It's been an arduous week for New York Jets quarterbacks.
Zach Wilson took over the starting reins for Gang Green, who lost Aaron Rodgers for the season in Week 1, on Sunday and threw three interceptions while getting sacked thrice in a 30-10 defeat to the host Dallas Cowboys.
Still, Wilson and his head coach found positives in his performance, which was hardly the only factor in the Jets' lopsided loss.
"Yeah, absolutely man," Wilson said Sunday when asked if he felt better suited to be the starter than he was in his previous two seasons. "I feel like I'm seeing it well, I really do. And it's really unfortunate to show that as an offense, because we've got to be better, I need to be better. But we're right there, and so we're going to go back, and it's a long season, we're going to go watch this film and see how we can improve. Everyone trusts and believes in each other, and we all love each other, so we're excited for the challenge."
Wilson finished 12 of 27 for 170 yards, a touchdown, the three picks, a 38.1 QB rating and had a team-high 36 rushing yards on five attempts. He had his moments, most notably a beautiful hook-up with Garrett Wilson for a 68-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Unfortunately, it was the first and last TD of the afternoon for a Jets offense swarmed by a stellar Cowboys defense.
"Up until we had to force it, I thought he did a really nice job," said head coach Robert Saleh, referencing the Jets having an uphill climb much of the game. "He had the strike route to Garrett for that big touchdown, I thought he did a really nice job at the end of the half moving the chains, getting us some points. It's just like I said, that team, when you have to get into a dropback game with those guys consistently, it's not going to be pretty."
Saleh has stood tall in declaring that the Jets would stick with Wilson since Rodgers went down for the season with a torn Achilles.
On Sunday, Saleh was firm in his belief that his quarterback wasn't put in the best situation to succeed.
"I don't know if we gave (the offense) much of a chance," the third-year Jets coach said. "Defensively, we just couldn't get off the field on third down today, had our opportunities. Give them credit, they were efficient, they were ahead of the chains and when we did catch them in third-and-long situations they were still able to capitalize.
"We just didn't give ourselves a chance defensively, to get off the field, to give our offense a chance to get any kind of rhythm going."
Heavy is the head that wears the QB1 helmet, but for all the scrutiny likely to come Wilson's way, the Jets were vanquished by a top-notch foe that prevailed in all areas.
Wilson's 36 yards rushing were eight more than the rest of the team, which saw four players combine for 11 carries and 28 yards. It was a major factor in the Jets' dismal 1-of-10 showing on third down.
"Not good, not good, and I want to say the biggest was probably just not being in third and manageable," Wilson said of the third-down inefficiency. "Just not putting us in a good position, me not putting us in a good position to play for third-and-short, because I think that's where you've got to be in this league to be successful, to keep drives alive, and score. I think those guys did a good job of converting, and you saw what it did to our defense. You get tired when you're on the field that long, and we can't go three-and-out, we can't do that to them, and we've got to give them a break and sustain drives."
Defensively, the Jets faced 83 plays, gave up nine third-down conversions and simply struggled getting off the field.
Ahead of the season, it was clear that the Jets would face a gauntlet out of the gates with matchups against 2022 playoff squads in the Bills, Cowboys and Kansas City Chiefs over the first four weeks. In Week 3, New York faces a New England Patriots team that didn't make the postseason a year ago. However, the Jets have lost 14 in a row to the Patriots, including a disastrous Week 11 showing a season ago that led to Wilson's benching.
New York is 1-1 and as Saleh is adamant that the Jets are rolling with Wilson, he likewise underscored Sunday that they can't allow things to get rolling in the wrong direction.
"It won't snowball," Saleh said. "It's not going to snowball."