The New York Jets' plan for their quarterback position in 2023 was to have four-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers start and 2021 second-overall pick Zach Wilson learn from him through observation. Wilson has since been thrown back into the fiery world of being an NFL starting quarterback, and his performance level has remained relatively unchanged when stacked up against the rest of the league.
In Gang Green's 16-12 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on "Sunday Night Football" in Week 10, Wilson threw for 263 yards and an interception on 23-of-39 passing. The defeat marked Wilson's eighth career start with no team offensive touchdowns, tied for the most such starts by as starting quarterback in their first three seasons in the 21st Century along with Joey Harrington's eight from 2002-2004 with the Detroit Lions.
However, Jets head coach Robert Saleh said he thought his 24-year-old quarterback did a "decent job" in his postgame press conference Sunday night.
"I thought he did alright," Saleh said Sunday after the loss. "Obviously, I'm sure there are a couple plays he wants back. I thought the linebacker [Raiders linebacker Robert Spillane] made an unbelievable play on the interception. I thought he moved around the pocket well and picked up some good yards with his legs. We were converting third downs [7-16 on third down conversions], I think it was our best rate of converting them. To give a full assessment on Zach, it would be fair to ask everyone around him to play a little bit better, especially with the penalties. Overall, I thought he did a decent job."
Wilson's play this season has been anything but decent or alright as he ranks near the bottom of the NFL in most passing metrics. He became the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era (since 1966) to have the league's lowest passer rating in consecutive seasons in 2020 and 2021. Wilson has improved in that category with a career-high 74.6 passer rating in 2023, but it still ranks bottom five in the league, 30th out of 33 qualified quarterbacks this season. His 19 career passing touchdowns through 30 career starts are tied for the fewest through a player's first 30 career starts since 2000 along with former San Francisco 49ers first overall pick Alex Smith.
Zach Wilson stats and rankings this season
Expected Points Added/Play
* Out of 33 qualified quarterbacks in 2023
Despite that body of work, Saleh doubled down on his Sunday night comments, saying Wilson is playing "pretty well" and that almost everything else needs to change around him.
"He's actually playing pretty well... Nothing with the quarterback [Zach Wilson], nothing with the play-caller [offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett]," Saleh said Monday when asked about offensive changes. "We are looking at things schematically, the things that we can do differently. Trying to feature more of the things that our guys are comfortable with game plan permitting. As far as meetings go, meetings structure, practice habits, practice plans and all that, we're looking at everything. As far as personnel changes, we're looking at some personnel changes I'm going to keep here with me. We're looking across the board to see if we can generate some offense."
Since Saleh's defense is one of the 10 best in the NFL -- 19.1 points per game allowed, seventh-best in NFL -- the Jets don't need Wilson to raise his game a lot, but some noticeable improvement would go a long way in righting their season, which at 4-5 is starting to slip away.