New York Jets fans got the ultimate holiday gift Monday. Quarterback Mike White was reportedly cleared for contact, and is expected to start for the team in Week 17, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post.
White missed the last two games after sustaining rib fractures. With White sidelined, the Jets turned back to last year's first-round pick Zach Wilson. It didn't go well. Wilson completed 51 percent of his passes for 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions over the past two weeks. The Jets lost both games.
Wilson experienced yet another low point in Week 16, as he was benched for Chris Streveler during the game. At the time of the benching, Wilson had thrown for just 92 yards on 18 attempts. Fans booed him off the field at halftime.
"I don't blame them. We have a very passionate fan base."— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) December 23, 2022
Zach Wilson on being booed by Jets fans. pic.twitter.com/1tMWmthSnA
Wilson was slated to open 2022 as the Jets' starter, but a knee injury delayed the beginning of his season. Joe Flacco started the team's first three games. Wilson returned in Week 4, and started the team's next seven contests before getting benched for White.
In three starts, White has completed 62 percent of his passes and has thrown three touchdowns against two interceptions. All of his passing touchdowns came in one game, a 31-10 blowout over the Chicago Bears. The Jets are 1-2 in White's starts this season.
White sustained a rib injury during a Week 14 loss against the Buffalo Bills, and missed two games due to the issue. Wilson was installed as the starter once again, but made it a game and a half before he was benched again. Despite benching Wilson multiple times, Jets head coach Robert Saleh continued to say encouraging things about Wilson after Thursday's game.
#Jets coach Robert Saleh on QB Zach Wilson, following his benching: “We haven't seen the last of him."— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 23, 2022
The Jets are 7-8 with two weeks to go in the regular season. The team still has an outside shot at making the playoffs.
Is this the end of Zach Wilson's time with the Jets?
If White is able to return, it would likely mark the end of Wilson's 2022 NFL season. Through a season and a half, Wilson has yet to show the skills that made him the No. 2 overall pick of the 2021 NFL draft.
Though Saleh has backed Wilson publicly, there are reports the Jets could move on from him in the offseason.
"Expect the Jets to move on from him after this season."@JayGlazer has the latest on the Jets QB situation and when we can expect to see Jalen Hurts back on the field ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/gmAqUczfue— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) December 24, 2022
If that happens, it would mark quite the fall for Wilson. Given his talent and draft pedigree, Wilson, 23, should not be written off after less than two full seasons in the NFL.
At the same time, though, he doesn't appear close to reaching that potential. Considering the Jets strong skill position players and promising defense, the team doesn't have time to waste hoping Wilson figures it out.
With a competent quarterback, the Jets could be contenders as early as next season. If the team doesn't believe Wilson can turn things around quickly, both sides are better off moving on in the offseason.