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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Sports and Society: Zach Wilson and quarterback ethics

The New York Jets cannot continue to allow Zach Wilson to be their starting quarterback. They just cannot.

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Do football teams have a responsibility to their fans?

I think they probably do, but I had never thought about this much until I watched the New York Jets voluntarily start Zach Wilson at quarterback — someone who is incapable of winning NFL football games — for a second consecutive week. Should they be required by law to replace him?

It may be a bit unfair to rip the Jets for starting Wilson, as they did in fact move heaven and earth to not start him this offseason. After Wilson produced two years of utter disappointment, mind-bending incompetence and a massive body of work proving that he is not an NFL starting quarterback, the Jets engaged in an eons-long courtship with Aaron Rodgers, a future Hall-of-Famer, to save them.

But the Jets forgot one thing: monsters from the Id (if you got that reference, you rock). The Jets are a cursed franchise, destined to wander the earth without a quarterback and to lose to the New England Patriots until the end of time. So per the universe’s desires, two weeks before they could face the Patriots this past Sunday, Rodgers tore his Achilles on the fourth play of the year and was promptly ruled out for the season.

I have been a card-carrying member of the Making Fun of Zach Wilson Club since early 2021. But after the final experiment in Wilsonism petered out last year, I turned a new leaf, hoping he could stitch together a nice career as a quality backup by taking a year off and learning from Rodgers. I actually wanted him to succeed.

But I also have eyes, which, on Sunday, watched Wilson play four quarters of the driest, most uninspiring football in American history, gift-wrapping a win for my Patriots, who I am hardly convinced are good. Not only was I witnessing a quarterback who was completely unable to move the ball forward, but one who didn’t look like he had any idea how he would even try to do so.

The CBS broadcast understood the assignment completely, cutting to horrified Jets fans every time Wilson checked it down to a two-yard out route on fourth-and-10. Eventually, the broadcast began cutting to horrified Jets players, who looked flabbergasted that they had to go try to win a football game as their quarterback was seeing ghosts.

As a Patriots fan, I thoroughly enjoyed Wilson winning the game for us this afternoon and wasn’t going to write this column. That was until Jets coach Robert Saleh said postgame that Wilson would remain the team’s starting quarterback, which sent me into a raging fury and forced me to ask a serious ethical question: Can the Jets continue to do this to their fans?

The New York Jets were this year’s winner of the illustrious Offseason Super Bowl Championship, a pejorative award I like to give out to the team that had the most mega-hyped offseason without ever actually winning a football game. But now they face a brave new world, where their squad is actually worse on paper than it was last year.

Logically, they should tank. Because Rodgers did not reach a 65% snap threshold, the Jets own their first round pick. They have no incentive to even attempt to win games because they have no chance of winning the Super Bowl without Aaron Rodgers.

But I don’t care about logic. They cannot continue to do this to their fans. At least last year’s backup quarterback Mike White –– now on the buzzsaw Miami Dolphins –– was exciting. Wilson is dead in the water, and they have to find someone else. They have to.

Trade for Jacoby Brissett, I hear he’s not doing anything. Maybe Carson Wentz or Matt Ryan want to give it a go. It actually doesn’t matter who they get, but it can’t be Wilson. It just ethically cannot.