Jets returning to Zach Wilson as QB1 against Texans


FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — After two days of speculation and palace intrigue, the New York Jets announced Wednesday they will start Zach Wilson at quarterback on Sunday against the Houston Texans — only two weeks after he was benched and demoted to third string.

“I’m going to have more fun than I’ve ever had, in a professional way,” said Wilson, looking ahead to what likely will be his final five games with the Jets.

Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in 2021, said he was “excited” about being back in the lineup. He denied a report by The Athletic, which said Monday that he was reluctant to accept the starting reins again.

That, he said, is “absolutely not” true.

“I’ve never once said that to anybody in this locker room, that I wouldn’t want to play,” Wilson said.

He said he didn’t feel the need to clear the air with teammates — he didn’t address it in the team meeting — but he evidently discussed it with some players.

“He talked to us about it,” tight end Tyler Conklin told ESPN “… He made it very clear that, ‘Hey, I want to be out there battling with you guys.'”

Coach Robert Saleh went back to Wilson and two poor starts by Tim Boyle, who was abruptly released Tuesday. The alternative was Trevor Siemian, who also was ineffective after replacing Boyle in Sunday’s 13-8 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

“Zach gives us the best chance to win,” said Saleh, who will make Siemian the No. 2 quarterback. Brett Rypien, signed Tuesday from the Seattle Seahawks‘ practice squad, will be the emergency quarterback.

Asked if Wilson will remain the Jets’ starting quarterback for the rest of the season, Saleh responded, “God willing.”

Saleh was leaning toward Wilson on Monday, sources said, but he delayed his announcement in the aftermath of The Athletic report. Saleh, who met privately with him on Monday, insisted that Wilson wanted badly to be in the lineup.

Saleh reiterated that Wilson “wants the ball.”

Unusually terse with reporters, Saleh insisted there was no concern about Wilson’s promotion creating a negative fallout in the locker room. Fair or not, there’s a perception that Wilson isn’t all-in.

“I’m not concerned one bit about that report within the locker room,” Saleh said. “… I have my reasons, but Zach is in a great place, the locker room is in a great place, and he will be ready to play ball.”

It’s another interesting turn in the Jets’ ever-changing quarterback situation. They’re in this mess after Aaron Rodgers ruptured his left Achilles tendon on the fourth play of the season and the team’s backup plan hasn’t worked.

Rodgers hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning, but the Jets have less than a 0.1% chance of making the playoffs, according to ESPN Analytics. The four-time MVP said it wouldn’t make “a ton of sense” to risk reinjury in games with no playoff implications.

Rodgers didn’t practice on Wednesday — a surprise — but the day off was part of his rehab schedule, said Saleh, adding that he won’t shut the door on a Rodgers return “until the door is closed.”

Rodgers sparked a firestorm Tuesday during an appearance on “The Pat McAfee Show,” scolding the organization for “chicken s—” leaks to the media — a response to the Wilson report. Rodgers said the team needs to improve its culture.

“I don’t think it’s an attack on the organization,” Saleh said Wednesday, “but I always appreciate Aaron’s thoughts and comments.”

Wilson, handed the backup job at the start of the season despite two disappointing years, continued his struggles after stepping in for Rodgers. He lost six of nine starts, with the offense managing only eight touchdowns in those games. For the season, he’s ranked 29th out of 29 qualified quarterbacks with a 30.3 Total QBR.

It has been a tumultuous three seasons for Wilson, who has an 11-20 record and has been benched three times. “I really, truly think it’s made me stronger,” he said of the adversity. “Is it frustrating? Of course, but I need to play better.”

Wilson signed through 2024, but he likely will be looking for a team in the offseason — one of the reasons why he might be concerned about staying healthy. One source told ESPN he sought advice from at least one teammate on how to approach the final few games, which may have been interpreted as hesitancy to play.

Speaking to reporters, Wilson said multiple times that he has a good relationship with the rest of the team, which he has admitted wasn’t always the case during his time in New York.

“Everyone knows I’m going to do everything I can for the guys in this locker room, no matter the situation,” he said. “Of course, there’s a chip (on my shoulder), just feeling like I need to prove something. This team needs to prove something. This offense needs to prove something.”

Source : ESPN