Zach Wilson

Jets Not Considering Sticking With Joe Flacco As Starter

SEPTEMBER 25: Wilson is expected to be cleared by doctors next week, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (Twitter link). Assuming that happens, Wilson will be in line to start the Jets’ Week 4 contest against the Steelers.

Per Rapoport, Wilson has experienced no setbacks in his recovery and has continued to make good progress.

SEPTEMBER 22: The highwater marks of the past two Jets seasons have come with their high-end quarterback prospect sidelined. Nearly a year after Mike White‘s 400-yard game keyed an upset over the Bengals, Joe Flacco led the NFL’s first 13-point comeback inside of two minutes in 21 years.

But the development of Zach Wilson remains the team’s objective. While Flacco will start in Week 3, Robert Saleh said the Jets will not hesitate to go back to their second-year starter once he is ready ready to return. Wilson remains out due to the August knee surgery he underwent.

Zach’s the future of the organization. We all know that,” Saleh said, via the New York Post’s Brian Costello. “As soon as the doctors clear him, we’ll get him on the field.”

Flacco’s throwback performance in Cleveland (307 yards, four touchdown passes) could prompt calls for the Jets to keep their 37-year-old backup in the mix. This would remind of the brief Jets QB quandary that came about last season after White’s work against the Bengals. White’s four-interception game against the Bills two weeks later quieted the campaigns for him to keep the gig. After one Flacco start, Wilson was back under center for the final games of the season.

Saleh said before the season Wilson would miss at least the team’s first three games. The former No. 2 overall pick returning in Week 4 is not yet a certainty. Wilson will ramp up his activity this week, but Saleh did not guarantee next week will be the BYU product’s return window. That still looks to remain a realistic target, at least, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). Week 3 will mark Wilson’s seventh missed game as a pro.

Their Cleveland comeback notwithstanding, the Jets remain a rebuilding team. They added a few pieces on offense to further assist Wilson — from guard Laken Tomlinson to No. 10 overall pick Garrett Wilson — but his injuries and rookie-year struggles have injected some doubt into the team’s quarterback plan. It remains relatively early, however, as Zach Wilson has not yet taken a regular-season snap with Gang Green’s improved offense. A fair amount of pressure could await the young quarterback upon returning, however. It will be interesting to see how long of a leash Saleh provides if Wilson (30th in 2021 QBR) is ineffective when he comes back.

Jets To Start Joe Flacco Vs. Ravens

The NFL continues to see quarterback rematches lining its Week 1 schedule. Joe Flacco will now join Russell Wilson and Baker Mayfield in going against a former employer this week.

Flacco will start in place of Zach Wilson in Sunday’s Jets-Ravens tilt, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Although the Jets left the door open to Wilson beginning the season on time, Flacco was viewed as their most likely season-opening starter. The matchup will come against the team with which Flacco spent 11 seasons to start his career.

It will be an extended run for Flacco under center. Robert Saleh said Wednesday the Jets will not have Wilson until at least Week 4. This will bring a second straight season with a prolonged Wilson absence. He missed four games as a rookie. The Jets face the Browns and Bengals in Weeks 2 and 3. Completing their rare all-AFC North start to the season, the Jets face the Steelers in Week 4.

Wilson, who suffered a PCL injury in the Jets’ preseason opener, underwent arthroscopic surgery three weeks ago. Wilson also sustained a knee contusion. Knee trouble was the cause of Wilson’s 2021 hiatus as well. It makes sense for the Jets not to rush the former No. 2 overall pick back and, for this week at least, Flacco starting in the high-end prospect’s place adds intrigue.

Flacco has been gone from Baltimore since 2019, when the Ravens traded him to the Broncos for a fourth-round pick. But he has yet to face his former squad. The Jets, who had initially acquired Flacco in 2020, landed him again — via trade from the Eagles, for a sixth-round choice — in 2021. Flacco re-signed with the Jets, for one year and $3.5MM, in March.

The Jets could save a roster spot by placing Wilson on IR, but that would knock him out for four games. With Wilson’s development being front and center to the Jets’ 2022 cause, the team keeping him on its 53-man roster in hopes of only a three-game absence is logical. Keeping Wilson active will enable him to continue practicing. While the starter continues his recovery, Mike White will be positioned as Flacco’s backup.

Still, this is a tough development for a Jets team eager to see what it has in Wilson. The team has used some high-level resources to build an offense around him. This year alone, the team drafted Garrett Wilson 10th overall and gave Laken Tomlinson a lucrative deal in free agency. The Jets are already without 2020 first-rounder Mekhi Becton for the season. Wilson’s second notable NFL injury adds another bad break for the rebuilding team.

Latest On Jets QB Zach Wilson

After suffering a torn meniscus and a bone bruise in the Jets’ preseason opener, Zach Wilson underwent successful arthroscopic surgery Tuesday. The second-year quarterback has resumed walking, per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, who notes no additional knee damage was found during the operation.

