The Jets’ latest round of quarterback adventures will feature Zach Wilson reinstalled as the starter. Robert Saleh called the former No. 2 overall pick the best option the team has, and the third-year coach indicated he had always viewed Wilson as the most talented healthy QB on the team despite demoting him for a third time last month.
This marks the second Wilson re-emergence after a benching. The Jets demoted the BYU alum from starter to third-stringer in November 2022, but after leapfrogging Joe Flacco for the QB2 role weeks later, Wilson regained the gig following Mike White‘s rib injury. The Jets will dispense with a Wilson incremental depth chart climb, moving him from QB3 to QB1 in Week 14. Last week’s QB1 (Tim Boyle) being off the team makes that jump a bit easier. Trevor Siemian and ex-Nathaniel Hackett Broncos charge Brett Rypien are now on the roster, with Rypien guaranteed to stay for at least three weeks due to the Jets poaching him off the Rams’ practice squad.
Although Aaron Rodgers remains in the IR-return window, the Jets’ preferred starter is not expected to play this season. Saleh did not rule out Rodgers, who has linked a return to the Jets’ chances at a playoff berth, but said Wilson “God willing” will be New York’s starter the rest of the way.
At 4-8, the Jets are all but eliminated from the postseason race. The team has lost five straight, reminding of its close to last season, which involved a six-game skid to wrap the slate. The rumor about Wilson being reluctant to start again may have come from the embattled QB asking at least one teammate for advice on how to handle the team’s final few games, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes. Wilson said The Athletic’s report depicting reluctance to return as the starter was “absolutely not” accurate.
One more season remains on Wilson’s rookie contract. Even with Wilson costing the Jets $11MM-plus in dead money to waive during the 2024 offseason, Cimini indicates the disappointing passer is unlikely to be part of the ’24 Jets. Given his performance and repeated benchings, it certainly adds up the organization will have had its fill by season’s end. The Jets attempting to redevelop Wilson — by handing him the QB2 job this offseason and then declaring him their unquestioned starter once Rodgers went down — can be scrutinized; assuming Rodgers is back next season, it makes sense for the organization to bring in a more reliable backup for its 40-year-old starter.
Regarding Rodgers’ comments about the Jets’ poor culture leading to the Wilson information leaking, Saleh disagrees with the injured veteran about the Jets having a culture problem, Cimini tweets. It is quite possible the Rodgers-Saleh-Hackett-Joe Douglas quartet will be back next season, with ownership writing this one off as a lost campaign due to Rodgers’ Week 1 Achilles tear. Of course, how much more losing will Woody Johnson tolerate even in these unusual circumstances?
The Jets have scored 10 offensive touchdowns this season, topping the 2006 Raiders and 2011 Rams (11 apiece) for the fewest through 12 games this century. Given Hackett’s disastrous showing as the Broncos’ play-caller last season, his stock has cratered since a three-year run as the Packers’ non-play-calling OC. But a perception around the league has pointed to the Jets taking a mulligan on this season, ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano notes. Rodgers’ influence is also believed to be strong enough he will be able to dictate how the Jets proceed with their staff. Rodgers’ first seven months in New York lend credence to that, which could bode well for the current staff. Saleh is 15-31 leading the Jets.
Johnson was serving as the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom when both Douglas and Saleh were interviewed, and Graziano adds acting owner Christopher Johnson is believed to have overseen the Saleh hire in January 2021. How Wilson and the Jets fare down the stretch could have some sway in terms of which staffers have the opportunity to lead a presumably Rodgers-quarterbacked team in 2024.