Wait, the Zach Wilson story isn’t winding to a close as everyone seemed to believe the last couple of weeks. Cancel the funeral. Cancel the signing of journeymen backup quarterbacks and the search for a replacement. Cancel the calls for his outster by Joe Namath and Rodney Harrison and dozens of talk-show hosts and journos. This story has caught a second wind, or, at the very least, Wilson has been granted a reprieve.

“Zach, you’re out there. I hope you win, I hope you grow into the player no one thinks you can grow into. There are a lot of people hating on you, brother … I get we all love the game of football, but we have to remember Zach is a human being.” — Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons

Yes, The Kid lost another start, but he also won. He won because he produced the best performance of his young pro career. He won because no one was calling for his head this time. He won because he did it when everyone, including the Jets, were getting ready to move on from him. He won because he took the blame for the team’s loss, something he ran away from a year ago. He won because, despite all the harsh criticism, this 24-year-old stepped onto the field and performed under intense pressure in front of Sunday night’s national TV audience and nearly beat the Super Bowl champion Chiefs with his arm and legs.

For a moment it was like he was back at BYU or Corner Canyon High or the Jordan youth league, and suddenly some aficionados of the sport are rallying to his defense. When retired safety-turned-sports analyst Rodney Harrison called Wilson “garbage”on the air, Micah Parsons, the Cowboys superstar linebacker, responded by saying, “That’s just not right.” Then he directed some on-air love to Wilson.

“Zach, you’re out there,” Parsons said. “I hope you win, I hope you grow into the player no one thinks you can grow into. There are a lot of people hating on you, brother … I get we all love the game of football, but we have to remember Zach is a human being. ... We don’t use our platform to degrade other players. We use our platform to uplift people. Everyone in this world just needs someone to believe in them, and I’m big on that.”

This came a week after Aaron Rodgers, the injured Jets quarterback, defended Wilson when Namath called for his old team to bench Wilson. “When we’re not having success, how do we respond?” said Rodgers. “And that goes to our fan base and former players as well. You’re not helping the cause.”

Since Rodgers went down with an injury four plays into the season, Wilson has struggled mightily in his old starting role, just as he has the last two years. The Jets lost their second and third games and Wilson was back on the hot seat, which is where he was last season when he lost the starting job twice and didn’t even make the active roster for a couple of games. It seemed like everyone wanted him out. The Jets are a talented team, with a superb defense and talented young receivers and running backs. If only they had a quarterback, the reasoning ran.

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USA Today regurgitated what ESPN reporter Rich Cimini said on his podcast — that if Jets coach Robert Saleh continued to support Wilson he would lose the locker room and that the situation was about to “implode.” Despite public support for their quarterback, the Jets signed veteran journeyman Trevor Siemian.

Then in one game Wilson looked like the player the Jets thought he was when they made him the second overall pick in the 2021 draft. He completed 28 of 39 passes for 245 yards, two touchdowns and 0 — ZERO — interceptions. He completely outplayed the game’s other quarterback — two-time league MVP Patrick Mahomes. The Jets were down by only three points with a little less than eight minutes to go — and then Wilson fumbled and the Chiefs recovered and that was that.

Afterward, Wilson showed a new, more mature side when he was seen on the sidelines telling a teammate, “I lost the game. It’s my fault, bro.” He said it again in the postgame press conference. Only a year ago, he was asked if he had let his teammates down following a dreadful performance, and he famously said no, which didn’t endear him to anyone.

The fumble was bad timing, but Wilson also is the reason the Jets had a chance to win the game.

“I haven’t had a chance to talk to him yet,” said Saleh immediately after the game, “but I’m sure he’s beating himself up over a play or two here or there, but he shouldn’t. There’s nothing that he should be ashamed of.”

Saleh is the one man who has had Wilson’s back from the start, and he seemed relieved that Wilson had rewarded his patience against the Chiefs. “He was letting it rip,” he said. “… I’m happy for him to go out and show that he does belong, that he can play in this league. If he plays that way we’re going to win a lot of football games.”

He continued, “Playing quarterback in this league is hard.”

That much has been born out by Wilson’s 2021 draft class, when five quarterbacks were taken with the first 15 picks. Trevor Lawrence is the best of them so far, but he still ranks only 13th among NFL passers this season and the Jaguars are 2-2.

Just three years after trading three first-round draft picks to select Trey Lance with the third overall pick of the draft, the 49ers traded him to the Cowboys in August. He’s played in just eight games, none this season. Justin Fields is struggling so badly that some experts wondered if the winless Bears should bench him. He’s a terrible passer and opponents have taken away his running game — his one big asset — which is what eventually happens to quarterbacks who can’t pass (Colin Kaepernick, for example).

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Mac Jones ranks 24th among the league’s passers and has won only one of his four starts. Which is still better than Wilson, who is ranked 31st and averaging a paltry 5.8 yards per attempt.

Wilson started with the deck stacked against him. The Jets’ reputation for mishandling quarterbacks is well known. Wilson was the 12th quarterback the Jets drafted in 16 years, including a second-rounder in 2016 and a first-rounder in 2018. They’ve had a dozen starting quarterbacks in 30 years, and they haven’t had a winning season in 13 years.

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Teams are easily dazzled with 40 times and strong arms in drills against air, and sometimes their draft decisions are just plain silly. The 49ers went all-in on Lance even though he had not only played at the FCS level for North Dakota State, but played only 17 games.

The selection of Wilson also seemed risky considering his body of work. He actually regressed as a sophomore and was fighting for the starting job with Jaren Hall entering his junior (and final) season.

He played well, but because of the pandemic-forced cancellations, the schedule was rebuilt with weak fill-ins such as Navy, Troy, Louisiana Tech, Texas-San Antonio, Western Kentucky and North Alabama. But the Jets went all-in on Wilson anyway. To complicate matters, he was thrown into the lineup on Day 1 and never had the luxury of an apprenticeship a la Jordan Love and Rodgers.

Whether he becomes the latest Jets quarterback to be cast aside remains to be seen, but last weekend he gave reason for hope. Next up: The Broncos.

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson walks off the field after playing against the Kansas City Chiefs in East Rutherford, N.J. | Adam Hunger, Associated Press
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