But a Week 1 return may still be a bridge too far. Joe Flacco will likely be the Jets’ season-opening starter, Cimini adds. The Jets were cautious with Wilson last year, after he suffered a PCL injury. The former No. 2 overall pick returned to practice for three weeks before the team gave him the green light to play. Unsurprisingly, the Jets again plan to be cautious with their latest top-five quarterback draftee.

We’re going to do right by him in terms of making sure he’s 100% healthy,” Robert Saleh said. “We’re going to take it by how Zach looks, how he feels, how he moves, what the doctors tell us. Whenever that moment is, he’ll step on the field.”

Wilson was initially given a two- to four-week return timetable. Just more than three weeks remain until Week 1. Wilson has seen injuries hijack developmental time early in his career, having missed four rookie-year games. His missing time to start this season would begin to remind of Sam Darnold‘s years with the Jets. Injuries and a mononucleosis bout, respectively, kept Darnold off the field for at least three games in each of his three Jets campaigns.

The Jets re-signed Flacco, 37, on a one-year, $3.5MM deal ($2.85MM guaranteed) this offseason. He has made five starts for the Jets in two seasons. The team is winless with the former Super Bowl MVP at the controls. While Mike White led the Jets to a surprise win over the Bengals last season, Saleh confirmed Flacco is Wilson’s top backup. The Jets’ September slate features games against the Ravens, Browns and Bengals.

Jets’ Zach Wilson Undergoes Successful Surgery

The Jets have been holding their breath in recent days due to the knee injury suffered by starting quarterback Zach WilsonToday’s procedure produced good news, however; the surgery was deemed a success, and led to no surprises with respect to his recovery timeline (Twitter link via ESPN’s Rich Cimini). 

Today’s operation – arthroscopic surgery aimed at repairing torn meniscus in his knee – ended up being simply a ‘trim,’ which was by far the more straightforward procedure, and the one which will allow Wilson to play in 2022. When he does so remains a question, of course, but this is an encouraging piece of news for the Jets.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport tweets that a return in time for Week 1 is still “in play.” The team will proceed with caution, though, so it remains more realistic that the original recovery timeline of two-to-four weeks will see him miss at least one game to open the regular season. In addition to the meniscus injury, Wilson has to deal with a bone bruise as part of the damage done during the team’s first preseason contest.

Assuming last season’s No. 2 pick is sidelined for at least Week 1, the Jets will turn to Joe Flacco as their starter, whom they have expressed confidence in since learning of Wilson’s injury. On that point, Rapoport adds that New York seems to have no intention in trading for outgoing 49er Jimmy Garoppolo (Twitter link). Flacco, 37, has started five winless games with the Jets over the past two seasons, but the season opener will be against the Ravens, with whom he played for 11 years and won a Super Bowl.

Wilson struggled as a rookie last season, but expectations are higher for himself individually and the Jets in general this season. He is line to have an upgraded skill-position group around him, so a Year 2 jump of note would come as little surprise. His early-season performance will no doubt be affected by his recovery from this operation, but confirmation in the best-case scenario is still a very positive development for Gang Green.

Latest On Jets QB Zach Wilson’s Knee Injury

3:59pm: With Wilson expected to be out for two to four weeks, many have wondered if the Jets might need to make a move at quarterback, in case his knee injury ends up taking longer to heal than expected. But the Jets have confidence in backup veteran quarterback Joe Flacco “to hold the fort down” until Wilson’s eventual return, according to Josina Anderson of CBS Sports.

Anderson even put forth the idea that naming Flacco the Week 1 starter may be the most responsible thing to do, so that Wilson and company don’t feel rushed to try to get him back to the field in time for the regular season before he’s fully healed. While an announcement for Week 1 may be a bit premature, those in the building know that there is no need to rush Wilson back to the field.

Flacco has been with the Jets for a little under two years as a backup quarterback, initially behind Sam Darnold and then behind Wilson. After his first year backing up for the Jets, he signed a one-year deal with Philadelphia to back up Jalen Hurts before being traded back to the Jets in late-October of last year.

Flacco has yet to win a game with the Jets going 0-5 in his five starts. He’s proven to be a serviceable starter during this time, though, throwing nine touchdowns to only three interceptions as a Jet.

The initial thought, if the prognosis for Wilson is correct, is that Flacco would only be needed for one regular season game at most, but, if Wilson needs any extra time to get back to 100%, New York has the utmost confidence in the 37-year-old Flacco.

10:24am: Wilson suffered a meniscus tear, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post (on Twitter). Coupled with the bone bruise, Wilson is expected to be sidelined for two or four weeks. This is obviously great news for the Jets, and ESPN’s Rich Cimini tweets that the team believes their starting QB could be ready to go for Week 1.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets that Wilson will undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair the issue. That upcoming surgery will determine whether Wilson’s return is closer to the two-week timeline or the four-week timeline, per Schefter (on Twitter). Wilson will get more opinions to determine if he needs a knee scope, tweets Howe.

