FLORHAM PARK, NJ — New York Jets coach Robert Saleh is hesitant about committing to Zach Wilson, who is setting up a possible quarterback substitution this week.
Three weeks after saying Wilson would be the starter for the rest of the season barring an injury, Saleh was noncommittal on Monday about whether the second overall pick of 2021 will start Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
This was the organization’s first doubt about Wilson’s status as the No. 1 quarterback.
“We’ll keep everything on the table for the next few days,” Saleh said.
Asked if he’s willing to name Wilson as this week’s starter, he said, “Not now, not until I’m done evaluating everything.”
Wilson was informed of his status by the coaches, essentially keeping him in the dark.
Mike White is next on the depth chart, followed by Joe Flacco, who started the first three games as Wilson recovered from a preseason knee injury. Saleh did not rule out either quarterback as a possible replacement.
Wilson is 5-2 as a starter, but he has played poorly in two of the past three games – both losses to the New England Patriots. He completed just 9 of 22 passes for a career-low 77 yards in Sunday’s 10-3 loss. Afterwards, he showed little responsibility with remarks that went viral. Asked if he let down the defense, Wilson simply replied, “No. No.”
Some defensive players were upset by the comments, sources said.
Clearly, Saleh was not happy with the way Wilson handled his post-match press conference.
‘Is it a mistake? Of course,’ said Saleh. “Is it something that will make him better? Absolute.’
He said Wilson needs to understand “our job is to take the bullets and own it,” adding, “I don’t think it’s indicative of how he feels about his team or his teammates.”
Wilson’s poor play was discussed at Monday’s team meeting, a source said. Saleh said all achievements – good and bad – are mentioned in team meetings.
At 6-4, the Jets are still in the playoff hunt, but they’re not getting much production from Wilson. He has just four touchdown passes, one less than Flacco, who hasn’t played since Week 3.
Saleh stressed that every position, not just quarterback, will be evaluated.
“If you attack 100 yards [actually, 103]”I don’t care how good New England is — and they are good — it’s unacceptable,” Saleh said. “It’s not NFL football.”
A seething Saleh said after the game that the offensive performance in the second half (2 total yards) was “dog s—“. Saleh said Monday he has no plans to replace the playcaller, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur.
Wilson came under heavy criticism after throwing three interceptions against the Patriots on October 30, but he responded cleanly with a solid game in an offense by the Buffalo Bills.
But Sunday’s performance was a major step backwards. Receivers Garrett Wilson and Denzel Mims were clearly frustrated during the game, and Garrett Wilson ranted at reporters calling the offense a “sorry” unit without mentioning Zach Wilson’s name.
“I think we have a championship quality defense and I think we have really good forwards,” said Saleh. “From a schematic standpoint, I think we’re right with everyone else. But I’m just trying to evaluate to see how we can get this attack going a little bit.”
Wilson ranks 23rd in Total QBR (45.2) and 34th out of 34 qualified passers in completion percentage (55.6). Predictably, the three players made available to the media on Monday expressed confidence in Wilson. When asked about his confidence in Wilson, guard Laken Tomlinson said, “It’s high. He’s our quarterback. What do you mean?”