FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Zach Wilson is excited for his latest and perhaps last opportunity to prove he can lead the Jets’ offense and denied that he was reluctant to play.
Robert Saleh named Wilson, who has been inactive the past two games, the starter for Sunday’s game against the Texans.
“Zach gives us the best chance to win and [we’ll] give him another opportunity to go prove that,” Saleh said.
Saleh also said that the Jets “always believed” that Wilson was the best healthy quarterback “in terms of giving us a chance to win.” The reason that Saleh trotted out Tim Boyle and Trevor Siemian the last two weeks was “trying to spark the offense.”
The plan now, according to Saleh, is for Wilson to be the Jets' quarterback for the rest of the season, barring injury.
“Excited, man,” Wilson said. “Any opportunity you can get in this league is a good one.”
Wilson sustained a major blow to his character on Monday when The Athletic reported that he was “reluctant” to play again and that he didn’t want to risk injury since it’s obvious he has no future with the Jets.
Wilson said the report is “absolutely not” true. He also said he didn’t feel the need to address his teammates and that they all have each other’s backs.
“Those guys know how much love I have for them,” Wilson said. “They can see I have no hesitation to play. I want to play for these guys. I would do anything for these guys. They mean the world to me.”
When Wilson was asked if the story angered him, he said he was “frustrated” and that he’s come to expect it from the New York media, but it won’t be “a distraction” for the team.
“It’s something we can put behind us,” Wilson said. “The locker room is in a good spot.”
Although Saleh never entirely dismissed the report, saying only that Wilson never expressed reservations directly to him, he wasn’t worried about it affecting the players. Saleh contends Wilson came to him Monday and told him he wanted the football.
“I am not concerned one bit about that report within the locker room,” Saleh said. “I have my reasons but Zach’s in a great place, the locker room is in a great place, and we’ll be ready to play ball.”
Siemian will be Wilson’s backup and newly signed Brett Rypien will be the Jets’ inactive/emergency quarterback.
Wilson, the No. 2 pick in 2021, has been benched three different times in less than 13 months. He was supposed to spend this season watching and learning from Aaron Rodgers. When he tore his left Achilles tendon in Week 1, the Jets turned back to Wilson.
He finished that game and started the next nine. The Jets got off to a 4-3 start, but they have lost five straight. Their offensive ineptitude has haunted them all year.
Saleh removed Wilson in the second half of the Jets’ Week 11 loss in Buffalo. Boyle replaced him. Wilson, who has thrown for 1,944 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions, was the emergency quarterback the past two games. He’s gone from No. 3 to No. 1 pretty quickly.
“In my opinion, Zach gives us the best chance to win,” Saleh said. “When things aren’t going good, obviously we haven’t been scoring, trying anything to get the offense going — and we’ve tried everything. We’re just settling in now and seeing what can get done.”
Wilson understood Saleh’s decision at the time. The Jets’ anemic offense seemingly got worse, though.
Boyle was benched during last week’s 13-8 loss to the Falcons. Siemian came in and nothing changed. The Jets didn’t score a touchdown for the third time in five games. Boyle was released Tuesday and Rypien was signed off the Seahawks' practice squad.
The ball and the offense is back in Wilson’s hands again. Saleh said he wants Wilson to “let the thing rip.” That’s Wilson’s plan.
“I’m going to have more fun than I’ve ever had in a professional way,” Wilson said. “At the same time, of course there’s a chip of just feeling like I need to prove something, feeling like this team needs to prove something, this offense needs to prove something. I think everyone wants to show that.”