FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson is out indefinitely after injuring his right knee Sunday in one of the worst losses in franchise history — 54-13 to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
The defeat was so bad that mild-mannered coach Robert Saleh used profanity in his postgame news conference and called the loss “embarrassing.” But the immediate concern was the team’s franchise quarterback.
Wilson hurt the posterior cruciate ligament of his right knee on a second-quarter hit by linebacker Matt Judon. The Jets are hopeful that it’s not a season-ending injury, a source said, but they won’t know for sure until an MRI exam on Monday morning.
The No. 2 overall pick said his knee got “twisted” and he “felt a pop.” If it’s a mild PCL sprain, Wilson could return in three to four weeks. Saleh didn’t seem alarmed, saying, “Initially, we feel good, but you never know.”
A PCL injury is “the best-case scenario,” Wilson said. “I’m not really sure. I don’t know a lot about the PCL. … The pain really isn’t there. It’s just feeling like something is a little off as far as being loose and unstable.”
The Jets (1-5) already were down 17-0 when the injury occurred in the second quarter. Wilson, who got hit after releasing a long pass that was ruled defensive pass interference, said he had no issue with Judon’s play.
Judon tweeted Sunday evening that he would be praying for Wilson.
You hate to see injuries. Especially if you’re apart of them. I’ll be praying for you @ZachWilson. ✊🏾✊🏾
— Matthew Judon (@man_dammn) October 24, 2021
For the Jets, the day got progressively worse. It was their most lopsided defeat since a 45-3 loss to the Patriots in 2010. The last time they allowed this many points in a game was a 56-3 loss to the Patriots in 1979.
“This is the NFL. You give up 50 points, it’s embarrassing,” Saleh said. “[It’s] a helpless feeling where you’re just watching, you’re trying to figure something out.”
The usually upbeat Saleh was downcast after the game, even angry, cursing twice in his postgame news conference. Coming off the bye week, he was confident he had made the necessary changes to spark his slow-starting offense.
That didn’t happen. Everything collapsed, namely the defense, which allowed 551 yards and surrendered scores on nine of 10 drives (not including kneel downs at the end).
“Top down. Starts with coaching all the way down,” Saleh said. “Obviously we’ve got to be better. They punched us in the freaking mouth and scored points, so credit to them. That’s it. I mean, I’ve been in part of some of those in my life. They just don’t feel good.”
The Jets failed to score in the first quarter for the sixth straight game, the first team to do that since the 2008 Detroit Lions, who finished 0-16. The Jets have been outscored 44-0 in the opening quarter and 106-20 in the first half of games this season.
“We talk about adversity … it’s here,” said Saleh, who is coaching the youngest roster in the league. “This is from coaches all the way down. The NFL doesn’t really give a flying f—, excuse my language, in terms of scheduling. We got to line up the next week and for the 11 or 12, whatever we got left. I know we got the right men in that locker room. I know we got the right people in that locker room. I know we’ll come back strong. But we got to get it going.”
Wilson was replaced by Mike White, who made his NFL debut. His first pass was a 3-yard touchdown to Corey Davis, which made it 17-7, but things quickly spiraled for the Jets. They had no answer for rookie quarterback Mac Jones, who passed for 307 yards and two touchdowns.
The Jets, playing without middle linebacker C.J. Mosley (hamstring), fell for different misdirection and gadget plays, including a wide-receiver pass for a touchdown on the fourth play of the game — Kendrick Bourne’s 25-yard throw to fellow receiver Nelson Agholor.
The Patriots were still throwing late, seemingly trying to run up the score on their longtime rivals. Asked about his thoughts at the time, defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins said, “Probably some things I’m not going to say. … But it’s our job stop it.”
Saleh refused to buy into the theory that his team needs to chewed out. He said “grown men” don’t need to be yelled at.
“If you need somebody — it’s just my opinion — to be in your butt, yelling at you to get going playing a child’s game at a king’s ransom, then you don’t deserve to wear the logo, period,” he said. “I know we got great character guys. I know they were playing their butts off. Every once in a while you get your f—ing — excuse my language — you get your teeth knocked in. Sorry.”