The NY Jets’ Playoff hopes ended Thursday night playing against the Jacksonville Jaguars. A victory would have improved their record to 8-7. With that win and wins against the Seahawks and Dolphins, the Jets essentially would have been a playoff team. So the Zach Wilson playoff-era hopes are over.

The opportunity was there for the team. Quinnen Williams was returning to the lineup, giving the Jets a further chance to exploit the Jaguars’ weak interior offensive line. In addition, Zach Wilson and the offense had an opportunity to exploit another weak secondary, especially with the return of Corey Davis. If the team could execute their opportunities, they would have a good shot at winning the game.

To put it lightly, the Jets cratered on Thursday night. Losing 19-3 to the Jaguars, the Jets were thoroughly outplayed in every aspect of the game. As a result, they saw their playoff hopes essentially evaporate.

The defense did not put out their best effort on Thursday. Trevor Lawrence had 51 yards rushing and a touchdown, while Travis Etienne Jr. had 83 rushing yards. Lawrence only had 229 yards passing, but he consistently found open targets underneath. Evan Engram was the leading receiver, having seven receptions for 113 yards. Head Coach Doug Pederson had a great game plan to attack the Jets and was able to exploit specific matchups to put his team in advantageous situations.

Despite the less-than-stellar performance, the Jets still held Jacksonville to 19 points and one offensive touchdown. Quinnen Williams still made an impact in the game, as he had a strip sack and caused issues in the backfield. Cornerbacks D.J Reed and Sauce Gardner shut down the outside receivers, as no one had above 30 yards receiving.

Unfortunately, it was the offense that let down the Jets once again on Thursday. The offensive line did not perform well in the run game again; Ty Johnson led all Jets’ running backs with seven yards on the ground. They also struggled in pass protection against a slightly depleted Jacksonville defensive line. Drops and penalties were also a problem, putting the team behind in their situational playcalling. While these issues were glaring, they were not the most significant on offense.

Quarterback Zach Wilson showed that, even with three weeks out of the starting lineup, he could not run the Jets’ offense to its fullest capability. He was still missing wide-open receivers, namely Corey Davis on a dig route and Garrett Wilson on a hitch route. Wilson also struggled to handle the pressure in the pocket, holding the ball for long stretches and taking bad sacks.

It ultimately resulted in Wilson being removed for Chris Streveler late in the game. Despite a lack of arm strength and NFL experience, Streveler immediately sparked the Jets’ offense. He led the team down the field through a combination of running and passing, as Streveler had 90 passing yards and 53 rushing yards in essentially one full quarter.

This was yet another quarterback that outplayed Zach Wilson in the Jets’ offense, adding to a list that includes Mike White, Josh Johnson, and Joe Flacco. After being benched for the second time this season and looking worse than Streveler, it is safe to say that the Zach Wilson era is over for the Jets. Despite the ability for big plays, he has lacked the consistency to play quarterback at an average level. Between missed reads, miscommunication, and costly turnovers, Wilson has made things harder on himself and the team all season long. This has led to Wilson costing his team games earlier in the season, specifically against New England, and not giving them a fighting chance later in the year against a team like Jacksonville.

Jets’ Playoff Hopes Ended Thursday Night

Head Coach Robert Saleh spoke postgame about Wilson and his possible improvement in light of his second benching.

“I feel like he has gotten better, but we have to go show it on the football field. Again, it’s a collective thing. It starts with coaching. Either way, it wasn’t close to good enough today.”

Saleh also spoke about Wilson’s future with the Jets after this season.

“You know, we’re never going to quit on anybody, Rich. I’ve got confidence in all our guys. I don’t know how many years I’ve been in the league now, it’s been a while, but I just feel like every single year there’s a kid who’s just struggling, and everybody wants to quit on him, and this might not be their year, but it doesn’t mean that next year can’t be their year. That’s everybody on the roster, and as long as that person is wearing a Jets uniform, we’re going to do everything we can to put our hearts and souls into these kids. Now, at the end of the day, the best players will always play, you guys know that, that’s how we stand, but at the same time, as long as they’re here, as long as they’re playing for the Jets, we’re going to pour everything we can to help them be the best version of themselves they can be.”

Unless the Jets win their last two games and miracles in their favor occur, all eyes are toward 2023. They have shown the ability to compete against and beat some of the best teams in the NFL. The season will bring the return of Breece Hall, Alijah Vera-Tucker, and potentially Mekhi Becton. In addition, the organization will be able to patch up holes along the o-line, add talent to the linebacker and safety positions, and shore up the depth at the end and wide receiver.

Nothing matters, though, if the Jets cannot figure out the quarterback position. With a talented roster in place, the Jets need to target a veteran quarterback that can run the offense effectively and efficiently. Whether it is Lamer Jackson(unlikely), Jimmy Garappolo, Derek Carr, or another veteran, the Jets cannot run back the same quarterback room as last season. Mike White should be on the roster as a backup-type option, and it remains to be seen if the Jets still will keep Zach Wilson around in any capacity.

The storylines from the Wilson benching will swirl about the Jets missing out on Trevor Lawrence and passing on Justin Fields, both of which are fun possibilities to think about. Yet, they are what-if scenarios and are in the past. This Jets regime, led by Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas, is getting a rare second chance at a quarterback this off-season. With how talented the roster is, the right decision can catapult the Jets into contention, while the wrong decision could have the Jets searching for a new GM and coach in 2024.

Make no mistake; this off-season will most likely become make or break for Saleh and Douglas. It will be fascinating to see how they handle the quarterback position, as their decision will have ripple effects on how the Jets progress in the next few years. But, even more so than last year, it could be the most important Jets’ offseason in years. And now, more than ever, the Jets need to get it right.