There is reason to question if Zach Wilson has learned how to play the quarterback position better since last season. What he has been able to do, though, is learn to drop his stank attitude and go over the top in accepting blame in defeat. Wilson fell on his sword in front of the media following the New York Jets’ heartbreaking, 23-20, loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
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In primetime in front of the Swifties, the Chiefs offense struggled mightily. Patrick Mahomes did not look comfortable in the pocket for most of the night,for the Chiefs, throwing two interceptions. And Wilson led the Jets with more poise and crisp play than he has this season by a wide margin.
But just as Wilson was about to make it through the night turnover free, he dropped a shotgun snap midway through the fourth quarter while the Jets were driving and the Chiefs recovered it. The fumble was lost with seven minutes and 30 seconds remaining in the game, and the Jets offense never returned to the field until it was time to shake hands.
During that final Chiefs’ drive, Jets punter Thomas Morestead put his arm around Wilson as the young quarterback said, “I lost us the game.” At one point, veteran wide receivers Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb were trying so hard to comfort him that the moment was borderline heartwarming.
After the game, Wilson ate every morsel of that loss in front of the media without even being prompted. He was asked about those tender sideline moments, and he continued to stuff his face with blame.
“Critical situation like that, I cannot drop the ball.” Wilson said to the media. “This team is sacrificing a lot, you know guys were making plays. Defense was making plays, O-line was protecting, receivers were making plays, and to be driving right there and to drop a snap, I cannot do that.
“I lost us that game.”
Wilson was in need of some image repair after last season, but I almost wanted to seek out the young lad and go Good Will Hunting on him by repeating, “It’s not your fault,” until he finally snapped out of it.
The move in sports is to always let your teammates and coaches deflect the blame on your behalf, but his head coach was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the game’s waning seconds because of questionable officiating. There was a lot of blame pie to be passed around for the Jets’ most recent defeat. Also, Wilson definitely could have said that Lazard, Morestead, and Cobb were being good teammates and trying to speak positivity into him, while still assuming responsibility for the fumble.
However, it is good to see that he learned his lesson from last season when his teammates turned on him so hard that they were wearing “Mike F’n White” T-shirts at practice. They reportedly were not pleased with his attitude, and the press conference when he dismissed the idea that he was letting the defense down was a low public moment. He doubled that up with sideline pouting after being benched. A pissy face after poor play, that is certainly the NOT way to win over a locker room.
He and Aaron Rodgers having a jolly good time with each other on HBO’s Hard Knocks was the start of a 2023 rebrand for both. They were seen as jerks, as neither one played as well as he would have liked last season. Then in Week 1, Rodgers was forced to sit down on the MetLife Stadium turf and Wilson was back into a leadership position.
Until Week 4, Wilson’s play hadn’t changed much from 2022. However, his presentation most certainly has been for the better. He glued that scarlet letter on his jersey Sunday night like it was a protestor on the court at a Minnesota Timberwolves playoff game.
Maybe his game will continue to improve after recent success, but his accountability and attitude has already gotten better by leaps and bounds.