Wilson, now QB2, still sees himself as the future of the Jets

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — Former New York Jets starter Zach Wilson moved one step closer to playing again, when he was named the No. 1 quarterback. 2 after three weeks of inactivity.

And he hopes to continue his rebound, saying he still sees himself as the future of the Jets.

“Yeah, I definitely believe in myself,” said Wilson. “Of course, I have all the faith in the world – I think I should – but you have to be able to prove it.”

Wilson, who sits Nov. 23 backing Mike White, will replace Joe Flacco as the No. 1 quarterback. 2 for Sunday’s crucial game against the Detroit Lions at MetLife Stadium.

Coach Robert Saleh’s decision, which he announced Wednesday, is important because White is dealing with a rib injury. He was expected to start the game, Saleh said, even though his practice time was limited Wednesday. The Jets have not disclosed the exact nature of the injury.

White’s injury, coupled with Flacco’s ineffective assist Sunday in the 20-12 loss to the Buffalo Bills, appeared to have opened the door for Wilson’s improvement, though Saleh called it a “coincidence”.

Wilson, compiled No. 2 in 2021, spending the last three weeks as quarterback for the scout team during the week and being inactive on Sunday. The Jets called the benching a “reset”, saying they wanted him to sharpen his fundamentals without the pressure of having to prepare to face opponents.

“The biggest thing for me mentally is finding joy in football,” said Wilson. “I love this game. Definitely didn’t lose, but I think you guys feel the frustration of some of the rough play.”

Saleh, who stated he wanted to get Wilson back into the lineup, praised his approach from the bench.

“Zach has done a great job,” Saleh said. “He has been careful in his approach over the last three weeks. He is holding himself accountable with regards to how he wants to attack in training, how he performs in training, against our defense, which I think is a pretty good defense to play against. He’s been working on all the different things we’ve asked him to complete.”

Wilson’s window is closing. In all likelihood, the Jets (7-6) will continue with the Whites unless they drop out of contention. Saleh said he took it week after week. Wilson said he was looking forward to playing but said it was out of his control.

White was only 1-2 as a starter, but his offense averaged 420 yards and 22 points per game with him at quarterback. He has averaged just 287 yards and 21 points with Wilson, who won five of his seven starts.

“He’s a very talented young man – very talented young man,” Saleh said of Wilson. “We’re in the business of developing people, and I’ve said it before: This was Mike White’s opportunity, and he attacked that opportunity. He did well.

“But at the same time, we have to make sure we do everything we can to develop Zach to where we know he can be.”

Wilson says “frustration” is out of uniform, adding, “you can sit there and get mad” — but he’s trying to keep it positive. He also praised White, who galvanized the locker room.

“He did a great job being decisive, getting the ball out of his hands and being accurate,” said Wilson. “So there have been a lot of cool learning experiences over the past few weeks.”

White was crushed by the Bills’ passes, which forced him out of the game on two occasions. Flacco came off the bench with a total of seven shots, which wasn’t great. He lost hits in the strip sack and completed only one of three passes for 1 yard.

White, after a medical evaluation including X-rays, finished the game. Afterwards, he was taken by ambulance to a Buffalo area hospital for preventive tests. On Monday, he told reporters he felt good enough to start against the Lions.

“We are still working as if he is playing this week,” said Saleh, Wednesday.

For Flacco, 37, the previous Super Bowl MVP with the Baltimore Ravens, this marks the second time this season he’s been demoted to third string. That also happened in October, when the Jets decided to make White the QB2 behind Wilson.

It’s been a strange year for Flacco, who started the first three games (1-2) while Wilson recovered from pre-season knee surgery.

Wilson was benched after a 77-yard passing performance in a 10–3 loss to the New England Patriots, a game in which he completed only nine of 22 passes.

He created a firestorm in his postmatch press conference, refusing to take responsibility for the foul’s poor performance. That angered some players, sources said, and may have factored into Saleh’s decision to seat him. Days later, Wilson apologized for his postmatch comments.

In another injury development, the Jets could be without star defensive tackle Quinnen Williams (calf), who is out of practice and still considered 50-50 to play, Saleh said. Wide receiver Corey Davis (concussed) also missed practice, but he was “on target” for Sunday’s play, Saleh said.

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