The Jets’ quarterback change from Wilson to White shows that nobody is above accountability. To call Zach Wilson’s performance last Sunday bad would be a massive understatement.

In the Jets’ 10-3 loss to the New England Patriots, Wilson threw for 77 yards and only had nine total completions. There were hopes that they could once and for all exercise the patriot demons that have haunted them. But, as I mentioned in my game recap earlier in the week, the second-year quarterback played even worse than what the stats showed. Wilson missed open reads and was erratic in the pocket. In addition, his accuracy was troubling, as his poor mechanics caused him to airmail wide-open targets.

Overall, it was another discouraging performance from Wilson. Even with poor offensive line play in the run game, Wilson’s ineffectiveness hamstrung the offense. As a result, it played a role in causing the play-calling from offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur to be lackluster.

This was the second time Wilson cratered against the Patriots, as he sank the Jets with three interceptions in their 22-17 loss on October 30th. Yet, this past week’s loss was different, as Wilson did not choose to take accountability for the offense’s play after the game.

Wilson’s comments, coupled with multiple defensive players liking negative tweets about Wilson’s play and Garrett Wilson calling out the offense’s consistency, had the potential to create a massive rift in the Jets’ locker room. The highly drafted quarterback was, seemingly, coming off as entitled to his teammates and had the potential to cause issues for a team that is still in the middle of the playoff picture.

The situation was pivotal for Robert Saleh and his tenure as the Jets head coach. Was he going to continue to roll with Wilson, despite evidence that the locker room was frustrated with him? Or was Saleh going to feel the pulse of the locker room and make the best decision for the team, stressing the accountability he used in Elijah Moore’s situation a few weeks prior?

Saleh, as has been a common theme this year, proved that the Jets’ culture has changed under his watch. The head coach first declined to name Wilson the starter against the Chicago Bears and then officially named Mike White the starting quarterback on Wednesday. In turning away from Zach Wilson, Saleh showed that he is committed to doing what is best for the team in every situation.

Speaking at his press conference, Saleh said that White is “fully capable” of leading the Jets.

“As I said, he’s won games with us, he does a great job in practice, he’s done a great job in games for us. He’s extremely competent as a quarterback and he’s got the ability to make all the throws on the football field, and run the offense in the manner that we need to. You know I said it three weeks ago, whatever it was, that he’s going to be next to get an opportunity, and that opportunity is now.”

Saleh also spoke about Wilson’s future with the Jets and the prospect of the quarterback seeing the field again for the team.

“The biggest thing with Zach and the same things we’ve talked about is, the young man needs a reset. His decision-making has been fine. His practice habits have been fine, but there are some basic, fundamental things that have gotten really out of whack for him, and this is an opportunity to sit back, focus on those things, and find a way to reconnect to all the different things we fell in love with during the draft process. It’s something that I feel like he’ll be able to do. I think to ask him to do all those things while preparing for a game is unfair, but at the same time, it’s something just talking with Zach that we’re all excited to attack…So, this is not putting a nail in his coffin.”

White and Wilson both spoke after the decision was made. White said he is “excited” to have an opportunity to start and “prove himself” as a quarterback. He also spoke about his mentality for approaching the game Sunday.

“I’m just going to go out there and execute the game plan as coached and as talked about throughout the week and do it to the best of my ability and fight like hell for my guys out there,” said White.

Wilson, taking a different approach from his comments last Sunday, said the questions surrounding him about his accountability were “deserved”.

“The way that I handled the situation wasn’t right. I got to be a better football player, and I got to be a better leader for these guys. I have the opportunity to turn the page here as a player and as a leader and be able to take a step forward and be able to be here 100% for my guys and be able to handle situations correctly.”

Wilson also spoke about his mentality for moving forward past this Sunday.

“I’m looking forward to the future and from this event, how I can grow as a person, as a leader, as a teammate, and being there for my guys and handling things the right way. This is going to be a good opportunity, a humbling opportunity to put my head down and work harder and just be here for this team.”

The craziest part about the Jets’ season is that, despite a drama-filled stretch, the team has one of its best records in recent memory and is contending for a playoff spot in the AFC. Sitting at 6-4, the Jets currently hold the number seven seed in the conference after the Patriots lost to the Vikings on Thanksgiving Night.

The Jets’ Quarterback Change from Wilson to White Shows That Nobody is Above Accountability

This is the crux of why, at least in the short term, Saleh and the Jets needed to make a change at quarterback. The Jets have an elite-level defense, led by an attacking defensive line and a lockdown secondary. In addition, the Jets have the potential to have a complementary offense, as receivers have been open in recent weeks in the short and intermediate passing games. By switching to White, a less talented QB than Wilson but a better processor and decision-maker, there is immediate room for improvement in this regard. If the Jets can improve this, there will not be many games they cannot compete in or win for the rest of the season.

The unfortunate side-effect of this decision is the long-term outlook at the Jets’ quarterback position. Despite what the coaching staff says, Wilson being benched is an admission that he is not progressing at the level the team expected or wanted him to.

There are many questions to answer in this regard. Among them are if this situation will lead to a player like Jimmy Garoppolo or Derek Carr leading the Jets’ offense next year, backed up by a rookie selected in the second or third round of the NFL Draft. Also, does Zach Wilson even have a spot on the 2023 Jets roster at the moment, and if he does, what role will he be in?

Those questions can, and will, be answered at the end of the season. Currently, the Jets’ main priority is winning football games and breaking a playoff drought that dates back to the early 2010s. The organization has a prime opportunity to end the drought this year, and the most glaring weakness on the roster has been the quarterback holding back the offense.

As a result, the Jets made a quarterback switch that gives them the best ability to win down the stretch with the current iteration of their roster. And making the switch from Zach Wilson to Mike White, Robert Saleh showed that no player is above accountability for their play on the field or actions off the field, even if that player is the desired face of the franchise for an organization.