New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh said Sunday after his team’s brutal loss to the New England Patriots where the offense struggled that quarterback Zach Wilson’s status against the upcoming Chicago Bears game was the “furthest thing on my mind.”
He did end up saying, “Zach’s our quarterback.”
That same sentiment wasn’t felt on Monday when Saleh spoke with reporters.
Saleh was instead non-committal on the second overall pick from the 2021 NFL Draft starting under center, saying that he and the coaching staff are “keeping everything on the table” for next Sunday’s battle with the Bears and Justin Fields, a rising star in Chicago that went nine picks after Wilson in the same draft.
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“Being on the plane ride, and you watch the tape, and you just see some things, and you write down notes, and it’s just me taking a step back. …Just take a deep breath and say, ‘You know what? Everything needs to be evaluated.’ When you put up 100 yards of offense, I don’t care how good New England is, and they are good, it’s unacceptable,” Saleh told reporters. “That’s not NFL football. So everything is being talked about.
“The quarterback is part of the pile of stuff that’s being talked about, and it’s something that we have to find an answer to, and we got to do it by Wednesday.”
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Wilson went 9 of 22 for 77 yards and was sacked six times in one of the worst performances of his career. That was compared to Patriots’ quarterback Mac Jones, who threw for 246 yards with an 85.2% completion rate. The Jets’ defense, however, were able to keep them off the board and still give Wilson chances to take the lead.
That’s why Wilson’s message of a blunt “no” when asked if the offense let the defense down in the game was met with vitriol by fans all over social media, who began questioning whether the Jets should bench Wilson or keep him as their starter moving forward.
Those words reportedly didn’t sit well with some Jets in the locker room, according to ESPN.
Saleh debunked any talk about the locker room losing faith in the BYU product, though.
“No. Those guys in the locker room, they talk to each other all the time,” he said. “I think players have empathy for one another. They know how hard this job is.
“Football’s an emotional game. I’m not going to shy away from the fact that I do think he is the ultimate competitor. He wants to win just as much as anybody,” Saleh said added. “He works as hard as anybody. It means so much to him. Can he be a little bit better in front of you guys and when he’s up here on the podium in terms of the expectation that when you are standing in front of the podium it’s our job to take bullets and own it, especially when it’s time to own it? Yeah, of course he can. But I don’t think it’s indicative of how he feels about his team and teammates. And I don’t think he’s naïve to the offense not playing to be the best of their ability while the defense is out there balling. I don’t think that’s what he was trying to convey.”
Jets rookie wide receiver Garrett Wilson, who had just two catches for 12 yards, said, “We’re out here looking sorry, man. We know that we’re not sorry. So that’s why it really hurts.”
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Jets defensive captain Quinnen Williams supported Zach Wilson after the loss.
“We know Zach’s heart as a defense. He’s a leader of our team. He’s a great player, great person inside and out,” he said.
“We all have faith in Zach. We all love Zach, and we all are a part of this team. That’s one of our brothers, and we’re gonna stick by him through hell or high waters.”
Zach Wilson is currently 33rd in the NFL with a 72.6 passer rating and 34th in completion percentage (55.6%) in seven games this season. He’s thrown four touchdowns to five interceptions.
If Saleh’s decision is to bench Wilson this week, Mike White will likely be the starter as he’s backed up Wilson in recent games.
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Joe Flacco started the first three games of the season while Wilson rehabbed a knee injury, going 1-2 with a huge upset win over the Cleveland Browns in the final seconds of the Week 2 contest.