At the top, let’s start with this: You are entitled to act any way you want on Sunday, at least within reasonable boundaries of good taste and good behavior. You have paid for your ticket. Some of you will have crossed a couple of bridges and paid a ransom of tolls just to reach MetLife Stadium.
Most of you will spend a good six or seven hours, maybe more — counting pregame tailgate and postgame cornhole — outside on a day when the mercury may sneak into the mid-30s, but no higher. You do this happily, because a meaningful game on December the 18th is all you would have asked for back in the dog days of August.
Both Santa — and Saleh — have been good to you, but you have been good to the Jets, too. You’ve put in your time. You’ve waited for a day like this, a game with the Lions with playoff ramifications, with real table stakes. You’ve endured a blurry rush of lousy football and empty seasons. This is your day. You will lose your voice one way or another, either the easy way (cheering yourself hoarse) or the hard way (booing your way to laryngitis).
OK. So we’re clear. This is your decision, 100 percent.
So here’s a nugget of unsolicited advice — as the best former occupant of this space, Jimmy Cannon, always typed: “Nobody asked me but …”
Well. Nobodydy asked me but…
Show the kid some patience.
We all know who we’re talking about here, and we all know that the 80,000-pound green elephant inside MetLife Stadium is that hardly anyone outside of Zach Wilson and his immediate family are excited about him getting the starting assignment — by default — in this must-win game against Detroit. Not you, not the 70,000 or so others who’ll be joining you in warding off the frosty conditions.
Not a lot of the folks who’ll be sharing the huddle with him.
That’s just a fact. The Jets can spin this any way they like, but not even the most ardent Wilson supporters inside 1 Jets Drive in Florham Park can deny that Mike White captured the hearts and minds and imaginations of most precincts of Jets Nation, inside the locker room and beyond . Wilson took a golden opportunity and spilled turpentine on it the first time — both on the field (with a galling lack of production) and in the dressing room (with an appalling lack of accountability).
Now the kid gets a mulligan because Mike White’s ribs — and almost a dozen doctors — agree he can’t play football Sunday. So the huddle belongs to Wilson again.
Better or worse.
“The worst has already happened, right? For me, personally,” Wilson said Friday. “I’m going to just have fun and whatever happens, happens. I’m going to do whatever is best for the team, and that’s out of my control if they make that change down the road.”
Well, in truth, the worst could still be in front of him. He could scuffle his first few drives Sunday afternoon. The Lions could certainly take an early lead, the way the Bears took an early lead on the Jets the last time they played at MetLife, in White’s first start.
And it could get bad then, very bad.
It could get ugly then. Very ugly.
(It also happens to be the rare New York football game where EVERYONE is rooting for the Jets; a Lions loss would be very helpful to the Giants, too.)
That’s up to you, honestly. You can react to an early pick, or an early underthrow, or an early fumble, and you can do what you have every right to do: Boo a boo that begins in your toenails and grows with force as it rises through your intestines and lungs and throat, and spills out into the icy East Rutherford air. Again, that’s your call.
But maybe this once: Think before you boo.
Maybe, this once: Hold off on the anger. Postpone the fury. Let this play out. The truth is Zach Wilson is 5-2 as a starter this year. Maybe he hasn’t given you reason to believe he is the foundation. But 5-2 is 5-2. If it’s 10-0 Lions early, see what’ll happen if you give him a chance to find himself.
If it’s 30-3 late… well, then, by all means, let him have it.
But maybe just this once: Give the kid a break. Give him a minute. Keep the boos holstered in the back of your throat. You’ll be able to summon them, if necessary.
And who knows?
Maybe — just maybe — you won’t need them at all.