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Robert Saleh not saying if Mike White could supplant a healthy Zach Wilson

Mike White's most incredible plays from his first NFL start

Watch New York Jets quarterback Mike White's most incredible plays from his first NFL start, a 34-31 win over the Bengals in Week 8 of the 2021 season.

Robert Saleh wouldn't name Zach Wilson his starting quarterback when he returns from his knee injury. It’s Mike White’s job right now, and Saleh said Monday that he’s focused on this week.

White started this potential controversy by having the game of his life in his first NFL start Sunday.

He threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns and caught a two-point conversion pass in the Jets’ 34-31 comeback win over Cincinnati on Sunday. That made Wilson’s status as QB1 at least a question mark, depending on how White performs.

But Saleh said it’s "a hypothetical" and that his immediate concern is getting White and the Jets ready to play in Indianapolis on Thursday.

"Hypothetical, I could be the next Vince Lombardi," Saleh said. "The reality is Mike played a really good game. We got a really short turnaround. We got to get ourselves going. The whole hypothetical thing, the focus is on this moment.

"Zach getting healthy is always at the forefront of our mind. At the same time, guys, it’s a hypothetical, you take the days as they come. That would be the best thing I could answer. If everything goes according to plan and Zach comes back and he’s healthy, we’ll address it when we cross that bridge."

That would be next week.

The prognosis when Wilson sprained his right PCL last Sunday in New England was that he would miss two to four weeks. The Jets didn’t place him on injured reserve because he would have to miss at least three weeks.

Saleh said the Jets "feel good" about Wilson being able to play against the Bills on Nov. 14. "At the very, very least," they think he can practice that week, and they didn’t want to lose that.

So at the very, very least, White could start the next two games. But after Sunday’s game, when asked if White could remain the starting quarterback when Wilson is healthy, Saleh opened the door on potentially sticking with White by saying "anything is possible."

Saleh certainly didn’t close the door on Monday.

"That’s for you guys to talk about," he said. "I know exactly how we’ll operate. I know exactly what we’re looking for. If it’s something you guys want to play with and have fun with — it doesn’t surprise me — but have fun."

The Jets drafted Wilson with the No. 2 overall pick and handed him the keys to the franchise. There was no real quarterback competition in training camp. The Jets didn’t sign a veteran backup until they brought in Josh Johnson early in camp.

They’ve built everything around Wilson, addressing the offensive line, running back and wide receiver positions in free agency and the draft. White probably would have to play off the charts for the Jets to consider not going back to Wilson.

Saleh said he doesn’t need to have a conversation with Wilson about the situation.

"Zach’s main focus is to do everything he can to get healthy," Saleh said. "Get healthy and prepare himself to play football. That’s the main focus today. We’ll continue that focus with the intent to get him back playing as soon as he’s healthy. But like I said, we’re going to go day by day."

White had a tremendous game and was able to do things that Wilson hadn’t done in his first six games. The Jets came in averaging an NFL-low 13.3 points and 276 yards. They scored 34 points, racked up 511 yards and scored in the first quarter for the first time this season.

"It’s shown that we have a really good quarterback room," Saleh said. "The faith that we had in Mike White since the beginning of OTAs and working with him and going through training camp, despite all the outside noise of trying to bring in somebody else. He really had the opportunity to shine and he did and he did a really nice job, proving a lot of people in this building right."

The Jets traded for Joe Flacco last week, and the belief was he would start one of the games that Wilson missed. Flacco even said, "I see myself playing here at some point in the next couple weeks."

But White earned another start. Saleh hasn’t decided if Flacco will be active Thursday or if Johnson will be the backup against the Colts.

"The quarterback room is awesome," Saleh said. "What we have is a good problem."

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