Did Zach Wilson show enough in Week 15 loss for the straggling Jets?

Zach Wilson Jets
Zach Wilson
AP Photo/Adam Hunger

From a basic standpoint, Zach Wilson showed improvements as a passer in the New York Jets’ Week 15 contest against the Detroit Lions. Was it enough to garner some breathing room for the former second-overall pick? 

The simple answer there is no. 

Wilson threw for 317 yards and two scores yesterday. He pushed the ball downfield in a way we really haven’t seen over the last few months when he was actually starting. But context matters in the NFL. Against the 30th pass defense in the NFL, it should be expected that the Jets and their starting quarterback could win through the air. 

A big proponent of Wilson’s case over the first few months was his ability to find ways to win for the team. A 5-2 record with wins against the Bills, Packers, and Dolphins can overshadow struggles in New England. 

But a 20-17 loss to Detroit has pushed New York further away in the race for the final seed in the AFC playoffs. By that mark, it doesn’t matter how well Wilson played or didn’t, he failed in his opportunity to keep the starting quarterback job if and when Mike White does come back from his rib injury. 

It also doesn’t help that although Wilson made numerous nice plays through the air, his struggles also kept New York away from winning. His interception in the third quarter on a poor read led to Detroit taking a 13-10 lead. 17 points alone for an offense is not sustainable when fighting for a playoff spot either. 

Wilson wasn’t entirely terrible on Sunday either though. There were plenty of big-time throws that show a potential top quarterback is somewhere in there. The problem is that Wilson’s development now hinges on where the Jets are as a team. 

The Jets made the one mistake bad franchises do with young quarterbacks. In NFL history, standard great quarterbacks need a year or two to sit on the bench, learn the game and get up to speed with the terminology. New York didn’t do that with Zach Wilson and it’s directly impacted their playoff hopes. If the Jets as a roster weren’t as good as they’ve been this season, Wilson’s struggles and growing pains would be understandable. 

That isn’t the case though. New York lost a winnable, and key football game Sunday that hurts their chances for a potential playoff berth. While Wilson didn’t play as badly as he was in New England over a month ago, he didn’t do enough to keep his starting job. 

And from where the Jets are now, that is all that matters. 

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