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'What the F---?': Report Says Mike LaFleur Wanted Zach Wilson Over Trevor Lawrence, Which Barely Scratches the Surface of the Jets' Dysfunction

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There are professional endeavors that go through the normal swings of the business cycle. Good days and bad. Quarters of profit and loss. Boom periods and bust. But when part of what how you earn a living is taking perverse joy in the chaos that is the New York Jets, business is always good. 

The latest bull market for investors in the Jets dysfunction comes courtesy of ESPN's Rich Cimini. And centers around their latest egregious organization-wide fuck up, the rapid demise of Zach Wilson. That would be the QB they took No. 2 overall not two drafts ago, and already compares unfavorably with the biggest bust in NFL history:

Which, as the article points out, is why Woody Johnson is openly talking about spending whatever it takes to land Aaron Rodgers. Here are just a few of the highlights of what is a really long, detailed piece: 

 Zach Wilson hit bottom for the first time on Nov. 23, when he was removed from his job as the New York Jets' starting quarterback. The benching, once unthinkable, came after a poor performance against the New England Patriots. Truth is, it had been rumbling beneath the surface for several weeks.

Alarmingly sloppy practices and head-scratching interceptions in games, combined with behind-the-scenes grumbling by players -- particularly the wide receivers -- opened the organization's eyes to the possibility that Wilson isn't the player the Jets envisioned when they drafted him second overall in 2021. …

Interviews with players, staffers and outside quarterback experts paint the picture of a physically gifted player who has struggled to execute basic quarterback fundamentals and whose teammates lost faith in him weeks before his benching. …

Some talent evaluators within the organization didn't see Wilson as worthy of being the No. 2 pick. … Assistant GM Rex Hogan and then-offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur were the driving forces behind the decision to pick him second, they said.

"[LaFleur], along with Rex Hogan, were in 2021 draft meetings selling the narrative that there was a legit argument Wilson was better than [No. 1 overall pick] Trevor Lawrence," one source said. "[Some of us], we're like, 'What the f---?!' It's one thing to like a player; it's another to pump a prospect up higher than he actually is." …

Out of 47 quarterbacks with at least 200 attempts, Wilson finished 37th in Total QBR, 47th in completion percentage, 40th in touchdown/interception ratio and 46th in QBR when throwing under pressure, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. …

Unlike the other four quarterbacks drafted in the first round that year (Lawrence, Trey Lance at No. 3, Fields at No. 11 and Mac Jones at No. 15), Wilson didn't have to compete for the starting job against a veteran. The Jets made the conscious decision to roll with Wilson, as they were willing to absorb his growing pains in a transition year for the roster.

In retrospect, that was a mistake, LaFleur said Jan. 5 -- his final interview before being replaced. …

[In 2022 the] Jets continued to win, but Wilson sputtered. One player recalled him completing only three balls in a practice before the Oct. 23 game against the Denver Broncos. For context, there are 20 to 30 pass attempts in a typical midweek practice. … 

A lazy interception near halftime in the Oct. 30 loss to the Patriots -- the second of three picks that day -- was the blunder that sent shivers through the organization. It was a careless overthrow on a short pass, off his back foot, the kind of play that would infuriate a middle-school coach.

Wilson's accuracy was so bad (9-of-22, 77 yards) that he missed wildly on high-percentage throws, prompting one staff member to compare it to former baseball player Steve Sax and his yips from the early 1980s. Wilson exacerbated matters with his now-infamous postgame news conference, the one in which he declined to accept responsibility for the dreadful offensive performance.

"The defense wants to kick his ass," one player said at the time. …

Wilson's reputation, already battered, absorbed more blows when teammates expressed their affinity for White. Not only did they speak glowingly about him, but a few traveled on a road trip wearing Mike White T-shirts. A photo -- posted by the Jets, oddly enough -- went viral.

The benching and the fallout shined a light on Wilson's leadership. Privately, team officials acknowledged that he fell short in that area at times, especially when dealing with the media. Leadership came up in their pre-draft discussions -- Wilson wasn't initially voted a captain at BYU, which raised questions -- but they determined it was nothing he couldn't overcome.

Yeah, apparently not. 

So to review: People in the Jets organization, including the offensive coordinator, thought Zach Wilson was better than Trevor Lawrence, whom the rest of America's draft punditry class unanimously declared a generational talent. Perhaps the best QB prospect to come out of college since Andrew Luck, if not Peyton Manning. And in two seasons and 22 starts, he managed to put together some of the worst practices anyone had ever seen, look worse in the games than he had in practices, alienate his entire roster to the point they went into open revolt:

… get said coordinator fired, and make it so ownership and his teammates think nothing of recruiting a 39-year-old to replace him. Some draft picks take four or five years to fail this utterly. Even the worst usually make it to the end of their rookie deals before proving everyone who had faith in them wrong. Wilson has done it in less than two dozen career games. 

In other words, the Jets are getting better and more efficient when it comes to turning promising talent into total busts. And I find myself saying yet again, if the New York Jets didn't exist, we would've had to invent them. Long live the GD Jets.