EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The frustrated, rain-soaked New York Jets fans were flat-out tired.
Of getting drenched. Of being embarrassed. Of watching their quarterback fail snap after snap.
The booing of Zach Wilson began in the first quarter and got louder just before at halftime when his desperation throw was intercepted. The fans had seen enough late in the third quarter, and Robert Saleh and the Jets knew they needed to do something.
Wilson was replaced by Chris Streveler, elevated from the practice squad a few hours before New York’s 19-3 loss to Trevor Lawrence and the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday night.
“We were trying to change up to get the run game going,” Saleh said, refusing to call it a benching. “Obviously, I know Zach was struggling, but Streveler came in, ran a couple of plays and sparked the offense, got the explosive play and it just snowballed — in a good way for Strev.
“We just wanted to give him an opportunity for him to finish that drive. By the time we got it back, we said, we’re already here, let’s just keep going with Strev.”
And the Jets are left with one massive question when it comes to their quarterback situation: Now what?
Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick last year, was no match for Lawrence, picked one spot ahead of him. While Lawrence has blossomed in his second season, Wilson has faltered badly.
He went 9 of 18 for 92 yards with an interception and a dismal 41.9 rating for the Jets (7-8), whose playoff hopes took a devastating hit with their fourth straight loss.
“I just felt like I didn’t have any rhythm out there,” Wilson said. “I was just trying to find some confidence out there on the field and just find something to get us going, a little spark. I had opportunities, and I’ve got to really connect on those.”
But on a wet and windy night at MetLife Stadium, those chances came at a minimum. Wilson made throws that either sailed past his receivers or missed them completely. And the banged-up offensive line provided little protection for Wilson, who was making his second start after a three-game benching because Mike White is sidelined with a rib injury.
“Right now, the feeling is I’ve just got to put my head down and try to get better for these guys,” Wilson said. “That’s kind of my message when I’m out there, that I’m trying to give everything I’ve got. I’m trying to lay it out there for the guys.
“And it’s not good enough.”
Not at all.
That’s what has the Jets in a quarterback quandary. Do they continue to put Wilson out there despite his inability to function in the offense at a high level?
“We haven’t seen the last of him,” Saleh said.
But perhaps the next time could be a while. Especially since the Jets are fighting for their playoff lives with only road games at Seattle and Miami left on their schedule.
Saleh was not prepared to consider who’ll start the next game, saying he and the offensive staff would take the Christmas weekend to think about it and make a decision next Monday. A lot will depend on White’s health.
The fact is, the offense has looked a lot more efficient with White, Joe Flacco or even Streveler running things than it has with Wilson. The Jets will be in the market for a quarterback in the offseason, either to compete with Wilson or to replace him.
“I’ve got to look myself in the mirror,” Wilson said. “I’ve got to go back and watch this tape. You’ve got to be hard on yourself. You just say, ‘Why are we not moving the ball?’ And that starts with me.”
This is what it has come down to for the Jets and Wilson — just 20 months removed from being drafted as the face of the franchise. The same fans who once cheered him would now rather see a fourth-string former CFL player under center for their team.
“I don’t blame them,” Wilson said of the fans. “We have a very passionate fan base and they’re here to watch us score touchdowns and we’re not scoring touchdowns. We’re not getting first downs, we’re not moving the ball. We obviously can’t throw the ball.
“So, of course they’re going to be frustrated.”