NY Jets quarterback Zach Wilson will start this week in place of the injured Mike White — this we know already. Head coach Robert Saleh made the decision to promote Wilson to QB2 this week before revealing that White had not been cleared to play, thus putting Wilson back behind center.
Much has been made of the BYU product's performance this season, and he has largely been written off as a bust by most of the national media.
There is no disputing the numbers, Wilson has been bad across the board; he is averaging 6.8 yards per attempt with a completion percentage of 55.6%.
What makes matters worse is how much more functional the passing game looked with Mike White at the helm. In spite of all of this noise, Wilson is now being presented with a golden opportunity to seize back his job and the hearts of the Jet faithful.
The Detroit Lions present a great opportunity for Zach Wilson to get right
Much has been made of the Lions' recent hot streak, and Dan Campbell's squad has certainly shown that they are not to be taken lightly thanks to a bevy of key contributions on both sides of the football.
Players like Aidan Hutchinson, Penei Sewell, Jared Goff, Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Malcolm Rodriguez have all helped elevate Detroit out of the NFL's basement. That said, the Lions' defense is still very exploitable, especially in the secondary.
Jeff Okudah has taken a step forward in his third year, but he and the Lions' secondary should have a tough time containing Garrett Wilson and the Jets' weapons. Zach Wilson will need to show improvement in the area of his game that got him benched for this to matter: hitting the easy throws.
White excelled at playing in the pocket, going through his reads, and getting the ball out quickly and accurately to his playmakers. With a patchwork offensive line going up against an underrated Lions pass rush, Wilson will need to place an emphasis on getting the ball out of his hands.
The final piece in this equation is offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, who has opened up the passing game considerably since White has taken over the offense. For the Jets to have a chance on Sunday, LaFleur needs to let Wilson play loose and take advantage of the arm talent that got him drafted second overall.
This is certainly not a guarantee, as LaFleur was able to hide Wilson's inefficiencies early in the season thanks to the presence of Breece Hall and Alijah Vera-Tucker. That gameplan is not in the cards now, with those two injured among many others for the Jets.
This is not only a winnable game for gang green, it is a must-win game as well. Wilson doesn't need to throw for 300 yards, he just needs to show that he can contribute to wins and keep the offense on schedule.
If LaFleur opens up the playbook and Wilson is able to hit his layups in the passing game, the Jets should be able to score enough points to win considering how good their defense is.
It is even more imperative for Wilson to show what he can do, as he is not just playing for his job on Sunday, some would argue he is playing for his NFL career.