Robert Saleh still wasn’t ready on Monday to announce who his starting quarterback will be on Sunday and did everything he could to defuse a potential firestorm involving Zach Wilson.
According to Saleh, Wilson voluntarily came to him on Monday and told his coach that he wants the football. Saleh said he hasn’t decided who will get it when the Jets host the Texans.
“We had a really good conversation,” Saleh said during a Zoom call. “The young man wants the ball. He wants to start. 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.
“I’ll tell you the same thing I told him, I appreciate it. I appreciate the fact that he wants to play. I’m just not there yet.”
The Jets have used three quarterbacks in the last three games: Wilson, Tim Boyle and Trevor Siemian. Saleh likely is deciding between Wilson and Siemian.
The offense has performed poorly no matter who has led it. The Jets (4-8) have lost five straight games and scored only 10 offensive TDs all season.
A report in The Athletic earlier in the day said Saleh was leaning toward going back to Wilson but that the young quarterback was “reluctant” to run the offense again. Saleh refuted that.
“If he was reluctant to play, he wouldn’t be here,” Saleh said.
It’s hard to imagine that Wilson, who is getting paid $9.56 million this season, would choose not to play. Not being there for your teammates is career suicide. Wilson could have some reservations, though, considering how his Jets tenure has gone.
He was the No. 2 pick in 2021 and has not come close to living up to the expectations of being a franchise quarterback.
After being benched twice last season, he was supposed to back up and learn from Aaron Rodgers this year. Rodgers tore his left Achilles tendon in Week 1, though, forcing the Jets to go back to Wilson. He started the next nine games.
Saleh benched Wilson in the second half of a Week 11 loss in Buffalo and replaced him with Boyle. The Jets dropped Wilson to third string, making him their emergency quarterback the past two games.
Saleh said he would understand if there is hesitancy on Wilson’s part, but he said that has not been expressed to him.
“I’m always going to put myself in another person’s shoes to try to understand what they are or aren’t feeling,” Saleh said. “Empathetically, if that discussion had been had somewhere — it wasn’t with me — but if that conversation was had and somehow leaked out to the media, I don’t think that’s indicative of his mindset. The kid wants to play, as was demonstrated by what he just did.
Zach wants the ball. He believes he’s the best one for this team, the best player for this team and the best player to get it moving.”
In Boyle’s two starts, he threw one touchdown pass and four interceptions. He was benched in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 13-8 loss to the Falcons and replaced by Siemian, who didn’t fare much better. He was 5-for-13 for 66 yards and a fumble.
It’s been a struggle for everyone on offense to get into any rhythm with all the changes at quarterback, although the offense has other issues.
“It’s definitely difficult when you got different guys,” tight end Tyler Conklin said.
Conklin and linebacker Quincy Williams praised Wilson for how he’s been working after his demotion and staying engaged during the game.
“He’s been very dialed in,” Williams said.
Saleh said he will consult general manager Joe Douglas and the offensive coaches before he makes his decision.
He doesn’t want anyone “acting emotionally” and wants to ensure “we’re making the right decision for this organization and team moving forward.”
It may turn out that Wilson gives the Jets the best chance to win.
“I’m just not there yet,” Saleh said. “I’ll have that answer for you Wednesday, though.”