To play in a city like this, in front of a fanbase as passionate as this, you need to believe in yourself and it felt like the BYU product had that in spades. Somewhere along the way, however, that confidence was shattered.
Whether it was by the media, the fans, his teammates, or even the opposition, something appears to have broken in Wilson and it seems to be mental, not physical. The youngster played like he was walking on eggshells on Thursday night — terrified to make a mistake and tight on most, if not all, of his throws.
After the game, head coach Robert Saleh spoke to Wilson’s current level of confidence and his words were quite telling.
Jets’ Robert Saleh Admits Zach Wilson’s Confidence Is Low
“Confidence is a big thing,” Saleh admitted to reporters during his postgame press conference before collecting his thoughts and taking a massive deep breath.
“As a man, you’re going to have adversity. As a human, you’re going to have adversity in your life, you’re going to have the ups and downs, and obviously he’s in it right now,” the Jets HC continued candidly. “Zach’s the type of kid that’s going to work his tail off, he’s going to keep his head down, and he’s going to find ways to continue to improve. Obviously, you’d be remiss if you didn’t acknowledge the fact that there’s a confidence thing there because when people are confident, they can conquer the world.”
It’s clear as day that Wilson is playing with zero confidence right now and you cannot start at quarterback in the National Football League without it. These are split-second decisions, tight-window throws, and gutsy moments that are required and the second-year signal-caller is second-guessing every thought that pops into his head.
That leads to holding the ball too long, missing defensive alignments, inaccurate passing, and overall inefficiency. To put it simply, there’s no room for hesitation in the NFL.
When fans watch Mike White or Chris Streveler, you don’t see any of that because these journeyman guys are very aware that they are competing for their career out there. It’s put up or go home on every single snap, and some rise to the occasion in moments like that while others — like Wilson the past couple of games — drown under the pressure of it all.
As countless observers have stated on social media over the past 12 hours or so, it’s getting really hard to see how Wilson comes back from this in New York City. “It’s just something that we’ve got to help him with too,” Saleh concluded. “Again, it starts with coaching.”
Robert Saleh Claims He’s Not Ready to Give Up on Zach Wilson
The next morning on December 23, Coach Saleh reiterated that confidence issues are a “tough thing to try to overcome.”
He added that it “doesn’t take much to flip” these mental problems, providing the first half versus the Detroit Lions as an example of a moment when Wilson strung some plays together with confidence. “We’re not going to quit on him,” Saleh voiced, “and that [goes] for every player in our locker room.”
That was the big Saleh guarantee from this morning. “As long as they’re wearing a Jets logo we’re going to pour our hearts and souls into them and [we’re] going to do everything we can to help them,” he told reporters boldly.
To his credit, Saleh took accountability for the quarterback issues several times throughout both press conferences. “I’m responsible for it also,” he noted again this morning. “It starts with me.”
The Jets HC also pushed off the Week 17 quarterback decision to Monday, which gives the medical staff some more time to reevaluate White’s fractured ribs.