FLORHAM PARK, NJ — The New York Jets aren’t considering a quarterback change — not this week, not for the rest of the season.
Zach Wilson got a strong vote of confidence Monday from coach Robert Saleh, who said he has “complete confidence” in the sophomore year quarterback despite three “grueling” interceptions in Sunday’s 22-17 loss to the New England Patriots.
Saleh said he plans to ride Wilson for the duration barring injuries. “Right,” Saleh said. “He’s our quarterback.”
Wilson, who was drafted second overall in 2021, has never been benched despite many rocky performances in 18 career starts. He is 24th out of 31 qualified passers-by in Total QBR (41.8). After three straight games with no turnovers, he imploded against the Patriots, ending the Jets’ four-game winning streak.
Saleh tried to turn the positive, saying Wilson is one of the reasons the Jets are a surprising 5-3.
“Nobody had us at five wins right now to start the season, and Zach is a big part of that,” he said.
“He’s gotten a lot better,” Saleh added. “We expect him to get better and better. Do I expect it to all stay clean? No, every quarterback has his days, but he’s our quarterback because we think he’ll get better and he’ll keep proving why he’s the No. 2 pick .”
Wilson has a maddening tendency to make mistakes when under duress, trying to create something out of nothing. All three interceptions came on plays in which he was pressured by a pass-rusher. He admitted after the game: “Sometimes you sit there and wonder, ‘Why did I just do that?'”
Calling on a theme from last season, Saleh said Wilson needs to understand that “boring” can be good — meaning taking a checkdown or throwing the ball out of bounds.
“There’s that simple reminder: it’s okay to be bored, and remember you have a bunch of guys in that locker room who are also pretty good at football and they’re behind you,” he said.
Saleh said Wilson is “urgent,” but quickly withdrew that word.
“I want to make sure I’m saying it right: he’s a young man who wants to prove his worth,” said the coach. “To be honest, you can prove your worth just by doing and doing your job the best you can.”
Wilson has completed just 54.9% of his passes, with three touchdowns and five interceptions. He averages just 210 yards per game, boosting his career-best 355 yards against the Patriots. In three of the four wins, he was essentially a game manager, relying on the running game and the defense.
Saleh may have unwittingly sparked a potential controversy by elevating Mike White to No. 2 before Sunday’s game, thereby demoting Joe Flacco to No. 3. The move is permanent, Saleh said, explaining that “we need to know what we have in Mike.”
White gets more practice reps as a second stringer, which means a chance to develop his game. He’s also a fan favorite, meaning the home crowd could sing to him when Wilson wrestles with the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
“Yeah, it’s true, those (interceptions) can’t happen,” said tight end CJ Uzomah. “He knows it, we know it as a team. At the same time, he made good decisions. He had really good balls. He did the right things. We, as an attack, didn’t protect correctly, did” “I don’t walk the right routes. Everything always comes back to the quarterback and he has to carry that burden, but our job is to make sure he knows he’s not a one-man team.”