FLORHAM PARK, NJ — New York Jets coach Robert Saleh is vacillating over his commitment to Zach Wilson and is preparing for a possible quarterback change this week.
Three weeks after saying Wilson would be the starter for the rest of the season barring an injury, Saleh on Monday was non-binding on whether the 2021 second overall pick will start Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
This was the organization’s first doubt about Wilson’s status as the No. 1 quarterback.
“We’re keeping everything on the table over the next few days,” Saleh said.
When asked if he was willing to name Wilson as a starter this week, he said, “Not now, not until I’m done evaluating everything.”
Wilson was briefed on his status by the coaches, essentially leaving him in limbo.
Mike White is next on the depth chart, followed by Joe Flacco, who started the first three games while Wilson was recovering from a preseason knee injury. Saleh didn’t rule out either quarterback as a possible replacement.
Wilson is 5-2 in the starting XI but has played poorly in two of his last 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. After that, he showed little responsibility with comments that went viral. When asked if he had let down the defense, Wilson simply said, “No. No.”
Some defenders were upset by the comments, sources said.
Clearly, Saleh wasn’t happy with the way Wilson handled his post-game press conference.
“Is it a mistake? Sure,” Saleh said. “Is it something he’ll be better at? Absolutely.”
He said Wilson needed to understand “that our job is to capture the bullets and own them,” adding, “I don’t think it indicates how he feels about his team or his teammates.”
Wilson’s poor play was discussed at Monday’s team briefing, a source said. Saleh said all performances – 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 performance out of Wilson. He has just four touchdown passes, one fewer than Flacco, who hasn’t played since Week 3.
Saleh emphasized that every position, not just the quarterback, is evaluated.
“When you muster 100 yards of attack [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 yards overall) was “dog s—“. Saleh said Monday he has no plans to replace playcaller, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur.
Wilson was heavily criticized after throwing three interceptions against the Patriots on Oct. 30, but he responded well with a solid game in a Buffalo Bills upset.
But Sunday’s performance was a big step backwards. Receivers Garrett Wilson and Denzel Mims were clearly frustrated during the game, and Garrett Wilson ranted to reporters, calling the offense an “excuse” unit without mentioning Zach Wilson’s name.
“I think we have a championship-quality defense and I think we have really good players up front,” said Saleh. “From a schematic point of view, I think we’re level with everyone else. But I’m just trying to evaluate to see how we can get that offensive going a little bit.”
Wilson ranks 23rd in overall 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 their 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 by that?”