The New York Jets went into last season with Sam Darnold as their starting quarterback. He needed to impress, and he definitely did not. The former management did nothing to support him, and obviously, he floundered. Joe Flacco, former elite NFL Quarterback, even had to step in for a few games here and there. With the Jets’ and Darnold’s season being a wash, they decided to move on from him. They were able to trade him to the Carolina Panthers for draft picks. In the 2021 NFL Draft, they drafted Zach Wilson, who figures to step in right away at #1 on the depth chart. With a different looking quarterback room, there is a lot of uncertainty in who could be his backup, and many fans may not even be able to name another quarterback on the roster. This is the New York Jets Position Group Breakdown Series #1: Quarterbacks.
Question 1: Who is Starting?
The first question many Jets fans might have is “Who is starting?” The answer is simple: Zach Wilson. Wilson was drafted 2nd overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, and they brought him in to become the new face of the franchise. He will have the starting job from day one, despite his comments about having to fight for the job. The new system that Mike LaFleur is bringing from San Fransisco should be perfect for his skill set. It will include a nice zone running scheme, good for setting up Play-Action throws, and Wilson can use his athleticism to make sharp throws from outside of the pocket. The main passing game should include lots of short passes, which could be good with a shaky offensive line. Fans should come into this season with a sense of cautious optimism.
Question 2: What are the Other Options?
Outside of Zach Wilson, the Jets have James Morgan and Mike White, the only other Quarterbacks on the depth chart. Morgan is somewhat of an unknown entity, and fans have no idea what to expect from him. If he can be molded into a decent backup, it may be valuable for the Jets. Who knows if he will never reach that level, but there is value in just having him on the roster as a form of competition. Mike White, a 2018 Draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys, is the 3rd Quarterback on the roster. He played in preseason games during 2018 and 2019 seasons for the Cowboys, and they cut him shortly after the 2019 Preseason. His stats for those eight games are as follows: 80 completions on 138 attempts, 719 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions and two fumbles. These are pedestrian stats, but not terrible. Fans do not want to see either of these guys on the field, and it goes without saying that if they ever are, it is because Zach Wilson either got injured or played so poorly they decided to bench him. Obviously, this is the nightmare scenario.
Question 3: Any Free Agent QBs Available?
It was recently reported that the Jets were pushing to bring in Brian Hoyer, who ended up returning to the New England Patriots. Hoyer would have been a valuable pickup, but he has some familiarity with the New England area in general as a former Patriot. Other notable free agent Quarterbacks on the market include Nick Mullens and Robert Griffin III. Mullens played good football for the 49ers, and RG3 could teach Zach Wilson a thing or two about avoiding injuries. UDFAs should be avoided, as they don’t need any more inexperience. There likely isn’t another Quarterback out there that went undrafted that could bring any value to the team.
How Should Fans Feel?
The Jets have some room to be optimistic for this upcoming season with Zach Wilson, but they need to sign a good veteran backup. We saw with the Cincinnati Bengals how different they looked once Joe Burrow went down for the season. Ryan Finley filled in the starting spot, and their season spiraled out of control very quickly. On the other hand, we also saw what happened for the Eagles when Carson Wentz went down in 2018. Nick Foles came in and led them to the Super Bowl, a very different outcome. Hopefully, the Jets can be in a similar position soon.