While the Jacksonville Jaguars stayed home with a Week 11 bye on Sunday, it didn't mean they were able to escape from one of the biggest national narratives of the day: the struggles of New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson.
Jacksonville improbably ended up with the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, just one spot ahead of the Jets who were winless until two upset wins over the Los Angeles Rams and Cleveland Browns in Weeks 15 and 16. Thanks to two meaningless wins under Adam Gase and a lucky first down from Frank Gore, the Jaguars ended up with the No. 1 pick, and the Jets with the No. 2.
Two years later, the fates of each team's quarterback position has begun to spiral in different directions. Even though the Jaguars are sitting at 3-7, a whole three games behind the Jets' 6-4 record and potential playoff berth, the trajectory of the most important players on each team is heading in two different directions.
The Jaguars are losing far too often but have finally begun to see Trevor Lawrence turn a corner and become more consistent. He isn't setting the world on fire or playing like an MVP, but he is not only improving, but he has already proven he belongs.
Then there are the Jets, who would have surely taken Lawrence at No. 1 if they had not won two games they had no business winning. Instead they took BYU quarterback Zach Wilson, an unconventional but exciting college talent who thrived in the COVID-impacted 2020 season.
After having one of the worst starts of any quarterback in 2022 against the New England Patriots just a few weeks ago, Wilson was somehow even worse in Week 11 in a 10-3 loss. Not only did he manage just 77 yards on 22 attempts, but he ducked accountability after the game, reportedly drawing the ire of teammates as a result.
It isn't hard to envision a scenario where the Jaguars swapped places with the Jets. Where Gore never gets the first down. A reality Lawrence ends up a Jet, and the Jaguars are forced to choose between Wilson, Justin Fields, Mac Jones, and Trey Lance
Knowing the Jaguars history of drafting and developing quarterbacks -- as well as their history of being right when being forced to make a non-consensus decision in the draft -- it is hard to imagine the Jaguars wouldn't be in a doomsday scenario today were it not for the Jets two years ago. Wilson struggling on a bad Jaguars team or Fields failing to be given the structure he needs to thrive can be seen clear as day.
Lawrence was the only passer who could ultimately save the Jaguars from themselves. So far the wins haven't followed, but Lawrence looks like the only quarterback in the 2021 draft class who is situation-proof.
Wilson, clearly, is not. And because of a win against the Rams two years ago, the Jets will have the pay the consequences for that.
The Jaguars aren't where they need to be yet. Neither is Lawrence. But there have never been questions inside of TIAA Bank Field about Lawrence like there has been about the other members of his draft class, Wilson especially.