It’s been a wild month for the New York Jets; specifically the starting quarterback spot.
New York’s focus in 2021 was to develop its highly-coveted rookie quarterback, Zach Wilson. That all took a drastic turn when the young signal-caller went down with a knee injury against the Patriots in Week 7, which opened the door for Mike White… Then Josh Johnson… Then Joe Flacco.
But, the train is finally back on the tracks.
And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.
Coach Saleh confirmed the news first reported by Connor Hughes of The Athletic: Zach Wilson fully recovered from a PCL sprain — mentally and physically — and will start at quarterback for the Jets this Sunday against the Texans.
“As soon as we got clearance that he was fully healthy and he was ready to roll and he was good mentally, we were good with the decision,” Saleh told reporters on Wednesday.
Wilson had been practicing with the scout team offense as he progressed through his recovery the past couple of weeks. Saleh praised the progression Wilson demonstrated during that time.
“The one thing we wanted to see in practice was to see the confidence in the knee,” Saleh said. “To be able to plant, throw…he scrambled some, he showed some good things.”
Wilson, who hasn’t played in a game since suffering the injury on October 24th, is looking forward to making his return to the lineup.
“That rush, that feeling you get just to be back on the field, I’m just happy to be back with the guys,” he told reporters.
The 22-year-old is constantly striving to earn his stripes on the field. He is also determined to improve his game, which he feels he was able to do by watching White, Johnson, and Flacco conduct the offense competently from the sideline.
“I feel like every rep that they went through, I was able to learn from,” Wilson said.
What was he able to learn during his time off? To play in the system. To get the ball out quickly. To take what the defense gives you and to take the shot when the opportunity presents itself. As Saleh and the Jets’ coaching staff would call it: “boring” football; although Wilson wouldn’t refer to it as that.
“My mindset needs to be to make them pay once they give [those big plays] to us,” Wilson said. “But if they don’t, I wouldn’t call it boring football, just play football the way it should be played.”
Saleh understands Wilson’s style and strengths. He understands that the rookie is capable of throwing the ball to any level of the field at any time. He wants smart, simpler play, but he also doesn’t want “Charlie Check-down,” he reminded reporters.
“There is balance.”
Obviously, Wilson is still just a rookie, so don’t expect flawless play — or anything close to it — when he returns. The goal isn’t to play perfect football; the goal is to show progression. Wilson should show that he progressed in his ability to understand the system and how it works. He should show that he progressed in his ability to cherish the home run ball rather than live by it. And he believes he’s up for it.
“I feel 100% confident in my ability to go out there and play football how I need to play football,” Wilson said.
Wilson and the Jets have a seven-game stretch to close out the season, starting in Houston this weekend.