If the NFL playoffs started today, the New York Jets would be on the outside looking in, currently in possession of the AFC’s ninth seed. They are just one game out of a playoff spot and that makes every game for the remainder of the season a must-win. The Jets have to put their best foot forward and 2022 has shown that their best foot is with Mike White under center, not former No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson.
White will not be able to play Thursday, meaning the season will likely hinge on Wilson’s arm, the same arm that has completed less than 55 percent of its passes and has thrown as many interceptions as it has touchdowns. I mean, for goodness sake, Wilson has just one game through eight starts in 2022 with a passer rating over 100. That’s as many as Mike White has in three games started.
I’m not saying Mike White is the solution. I’m only saying that Zach Wilson isn’t either. That said, the Jacksonville Jaguars have found their solution in Trevor Lawrence. After a slow start to his career — thanks mostly to the incompetence of Urban Meyer — Lawrence has mighty morphed, Power Ranger-style into the generational QB talent that most people expected him to. Since Week 9 of this season, Lawrence is first in the NFL in passer rating (111.2), completion percentage (70.4), and second in passing touchdowns (14), all while throwing only one interception.
The Jaguars are 4-2 in that span, and have put themselves in the thick of the AFC playoff picture — just a game behind the AFC South-leading Tennessee Titans. Plus, Jacksonville holds the tiebreaker.
Yes, it seems the Jags found their man of the future, but he should’ve been a Jet. If Jets fans haven’t repressed these memories already, they probably remember starting the 2020 season with an 0-13 record. The “Tank for Trevor” mantra was in full effect, and as long as crazy-eyed Adam Gase didn’t magically turn the Jets around in the final three weeks of the season, the greatest quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck would head to MetLife.
Gase couldn’t even tank right though. His Jets won two of their final three games against the 10-6 Los Angeles Rams and 11-5 Cleveland Browns. This was the same team that lost by 37 to the Seattle Seahawks the week before. Yet, all of a sudden, the Jets turned on their jets...and blazed to the end of the regular season playing their best ball of 2020. The Jaguars, meanwhile, lost 15 straight after winning their first game of the season against the Indianapolis Colts. That’s the proper way to tank.
If Gase had done his job and lost just one more game, the Jets wouldn’t have Zach Wilson right now. They would’ve had the first overall pick, which they would’ve undoubtedly used on Lawrence. I’m not sure if the Jaguars would’ve taken Wilson with the second pick, but the nightmare that is Jets fans wondering if Wilson’s potential will ever be unlocked wouldn’t have even started.
The visions of what could’ve been will be apparent on Thursday. Wilson is not close to Lawrence’s level currently, and I doubt he ever will be, at least at his current pace. Adam Gase prevented the Jets from finding their long-lost answer at quarterback. They were forced to settle for Wilson, and look where that got them...stuck in QB purgatory yet again.
Can the Jets win on Thursday? Absolutely, but don’t be shocked when Lawrence outshines Wilson tenfold. That said, Wilson’s record is 5-3, and the Jets are averaging 20.5 points per game with him as their starter, a step up from their season average of 20.1. There are some positive signs, but not nearly enough to forgive Gase for what he did. Not even close.