It’s official — the New York Jets are benching Zach Wilson in Week 12 in favor of current backup quarterback Mike White. ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter was the first to reveal the news, although many later confirmed it including head coach Robert Saleh during his November 23 press conference.
“Zach’s career here is not over,” Saleh made sure to point out immediately. “I know that’s going to be the narrative, I know that’s what everybody wants to shout out, and that’s not even close to the case. The intent, the full intent, is to make sure Zach gets back on the football field at some point this year. When that is, I’ll make that decision.”
Needless to say, this bombshell created a total duststorm of social media reactions from Jets fans to media members around the NFL. Even some players got involved in the fun, including ex-Jets star Jamal Adams, who has seemingly embraced the role of NYJ villain since being traded.
Jamal Adams Trolls Jets’ Decision to Bench Zach Wilson
Adams’ response was simple, an infamous GIF of Jay Z and Beyonce entering the room and cringing. No words were said but the message was clear as boatloads of Jets fans reacted in the comments.
“You’re kidding right? You? YOU of all people are talking,” one final fan said. “We got Garrett Wilson and AVT [Alijah Vera-Tucker] because of you.”
Adams’ Seattle Seahawks are 6-4 behind another former Jet, Geno Smith. Up until this weekend, they held an unexpected lead in the typically strong NFC West. The cinderella story has nothing to do with Adams, however.
The defensive playmaker made one start in 2022 before suffering a season-ending injury. He has also missed four or more games in each of his campaigns with Seattle, having accomplished very little since his Pro Bowl nod in 2020.
Robert Saleh Explains Zach Wilson-Mike White Decision
Back to the quarterback change ahead of the Week 12 matchup with the Chicago Bears, Saleh spent the entire presser fielding questions on it, just about.
“The young man needs a reset,” Saleh told reporters early in the Q&A. “His decision-making’s been fine, his practice habits — all that stuff — have been fine, but there are some basic fundamental things that have gotten really out of whack for him.”
“This is not putting a nail in his coffin,” Saleh reiterated later. “It’s not even close to that.” He added that a “rejuvenated” Wilson will eventually show why he was the second overall pick.
As for Wilson’s controversial postgame comment, the Jets HC made it clear that they did not bench him because of that — or at least, so he says.
“I think guys have empathy for one another when it comes to how difficult this job is and the heat of the moment [at the end of the game] and the way we lost and the way we all played,” Saleh reasoned. “For Zach and his teammates, maybe there was a little irritation at the moment but I don’t think there’s a grudge, I don’t think there’s hate, I don’t think there [are] lingering effects… It had no bearing on this decision.”
“This isn’t just a Zach thing,” Saleh noted after another question, “our receivers need to get better with the alignments, our receivers need to get better with route-running and consistency, our run game needs to be more consistent, our O-lines gotta be better in protection, as coaches we’ve gotta be better with regards to scheme and play-calling. We’ve all got to be better.”
Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur addressed the room after Saleh, taking full accountability for Wilson’s failures in New York. “I gotta do a better job. I gotta do a better job for him, I gotta do a better job for the offense. I truly believe it starts with me and ends with me,” he stated.
LaFleur concluded: “I haven’t done a good enough job to get the consistency out of him, so that starts and ends with me.”