Joe Namath blasts Zach Wilson as Jets reaffirm faith in QB


FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Embattled New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson received a strong vote of confidence Monday from coach Robert Saleh — and scathing criticism from the most famous quarterback in franchise history.

Hall of Famer Joe Namath, echoing the sentiment of an angry fan base, blasted Wilson in a radio interview, while also taking aim at Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas.

“I didn’t take anything positive out of it. It was awful,” Namath told “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN New York radio, referring to Wilson’s performance Sunday.

Namath was irked by Wilson’s first sack in Sunday’s 15-10 loss to the Patriots, when he went down without being touched.

“You sit down? You sit down on a play? You go right down? What happened?” Namath said, incredulously. “I thought you’re trying to win and make plays. You quit on a play? What is going on? It’s disgusting.”

The Hall of Famer said he’d trade Wilson: “I wouldn’t keep him. I’ve seen enough of Zach Wilson.”

Namath also suggested that Saleh and Douglas should be replaced, saying, “These guys aren’t picking the right players. They aren’t doing a good job of coaching. It’s evident. I mean, you’ve got to look and see. If you have an eye for football at all you see things are haywire. It’s too crazy. They need to fix it and that’s getting rid of a lot of people and bringing new ones in.”

Continuing his rant, Namath added: “They need to make major changes, from top to bottom.” The legendary quarterback, who led the Jets to their only Super Bowl victory in 1969, is generally upbeat about the team. This, he said, is his lowest point as a fan of the team.

Saleh, despite overwhelming statistical evidence to the contrary, continued his unwavering support of Wilson, calling him a “much improved” player and the Jets’ “unquestioned quarterback.”

The fan base is clamoring for another quarterback, but the Jets have given no indication that something is in the works. It sounds like they’re going to stick with Wilson and journeyman Tim Boyle — for now.

Wilson, who has lost both starts since replacing the injured Aaron Rodgers in Week 1, will start Sunday night against the Kansas City Chiefs at MetLife Stadium.

“You just don’t throw people away, man,” Saleh said of Wilson, whom he benched twice last season. Saleh also said, “He’s not the reason why we lost [Sunday].”

Wilson, the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2021, heard boos throughout Sunday’s loss, as the Jets managed only three points and 61 total yards in their first nine possessions. He finished 18-for-36 for 157 yards, with three sacks (including a safety). The only positive was that he didn’t commit any turnovers.

Saleh, whose career record dropped to 12-25, is being criticized for his unabashed loyalty to Wilson, who has a league-low 34.5 QBR from 2021 to 2023. The Jets decided, before trading for Rodgers in April, that Wilson would remain as their QB2. That decision appears to be hurting them.

“I know it’s going to go on deaf ears and whatever, but what we see on a day-in and day-out basis is a young man who is much improved from a year ago,” Saleh said. “He’s much more confident, he’s much more accurate, he’s got much more command of the huddle. He looks better in the pocket.

“[It] could have been better [Sunday], but he’s improved and he’s getting better and he’s going through his progressions, and when he is hitting his back foot with his timing and rhythm, I mean, he looks fantastic.”

It’s a small sample size for this season, but Wilson’s completion percentage (52.4) and QBR (27.0) are career lows. Saleh said statistics can be misleading, adding that Wilson will continue to start as long as he “continues to show improvement.”

The Jets (1-2) built their offense around Rodgers, who went down on the fourth play of the season with a torn Achilles. In a heartbeat, they went from a four-time MVP to a young quarterback with only eight career wins as a starter.

“It’s not an excuse, but the reality is, it was built a certain way and now we’re trying to adjust on the fly, which is a challenge,” Saleh said. “But [it’s] a challenge that I think we’re going to end up coming up with an answer for.”

Saleh risks losing the locker room by riding with Wilson. The frustration was apparent on Sunday, as wide receiver Garrett Wilson and running back Michael Carter barked at coaches during the game. The players made available to the media on Monday — linebacker C.J. Mosley, cornerback D.J. Reed and wide receiver Randall Cobb — insisted there would be no fracturing.

“The record doesn’t work in his favor, but I know what kind of work he puts in, on and off the field, and you just got to stay the course,” Mosley said of Wilson. “He’s won games and that says a lot. When he’s on time and on target, he’s making some of the prettiest throws in the league. He’s been getting mentored by great people this offseason and even through this season.

“So, we’re just going to stay the course. We’re not panicking, we’re not doing any of that finger-pointing, none of that stuff.”

Source : ESPN