Jets’ Saleh: Zach Wilson wants to play, but QB calls still TBD

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — The New York Jets are mired in a quarterback controversy, but not the usual kind. It revolves around Zach Wilson and whether he wants his old job back.

The Jets are without a starter for Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans after coach Robert Saleh declined to choose a quarterback from Wilson, Tim Boyle and Trevor Siemian on Monday. Rodgers’ Achilles tendon injury.

When the result can be muddied The Athletic reported The team is leaning toward Wilson, but he is reluctant to play because of the risk of injury.

Saleh insisted that was not the case, and Wilson came to him at 3pm on Monday and expressed his willingness to start. It’s unclear if Wilson sought out his coach because of the report.

“If he hesitates to play, guys, he won’t be here,” Salah told reporters.

“The young man wants the ball, he wants to start,” added the coach. “He believes he’s the best quarterback in the room and the best quarterback for this team and the guy who gives us the best chance to win. And I’ll tell you what I told him: I appreciate. I appreciate the fact that he wants to play. I’m not there yet. [with a decision].”

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It’s an extraordinary turnaround for a team that has been hampered for years by quarterback instability. The season was built around Rodgers, but his Week 1 injury forced the Jets to revert to Wilson, who was benched after nine starts in favor of Boyle. Siemian was replaced in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 13-8 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

The Jets (4-8), losers of five, have scored just 45 points during the skid.

Chances are that Salah Wilson will return, but the delay in the decision is curious. The announcement came Monday, when he moved from Wilson to Boyle. Salah may want to take the temperature of the locker room before promoting a player who is considered fearful of the job.

Later, during his weekly spot on “The Michael Kay Show” on ESPN New York Radio, Wilson said it was “perceptible” to make a comment to a teammate about his reluctance to return to the lineup, which was leaked. Saleh said he would not hold it against a player; He said he makes judgments based on direct conversations with the players.

Wilson, the No. 2 pick in 2021, has been benched three times in his career and will likely be released after the season. He has one year remaining on his four-year, $35 million contract, including $5.5 million fully guaranteed in 2024. He gets that money no matter what, but a significant injury will affect his overall value on the open market.

Saleh admitted there might be some concerns about Wilson’s head position after jumping around so much.

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“Emotionally, I definitely will,” he said. “We had this story last year, and I think it’s different. I think he really lost confidence last year. I think this year proved that. [Monday’s meeting]He knows very well that he should be on the football field.”

Publicly, Wilson has accepted his latest demotion without complaint, although he is “very upset” about not playing, Saleh said on the Gay Show. He was relegated to the third string for two games as the Jets continued to attack. Boyle led just one touchdown drive on 18 possessions; Siemian completed just 5 of 13 passes for 66 yards off the bench.

“The cool thing about Zach is he’s been working really hard because I think he understands that no matter what his future is, no matter what he’s going to be, he wants to be the best quarterback he can be,” tight end Tyler Conklin said.

The Jets have played four different quarterbacks for the second straight year under Saleh. If Siemian gets the starting nod, it will be the first time since 1989 that the Jets have started four quarterbacks in the same season. Wilson only had six touchdown passes in 10 games, but at least he moved the offense along at times, passing for 1,944 yards.

And then there’s Rodgers, who hasn’t ruled out playing again. But that’s a long shot, especially since the Jets are on the brink of mathematical elimination from the playoffs. Rodgers, nearly three months removed from Achilles surgery, is expected to practice for a second week. But don’t expect him to suit up Sunday against the Texans.

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“I’m going to piggyback on what he told you, anything is possible,” Saleh said. “But don’t hold your breath.”

In injury news, tight end CJ Uzoma (knee) is going on injured reserve and is expected to miss the remaining five games.

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