Struggling Jets QB Shines Bright to Snap Five-Game Skid
In his first start since being benched last month, New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson turned in arguably the best performance of his career on Sunday, leading the Jets to a 30-6 rout over the Houston Texans.
Wilson, who had come under fire in recent weeks for poor play and questionable leadership, silenced his critics by delivering a nearly flawless outing. He completed 21 of 30 passes for 317 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, finishing with a sterling 130.1 passer rating.
The second-year QB showed poise and precision from the start, efficiently leading the Jets on scoring drives on four of their first five possessions. His 55-yard touchdown bomb to receiver Garrett Wilson was a thing of beauty that gave New York an early 10-0 advantage.
“Today he went out there and he was just playing football. That right there is what we need,” said Jets coach Robert Saleh about Wilson’s performance.
Texans’ Woeful Defense Wilts Under Wilson Onslaught
Facing the Texans’ porous defense, ranked 30th overall entering Week 14, Wilson adeptly picked apart a unit that had no answers for New York’s balanced attack.
Houston lost standout rookie defensive back Jalen Pitre to injury early on, further hampering its efforts to slow Wilson and the Jets. New York racked up 348 total yards on the day, while holding Houston to just 202 yards of offense.
“We just didn’t play winning football,” said Texans coach DeMeco Ryans. His team’s sixth straight loss dropped Houston to 1-11-1 on the year.
Rookie Texans quarterback Davis Mills continued to struggle mightily, getting replaced by backup Jeff Driskel for much of the second half after going 7-for-16 for 104 yards and two interceptions against the Jets defense. Third-string QB Kyle Allen also saw late action after Driskel exited with a hand injury.
Key Performances Power Jets’ First Win Since October
While Wilson grabbed the spotlight with his standout effort, he received plenty of support from his Jets teammates:
- Running back Zonovan Knight rushed for 90 yards on 15 carries in place of injured starter Michael Carter
- Rookie wideout Garrett Wilson had 6 catches for 86 yards, including the 55-yard TD strike
- Veteran receiver Randall Cobb hauled in a scoring catch, his first TD as a Jet
- Braxton Berrios returned a punt for a touchdown to help put the game out of reach
- The Jets defense forced 5 turnovers while allowing just 202 yards to Houston
“| Jets Key Performers | Stat Line |”
| QB Zach Wilson | 21/30, 317 yards, 3 TD |
| RB Zonovan Knight | 15 carries, 90 yards |
| WR Garrett Wilson | 6 catches, 86 yards, 1 TD |
| WR Randall Cobb | 4 catches, 58 yards, 1 TD |
| PR Braxton Berrios | 1 punt return TD |
“It was complementary football,” said Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley. “Offense put up points early, then defense got turnovers, special teams scored…”
That across-the-board effort resulted in New York’s first victory since Week 8, snapping a deflating five-game losing streak. At 7-6, the Jets kept their faint playoff hopes alive while delivering retribution to Houston for a last-second loss earlier this season.
Wilson Bounces Back After Week of Turmoil
Wilson’s stellar showing capped a tumultuous week for the 23-year-old quarterback. After riding the bench for three games behind backup Mike White, Wilson only regained his starting job once White suffered fractured ribs in last week’s loss to Buffalo.
In the days leading up to Sunday’s game, Wilson then found himself in the center of controversy. Reports surfaced alleging that he had lost credibility within the Jets locker room due to his lack of accountability and failure to properly prepare.
Wilson firmly rebuffed those claims and let his play do the talking versus Houston. His teammates took notice of his determination.
“You heard all the negative media, some people saying he lost the locker room…It was good to see guys rally around him,” said veteran left tackle Duane Brown.
“Zach did a great job bouncing back,” agreed receiver Corey Davis, who benefitted from Wilson’s resurgent play.
What This Means for Wilson and the Jets Moving Forward
While one impressive outing does not definitively prove Wilson has turned a corner in his development, Sunday’s breakthrough showing undoubtedly changes the conversation and buys the young QB more leash from Jets brass.
Wilson is now 5-2 over the last two seasons when throwing zero interceptions, so he must continue to value ball security. But the arm talent and playmaking ability he possesses was also on full display against Houston. Wilson made several challenging throws that show why New York drafted him second overall in 2021.
With playoff-contending foes like Detroit and Jacksonville still looming the next two weeks, Wilson must try to replicate his efficiency from this game. If he falters down the stretch, calls for the Jets to again bench him or pursue a veteran alternative this offseason will only intensify.
But if Wilson can build on this momentum and close the year strong, it would not only lift the Jets toward an improbable Wild Card berth, it would provide him invaluable experience entering 2023.
New York has surrounded its young quarterback with talent at the skill positions. Now Zach Wilson must continue to progress as a decision-maker and prove Sunday’s standout effort was no fluke if he hopes to convince Jets brass that he is truly their long-term answer under center.
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