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Zach Wilson: Jets QB to start against Jaguars on Thursday night in key clash for playoff spots | NFL News

Second-year quarterback Zach Wilson will start again for the New York Jets on Thursday night

Zach Wilson will once again be the starting quarterback for the New York Jets as they host the Jacksonville Jaguars in a close matchup on Thursday night – live on Sky Sports — with massive playoff implications.

Wilson, the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, endured a tough second season in New York and was benched for replacement Mike White before suffering a rib injury in the Week 14 loss to the Buffalo Bills, bringing Wilson back. training for Sunday’s 20-17 home loss to the Detroit Lions.

Wilson completed 18 of 35 passes in the contest, for 317 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw a costly interception in the third quarter and missed several seemingly easy completions.

Highlights from the Detroit Lions' clash with the New York Jets in NFL Week 15

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Highlights from the Detroit Lions’ clash with the New York Jets in NFL Week 15

Highlights from the Detroit Lions’ clash with the New York Jets in NFL Week 15

Jets head coach Robert Saleh, who switched to the Wilson bench mid-season, confirmed earlier this week that White remains injured, while blaming the “instant coffee world” for the demands placed on Wilson so early in his NFL career.

“The frustrating thing is this kid is going to be a good quarterback,” Saleh told reporters. “But the NFL and this new instant coffee world we find ourselves in just don’t want to give people time.

“So we look at it and it’s just combed through with a fine-toothed comb.”

Wilson’s bench came after a Week 11 loss to the New England Patriots in which the sophomore QB had his worst performance of the season, completing 9 of 22 passes for just 77 yards.

He was also criticized for his one-word “no” response to reporters when asked after the game if he thought he let the Jets’ defense down, although he has since apologized to his teammates for his actions.

Saleh said at the time of Wilson’s bench that it “isn’t a nail in the coffin” when it comes to his future with the team and that “Zach’s career here isn’t over.”

He doubled that this week, with the head coach adding: “Nobody is going to give up on someone just because they feel like they don’t show up in year one or year two.

“Zach is growing. He grows with this team, he grows with all of us.”

Baldinger: Wilson is way too frantic

Saleh also praised Wilson’s performance in the team’s last loss to the Lions on Sunday, saying the 23-year-old took “a big step” despite the patchy nature of his performance.

Wilson’s second TD throw of the game to tight end CJ Uzomah gave the Jets a 17-13 lead with less than five minutes left in the game, but they would find themselves on a 51-yard touchdown reception by Brock Wright on a fourth-and-a play in the final two minutes.

“I’m really excited for him because in his past when he hit a speed bump in a game, he kind of went off the rails,” Saleh said. “But I think he did a really good job of getting back on track and coming back in the fourth quarter to lead a touchdown.”

Former offensive lineman and NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger wasn’t convinced by what he saw from Wilson, however, recounting sky sports“I just feel like he’s way too frantic right now.

“He made a few splatter plays the other day – we’ll give him credit – and he’s got a big arm, but the reason they went with Mike White is he can make the pocket plays that you need to do. , he takes the ball out of his hands and kicks the ball with precision. He just can’t stay healthy right now or he’d be in there.

“Wilson has a chance, with a huge game against Jacksonville on Thursday night. This is a great opportunity to try to turn things around. They’ll probably have to win to qualify for the playoffs.”

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A third straight loss dropped the Jets to 7-7 this season and leaves them outside the AFC playoff picture with three games. The Miami Dolphins (8-6) currently claim the seventh seed and the last wild card spot in the conference.

Koyack: We’ve seen ‘generational’ Jags QB Lawrence ‘grow up’

But the Jaguars (6-8) are also in contention for a playoff berth – and still have a shot at winning the AFC South Division title – which makes Thursday night’s game all the more exciting. important for both teams.

The Jaguars have fought their way into the race by winning two straight and three of their last four, the last being a dramatic 40-34 overtime win over the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday.

Highlights from the Dallas Cowboys' clash with the Jacksonville Jaguars in NFL Week 15

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Highlights from the Dallas Cowboys’ clash with the Jacksonville Jaguars in NFL Week 15

Highlights from the Dallas Cowboys’ clash with the Jacksonville Jaguars in NFL Week 15

Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson hasn’t had a blast yet, however, telling reporters this week: “I don’t think about last Thursday, quite honestly. We have a good football team against which we will face.

“Everything is possible. I understand that. We still have a long way to go. But if we keep improving on what we did here in the last month of the season, then I think it’s possible.

Trevor Lawrence, who was picked with the first overall pick in the same draft as Wilson — a pick ahead of the Jets’ QB — has been a key part of the team’s recent success, throwing a career-high four touchdown passes. career, as well as 318 yards. (and an interception), against Dallas. Thirteen of his 24 touchdown passes this season have come in Jacksonville’s last five games.

NFL Network's Brian Baldinger breaks down the growth of Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence in his second NFL season

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NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger breaks down the growth of Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence in his second NFL season

NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger breaks down the growth of Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence in his second NFL season

Former Jaguars tight end Ben Koyack was impressed with what he saw. “Coming out of college, even high school, Lawrence was always touted as this generational talent,” he said. sky sports.

“Last year people started to question that. But this year, we have seen it grow. Over these last few games, we’ve seen players, his supporting cast, step up and really support him.

“It makes it a lot easier as a quarterback to go out there and do your job – and do it with confidence.”

Lawrence now has the chance to get one over fellow 2021 draft alumnus Wilson on Thursday night in the second meeting between the top two overall picks.

It was Wilson who came out on top in their first meeting on Boxing Day last season as the Jets hung on for a 26-21 victory.

Watch Jacksonville Jaguars @ New York Jets on Thursday Night Football, live on Sky Sports NFL from 1:15 a.m. early Friday morning.

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