Everyone’s done with Zach Wilson.
They’re fed up with the Jets’ stagnant offense, if what occurred when they possessed the ball through the first three quarters Sunday could be described as an offense. They’re convinced the No. 2 pick from 2021 is a bust. Joe Namath. Mike Greenberg. The list keeps expanding by the week.
But it’s important to account for how difficult it’d be to replace Wilson on the fly. Nathaniel Hackett has already needed to redesign his offense for Wilson instead of Aaron Rodgers, but how long would it take to tailor play-calling and schemes to, say, Colt McCoy, Carson Wentz, Matt Ryan or — in every Jets fan’s dream scenario — Kirk Cousins?
This isn’t to say that the Jets should or shouldn’t move on. Rather, it’s accounting for the fact that, as ESPN writer Wright Thompson’s anthology title states, there’s a cost to anyone’s dream. The Jets dreamed the wildest vision imaginable by trading for Rodgers in March, and now they’re dealing with the ramifications — and the timeline — of a 39-year-old recovering from a torn Achilles.
They dreamed that Wilson could one day rediscover the talent he flashed at BYU, the blend of pizzazz and power that made him a consensus top-five pick. But now, they’re dealing with the reality that those strides might never materialize.
Still, there’s a cost to the decision so many have clamored for the Jets to make. Unless they traded for a signal-caller, most replacements will come with a limited ceiling. All will take time to jell and develop chemistry with Garrett Wilson, Breece Hall, Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and others.
Ryan, who said Monday in a CBS interview that he doesn’t want to quarterback the Jets and attributed rumors to his agent exploring options, threw 14 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and averaged 6.6 yards per attempt during his final season with the Colts in 2022. He was benched in favor of Sam Ehlinger before October ended.
Wentz went from a potential MVP candidate to out of the NFL six years later. He made the Pro Bowl in 2017, but after his season-ending injury, which led to Nick Foles guiding the Eagles to the Super Bowl, Wentz’s career fizzled. His interceptions skyrocketed in 2020. He played for three teams across his final three seasons, and his contract situation was detrimental to any cap situation.
McCoy went 3-3 as a replacement for the Cardinals the past three seasons, keeping Arizona close in games with the exception of a blowout loss to the 49ers in 2022.
The Cousins rumor seems to be gaining steam, though ESPN’s Adam Schefter on “The Pat McAfee Show” cautioned that it hasn’t gained any traction. Wilson, Lazard and the other wideouts certainly wouldn’t struggle to accumulate yardage and sprint downfield as Cousins launched vertical routes. The four-time Pro Bowler helped Justin Jefferson shatter records the past four seasons. Still, it would take time to sync that part of the offense together.
It’s tough to gauge the actual thinking inside the Jets’ headquarters, with Robert Saleh repeating support for Wilson press conference after press conference. Do they wish Joe Flacco still had a key to the facility? Do they wish Mike White hadn’t departed for Miami, where he threw a 68-yard pass to — of all people, ironically — ex-Jet Robbie Chosen on Sunday?
There are certainly pros if the Jets decided to bring in another quarterback option to compete with Wilson.
Maybe it’d spark something in the 24-year-old, similar to what Rodgers’ presence did and what Wilson meant with his making “that dude’s life hell in practice every day” line.
Maybe Hackett’s offense could be reconstructed again on the fly and actually work, which could serve as the most outstanding accomplishment of his coaching career if that happened and the Jets made the playoffs.
But there’s a downside — and sometimes an ugly one — to every move. The Jets’ quarterback situation wouldn’t get immensely brighter with one off-the-street signing. Their quarterback situation will be dim until Rodgers recovers from his torn Achilles and gets back onto the field.
Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas likely recognize that, and perhaps that’s why — against all logic, according to the Gang Green Fan Encyclopedia — Wilson still sits atop the depth chart. He might just be the best of the worst.
Today’s back page
🏈 VACCARO: It’s hard to get past how bad Zach Wilson has been
⚾ SHERMAN: Yankees in dire need of a front-office evolution
🏈 Giants’ plummeting offense trying to crawl out from bottom: ‘It goes back to everybody’
🏀 Liberty need to solve Sun’s top-notch defense that took away biggest strengths
🏀 Knicks promotion puts Gersson Rosas among team’s decision-makers
Not the same punch
With the exception of the condensed 2020 season, the Marlins had finished above the Mets in the NL East standings just once since 2010. There was still plenty of ground for the Mets to erase to catch the Braves, and the Nationals were always a divisional enigma across the past decade, but at the very least, there was at least one team — the one in South Florida, with poor attendance and losing records where Derek Jeter served as an executive — they were supposed to leapfrog.
