Sometimes there is a perception in the NFL that as soon as you bench someone, you’re calling time on their season or even their career. It’s a perception that I find hard to understand. Benching someone simply means that at that moment, you believe in trying something else. Then you reevaluate through the week and make the best decision for the franchise moving forward.
With New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson missing wide-open receivers (he completed 4 of his 9 passes to receivers with at least 3 yards of separation), head coach Robert Saleh had a duty to the rest of the team to try something new. Wilson ended up completing 40.9% of his passes for less than 80 yards and it was up to the coach to take him out.
I’m no believer in Mike White, I’m not one of these guys calling for the backup because I think he’s a franchise QB, but I do believe in trying something different when what you’re doing isn’t working. There was no reason for Zach to be still in the game in the 4th quarter when he had shown no ability to complete the simplest tasks asked of a QB. For all the heat that offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur should take for his game plan, there isn’t much you can do when your quarterback misses a 5-yard screen pass by throwing a ball Yao Ming would have struggled to come down with.
When asked in the press conference about whether he saw any spark in the offense, Saleh simply responded “no”, which is a very accurate and honest response. The point that was missed here is that the coach is responsible for finding that spark. Had he done all he could to find it then that would be one thing, but Saleh simply didn’t try. Instead, he was happy to watch his QB miss open receiver after open receiver, he was happy to see Zach panic whenever a rusher was within the vicinity, because had he not been happy he would have tried something new to offer a spark.
Right now it doesn’t matter if Zach plays good, bad or ugly...he knows he’s safe and will continue to be the starter. That rarely leads to success.
Let’s not beat about the bush, had the Jets received just competent, below-average production from the QB position they walk out of Foxborough with a victory. Unfortunately, they didn’t even get that, and Zach was allowed to complete a game he had no right to complete. He was allowed to walk into the press conference and skirt accountability by saying he didn’t feel he and the offense let the defense down. Sorry Zach, but you absolutely let down the offense and so did Robert Saleh by not benching you and moving to Mike White, if only for one quarter.
I don’t expect Saleh to bench Wilson this week, but if we see a repeat of Sunday’s performance against the Chicago Bears, Saleh has to put on his big-boy pants and make a call that’s in the best interest of the team. Wilson has played 20 games now and has shown little to no improvement in many key aspects, the Jets can’t keep losing games in the interest of protecting and coddling number 2.