These Jets fans, they so badly have wanted you to be the answer. They so badly have wanted you to be their Patrick Mahomes, their Joe Namath.
And you have so badly wanted to make this your team and make those Jets fans proud, to be for this franchise and for this fan base what Sam Darnold could not be for them, what none of them who have followed Namath could be for them.
You will hear from those Jets fans on Sunday night at MetLife Stadium, and if recent history is any guide, what you will hear is the soul-piercing sound that the angry New York mob reserves for its most infuriating fall guys.
Better get some good earplugs, kid.
These Jets fans have every right to boo Zach Wilson, or anyone else, because they pay big bucks for their seats, and bigger bucks than usual for some once word spread that Taylor Swift will be there cheering on Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.
Of course, you signed up for this, you knew that the law of the land in professional sports prohibits you from cheating the passionate fans and toying with their emotional attachment to their beloved team.
Still, for anyone with any measure of compassion, this has the makings of a cringe-worthy event of the highest order.
It would be nice if at the start, these Jets fans who didn’t come to praise you but to bury you at least give you a chance to turn their gurgling jeers to cheers … at least before they get the chance to chant for Tim Boyle in case Robert Saleh is desperately seeking a spark.
You didn’t ask for this, of course. You were prepared to stand on the sideline and learn your craft from Aaron Rodgers. You didn’t ask for him to tear his 39-year-old Achilles four snaps into the season. You never should have been the Jets’ Flight 23 contingency plan in the event that Rodgers went down.
So now you find yourself walking as tall as you can into this perfect storm.
This is your third season. You looked nothing like the second-overall pick of the 2021 draft during your first two seasons. You have looked nothing like the second-overall pick since you replaced Rodgers on opening night. All those visions of all those off-platform throws that titillated the fan base when you arrived in the scene? Gone with the wind.
And this was supposed to be a season of Super Bowl expectations. “Hard Knocks” came knocking. Rodgers, who will be at the game Sunday, charging through the darkness of the MetLife Stadium tunnel carrying an American flag on 9/11 was a goosebump moment that lit the place. All aboard Flight 23.
That flight has been canceled.
And watching Mahomes make magic throwing to the apple of Taylor Swift’s eye would likely only add fuel to the ire.
Your head coach and general manager are standing by you, for now. Your teammates are saying the right things for public consumption, if only because the season is so young. If there is any night for them to have your back, and for you to have theirs, it is this night.
There is no better place to win than New York. And there is no worse place to lose than New York. There is no harder place to change an opinion. Especially when 82,500 mostly Jets fans show up with preconceived notions about you.
Which means that even your slightest faux pas will encourage the strident jackals to assail you. The boobirds will follow you into the huddle and over to the sideline and into the postgame tunnel if your game again lives down to even their lowered expectations. No one should want that for any man in the arena.
You didn’t throw an interception against the Patriots, and it didn’t matter in the court of public opinion. If you throw one against the Chiefs, the venom directed your way will be deafening.
But holding the ball and paying the consequences because you fear the consequences of throwing it is damning commentary on any quarterback. A quarterback who plays not to lose can never win converts and will always lose.
You have lost Broadway Joe. You have lost the town. So what do you have to lose at this point, other than your job?
Every team needs its quarterback to be a fighter. Your teammates need you to be a fighter. If this proves to be your last start and last stand at home-not-so-sweet-home, then do yourself a favor and go down fighting.
It seems that you’ve impressed your offensive teammates when you conduct your weekly Friday meeting. This is what C.J. Uzomah told me: “After every meeting, we’re looking at each other like, ‘F— yeah!’
Except for the past two Sundays when those Jets fans were screaming: “F— no!”
Put on your big-boy pants, kid.
Defending Super Bowl champs in the house. Taylor Swift in the house. Disenchanted Jets fans in the house.
It’s Zach against the world, unless and until you do something about it.
If you don’t, if you can’t, this promises to be the most turbulent night of your Jets life. And that’s saying something.
Fasten your seatbelt, kid.