Before we talk about this Jets game, we want to go back in time and talk about three others.
A 37-10 win over the Chiefs in 2011, when Kansas City’s Tyler Palko delivered what was the worst performance by an NFL starting quarterback we have ever witnessed.
A 7-6 win over the Cardinals in 2012, when Rex Ryan realized he just needed one crummy touchdown to win, so he benched a bumbling Mark Sanchez, inserted a functional Greg McElroy and was rewarded with a victory.
And last fall’s 10-3 loss to the Patriots in Foxborough, where Robert Saleh failed to act like Ryan had a decade earlier and stuck with Zach Wilson when all he needed was one field goal drive from Joe Flacco.
All three were on our mind during Patriots 15, Jets 10 on Sunday at rain-soaked MetLife Stadium. Because Wilson’s outing was quite Palko-esque. We find it hard to believe backup Tim Boyle would not have given the Jets a better chance to win, and maybe would have done just that. And Saleh not only lacks Ryan’s situational awareness, but he inexplicably repeated the same mistake against the same team less 10 months after the original sin, allowing Bill Belichick and New England to win its 15th straight game in the so-called rivalry.
Look, you want to say that all Wilson and the Jets lost was a game. And that there are 14 more of them left to play. Besides, the Patriots were the desperate team. You can come back from 1-2. You cannot from 0-3. And hey, the offensive line is abysmal. Nathaniel Hackett called a poor game, too. And if the vaunted defense was truly 1985 Bears-level good, it would have won the damn thing on its own.
But here’s the thing. Actually, a few of them. The Jets’ line is bad, but it has been that way for a long while. The defense did enough to win the game. The Patriots stink. And general manager Joe Douglas and Saleh have done absolutely nothing to suggest they will prevent Wilson from derailing another game plan. From destroying another season. From tanking their own careers.
The Jets are not going to contend for the Super Bowl without Aaron Rodgers, but there is no reason why they cannot contend for a playoff berth. So they must accept reality. Wilson cannot see the field again. That little flurry of a late touchdown drive does not change everything our eyes have seen for two-plus seasons. And do not do the aw-shucks-almost act with that near-miss hail mart at the end.
The Patriots’ insurance safety, and everything else that happened, represents the brutal truth. This is never going to get better. Never going to work. Wilson has no feel. He cannot manage a game. And the play calling is more conservative than Barry Goldwater because Hackett and Saleh are terrified of asking him to do anything more than the bare minimum.
Boyle has to start against the Chiefs next Sunday. And there has to be a veteran signed as soon as possible. Nick Foles, Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz, Flacco, whoever. If Woody Johnson has to meddle to make it happen, so be it.
If the Jets continue to delude themselves and do anything other than hide Wilson in plain sight, this will become ugly. The season will spiral out of control. The locker room will become a zoo. Saleh will almost assuredly be fired (and likely never get a second shot as a head coach). Douglas might get canned too. And if he does survive, we all know Rodgers will become the team’s real GM in 2024.
Enough is enough. Wilson has to go. It is unfathomable the Jets would think anything else. But then again, Douglas and Saleh have a track record that tell us otherwise. And that is scary.