Tuesday, January 31, 2023
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Jets coach Robert Saleh not prepared to name starting QB ahead of ‘TNF’ vs. Jaguars

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The New York Jets’ latest loss to the Detroit Lions included another thrilling finish, but this time around, quarterback Mike White had little to do with it.

Quarterback Zach Wilson was back in the starting lineup in place of the injured White. As has been the case for most of his second season, Wilson put on a decent showing with a handful of mistakes sprinkled in. And for the third time in his last four starts, the Jets lost.

Wilson was good enough, though, to allow the Jets to consider more than one path to victory in Week 16, especially if White is unable to go. In fact, head coach Robert Saleh said as much Monday, telling reporters he isn’t prepared to say who will start under center if White, who is still getting tests done for his rib injury, is cleared to participate.

“I don’t really have a timeframe for this one,” Saleh said. “The good thing is that’s all walk-through and just like last week, he is cleared to practice, walk through and do everything. So he’s going to participate as he normally would.

“But at the same time, you want your starting quarterback to take all these walk-through reps, so we have to make a decision.”

Saleh’s quarterback situation has become a roller coaster that, at times, has been nauseating to the average fan. He stuck with Wilson as long as he could before it became clear he needed to make a change, not only benching the former top pick in favor of White, but sending Wilson to the bottom of the depth chart. It didn’t last long, though, and Sunday proved the Jets might need Wilson more than even they realized.

As such, Saleh turned back toward supporting Wilson publicly, making another case for his future.

“The frustrating thing is this kid’s gonna be a good quarterback,” Saleh said. “The NFL and this new instant coffee world that we’re in just does not want to give people time. So we look at him, and he is just nitpicked with a fine-tooth comb everything that he does — rightfully so, it is what it is — but he did a lot of really good things.

“So we’re going to try our best to focus on the things that he did good and make sure we really bring that to life, and we’ll continue to work on the things he needs to improve on.”

Wilson’s showing Sunday produced quality numbers, including 317 passing yards and two touchdowns. The frustrating element that will continue to attract negative attention, though, is his accuracy struggles. He barely broke 50 percent in completions and threw an ugly interception that was clearly the product of failing to properly read Detroit’s coverage.

Still, Wilson had the Jets in a position to win. He threw two touchdowns to C.J. Uzomah, including one on a well-designed play that saw Wilson drop a pass over Uzomah’s shoulder for a 40-yard score.

He’ll need to do more of that to keep himself in the hunt for the Jets’ long-term starting job and to keep New York’s playoff hopes alive, provided he gets another opportunity to take the field in the weeks ahead.

It sounds as if Saleh still prefers to play White at this point, but is preparing to proceed with Wilson, especially on a short week that concludes with a Thursday night date with Jacksonville. Beyond that, though, nothing is guaranteed, meaning the pressure is on for Wilson, just as it is for the rest of the 7-7 Jets.

“I do think that what we do represent here, and I think Joe (Douglas) is on the same page, that once you get drafted, it doesn’t matter,” Saleh said. “It’s something I learned from Pete (Carroll). I don’t care how much you get paid, I don’t care where you’ve been drafted. If you’re better by that much, you’re going to play. And that will never change, that will never change.”

Image & Story Credit: nfl.com

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