That appeared to be the case across the first two weeks of 2023, too.
The Mets took six of eight games from Miami, which was their opponent for two of their opening three series.
But as the final week of the regular season begins, and as the Mets and the Marlins open their final series Tuesday, it’s Miami competing for the playoff spot that Steve Cohen’s Mets — with their record-setting payroll — were supposed to have. The Marlins bought at the trade deadline the Mets were supposed to splurge at.
Plenty has changed since April for the Mets.
Their season was all but lost by the time summer arrived. So the Mets now get the opportunity to close their season as the spoiler, with the Marlins one game back of the Cubs for the final playoff spot. The glimmer of hope from those early series have faded for the Mets. Three position players (Mark Canha, Tommy Pham and Eduardo Escobar) and two pitchers (Max Scherzer and David Robertson) who played in those games aren’t even on the roster now..
And the earliest warning signs and red flags about the Mets that surfaced back in April will be as clear as they’ve ever been. Their wins against the Marlins have just done a good job of hiding them.
In between those six victories against the Marlins, the Mets were swept by the Brewers and outscored 26-6 across that three-game set. They were shut out in the first two meetings. The final game ended with a walk-off home run by Garrett Mitchell against Adam Ottavino after the Mets blew a three-run lead.
Those flaws kept resurfacing throughout the regular season, to the point that Cohen needed to call an emergency press conference in June to endorse both GM Billy Eppler and manager Buck Showalter for the rest of the season. They were the same flaws that forced the Mets to deal Robertson (to the Marlins), Scherzer, Canha, Pham, Justin Verlander and others before the Aug. 1 trade deadline.
Back in April, the Mets at least still had the Marlins, an opponent they were a combined 49-30 against the past five seasons. The Mets took two of the three games in Queens, and everything appeared to be stabilized again. Those wins made the thought of a 14-22 record against the rest of the NL East a foolish one.
But early-season doubts about whether the Mets could beat any team besides the Marlins seem warranted now. They have eight victories against the Marlins and a .434 winning percentage against everyone else. Miami has three victories against the Mets and a .538 winning percentage against everyone else.
This time, the Mets’ punching bag has postseason dreams alive entering the final week, and if the Mets needed another reality check, the Marlins have certainly provided one.
Welcome to New York?
Sure, there’s the question of whether Wilson should remain the Jets’ starter. There’s the question of whether the Jets resemble a playoff-caliber team after three weeks. Will Aaron Rodgers return for the playoffs? Does it even matter? What happens to Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas if Gang Green doesn’t clinch at least a wild-card spot.
All valid questions.
But here’s the true unknown that’ll unite fans — and even the most casual spectators — entering their Week 4 matchup against the Chiefs: Will Taylor Swift make another appearance at MetLife Stadium, this time for “Sunday Night Football” while supporting rumored boyfriend Travis Kelce?
It’s the sports entertainment story of the week after Swift went to Arrowhead Stadium to watch Kelce and the Chiefs crush the Bears. Patrick Mahomes knew he needed to throw a touchdown to Kelce with Swift in attendance. Head coach Andy Reid joked that he set the pair up — even though Kelce’s friendship bracelet and “rock the stage in Arrowhead” pickup line have been well-documented.
Even Bill Belichick commented on something other than football, saying on a radio appearance Monday that, “Well, I would say that Travis Kelce has had a lot of big catches in his career. This would be the biggest.”
The Fox broadcast capitalized on Swift’s attendance, cutting to the suite where Swift and Donna Kelce were side-by-side throughout the game. Cameras captured the laughter and smiles. The “let’s f—king go” touchdown celebration and chest bump. The only thing missing was a “Blank Space”-esque line from Kevin Burkhardt similar to what Ian Eagle dropped on CBS the previous week.
This week, it’s NBC’s turn to bask in the Swift spotlight. Swift played three sold-out shows at the Meadowlands in May that cost a fortune to attend, though it didn’t stop Aaron Rodgers from having an “incredible” time attending with actor Miles Teller and his wife, Keleigh Teller — while also dancing to “Shake It Off.” Rodgers’ honeymoon with the Jets was still in its early stages, and the videos and photos that emerged from the concert provided a glimpse at how the 39-year-old quarterback was embracing his new destination after 18 years with the Packers.
Imagine if Rodgers wasn’t injured, with Swift in attendance and Kelce on the opposing offense. Instead, Wilson will be guiding the Jets’ offense, pending a last-second change. There might be plenty of punts. Plenty of boos. Maybe even some more teeth falling out in frustration.
But for three hours, those woes might fade away from the spotlight. Swift might be the only person who can save the Jets from further embarrassment in the national spotlight.