Wilson imploded with three interceptions in a 22-17 loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, making his 4-0 start seem like old news. Afterward, he bristled when a reporter asked if he shoulders the loss.
“No, but I need to play better,” he said curtly.
For the remainder of his postgame news conference, Wilson responded with mostly clipped answers. He seemed either angry with the line of questioning or his own performance — or both.
The 2021 second-overall pick heard boos late in the game as the Jets (5-3) lost for the 13th straight time to the Patriots. It was a repeat of last season’s home loss to the Patriots, when he threw four interceptions in a loss.
“He has to play better, and we have to find ways to help him,” coach Robert Saleh said.
The Jets had won four straight with Wilson, who missed the first three games because of preseason knee surgery, but it was mostly because of defense and the Breece Hall-led running game. Wilson had only one touchdown pass in those four games.
Wilson’s shortcomings were magnified against the Patriots. Without Hall, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last week, the Jets leaned on the passing game. Wilson threw for a career-high 355 yards and two touchdowns — the first 300-yard game of his career — but his three turnovers were too much to overcome.
His first interception was an overthrow on a short pass. His second came on a play in which he actually tried to throw the ball out of bounds. With linebacker Matthew Judon bearing down on him, Wilson, flushed from the pocket, threw it too far inside and hit safety Devin McCourty along the sideline. The third was a deep overthrow, picked off by McCourty — a pass Wilson admittedly forced.
Wilson had no turnovers in the previous three games. Pressured a season-high 16 times by the Patriots, according to ESPN Stats & Information research, he sounded exasperated that he was on the run so much. It sounded liked veiled criticism of his pass protection.
“Every time I get out of the pocket, it just gets frustrating to throw the ball away,” said Wilson, who completed only 20 of 41 passes. “That’s what I’ve done the last four weeks to put us in a good position to not the turn ball over and for us to win. So, I need to keep doing that when something is not here. It gets old, getting out and not seeing anything there …”
Twelve of Wilson’s 20 completions went to two players, wide receiver Garrett Wilson (six for 119 yards) and tight end Tyler Conklin (six for 79, two TDs). Wide receiver Elijah Moore, deactivated last week after requesting a trade, played only 10 snaps and had no catches (one target).
Moore’s production started to decline when Wilson replaced Joe Flacco in Week 4. Eventually, his lack of involvement prompted the trade request. Asked to describe his chemistry with Wilson, Moore said plenty with a short answer.
“I couldn’t tell you,” he said. “I don’t get the ball, I don’t know.”
Saleh was careful not to criticize Wilson, but he seemed frustrated by the second-year quarterback’s tendency to get careless with the ball when under pressure.
“The line of scrimmage goes all way around the globe in those situations,” Saleh said. “You can throw in the stands if you want to. We’ll figure it out. We’ll help him out. We have to figure out a way to get that fixed.
“We just have to rally around him. Coaches, we have to figure out how to make it not necessarily simpler, but just help him continue to progress and evolve. He’s still a young man. Playing quarterback in this league is not easy.”