 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 the season as the No. 3 quarterback behind Wilson and Flacco. They changed the depth chart in Week 8, promoting White to QB2—a switch that left some around the team scratching their heads. The goal, Saleh said, was to “allow him to prepare like he’s the next guy.”
And now it is.
“In the beginning, he was just excited,” White said of his reaction to the promotion. “It’s exactly what every player in that dressing room wants, a chance to compete and prove themselves. But more importantly, it’s just a chance to be a good teammate, help the team and worry about the team first.”