10:07am: Wilson suffered a bone bruise and his ligaments are “in good shape,” per Jeff Howe of The Athletic (on Twitter). The QB is set to undergo more tests to determine if there was any damage to his meniscus. At that time, we should get more clarity on a recovery timeline.

9:09am: The Jets are hoping they dodged a major bullet with their franchise quarterback. After Zach Wilson exited last night’s preseason opener with a knee issue, there was concern that the injury could end his season. Fortunately, ESPN’s Rich Cimini writes that the organization is hopeful that Wilson avoided a season-ending injury.The QB will undergo an MRI today to determine the extend of the knee damage.

Coach Robert Saleh said after the game that Wilson’s ACL is “supposed to be intact.” There are early indications that the QB may have reinjured his PCL, according to Cimini. That would be the same PCL that forced Wilson to miss four games during his rookie campaign. Assuming the Jets’ optimism turns out to be correct, the best-case scenario, according to Connor Hughes of SNYtv (on Twitter), would see Wilson sidelined for only two to three weeks, while the “worst case” would have the QB out for four to six weeks.

The non-contact injury certainly didn’t look great when it happened. Wilson suffered the injury during the Jets’ second offensive series, with the QB’s knee appearing to “buckle” before he fell to the ground. Wilson was able to walk off the field under his own power, but he did have a noticeable limp. Mike Kaye of ProFootballNetwork.com questions Wilson’s decision to scramble for extra yards; after passing the line of scrimmage, Wilson could have continued his path toward the sideline, but he decided to cut for extra yards. He “planted his foot awkwardly,” leading to the injury. Saleh seemed to agree with this sentiment, telling reporters that Wilson should have ran out of bounds instead of trying to shake the defender (per Kaye on Twitter).

The Jets have been a bit tight lipped since last night, but that has nothing to do with Wilson’s outlook. Rather, as Hughes notes, the staff is a bit “spooked” after how things unfolded with offensive lineman Mekhi Becton. When the right tackle suffered his knee injury, there was hope that he wouldn’t be out long. However, subsequent tests showed that the lineman suffered a fractured kneecap and would be done for the season.

“I’m over with trying to decipher doctor language, so I’m just going to let the MRI play out and figure it out tomorrow,” Saleh said after the game (via Kaye).

Assuming Wilson misses at least a few weeks, the Jets can use the extra reps to determine the No. 2 QB on the depth chart. Veteran Joe Flacco seems to have a solid hold of that gig, although he didn’t leave the sideline during last night’s contest. Mike White got an extended look in place of Wilson, with former UDFA Chris Streveler also getting some reps.

AFC East Rumors: Bills, Jets, Douglas, Jackson

On Friday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul made comments that all but guaranteed that an agreement for a new stadium for the Bills will be made soon, according to Mike Florio of NBC Sports.

Highmark Stadium (previously Rich Stadium, Ralph Wilson Stadium, and New Era Field) has been the home of the Bills since 1973. The Bills’ current lease on Highmark expires in 2023 and the franchise has been pushing with many government entities to build them a shiny, new stadium. The team has used the very real looming threat that there are plenty of other markets in the country that can support an NFL franchise.

Hochul commented on that threat saying, “That’s why we’re negotiating very intently, to make sure we have the right outcome for this community.” The new stadium will partially be funded by the public to the tune of about $850MM. The Governor claims that a deal will be done by April 1, in time for the annual budget.

Here are a few other rumors from around the AFC East, starting with a couple of notes that keep us in the Empire State:

  • The Jets are planning to use this offseason to add some weapons to the roster for quarterback Zach Wilson. They currently have Corey Davis and Elijah Moore sitting atop the depth chart. They would love to bring back Braxton Berrios as a fourth-receiver/gadget player and they haven’t yet given up on Denzel Mims. Still, New York will have ample opportunity to add a potential No. 1 receiver to the roster, according to SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano. The free agent market is home to many household names like Chris Godwin, Allen Robinson, Mike Williams, and, potentially, Amari Cooper. Players like Calvin Ridley and Cole Beasley have been rumored to be available via trade. The 2022 NFL Draft is also so rich in talented receivers that many believe some first round talent could fall to the second round where the Jets have two high picks, if they don’t choose to take a top prospect like Garrett Wilson or Drake London with the 10th overall pick.
  • That being said, Vacchiano also reports that, despite their vast spending ability, general manager Joe Douglas has been preaching the maintenance of financial flexibility. Though the Jets rank in the Top 5 in the NFL in salary cap space, Douglas rejected the notion that their $50-60MM in cap space will be dedicated to big spending in free agency. Douglas acknowledged free agency as just one of “a lot of different tools to improve your roster” and pointed to the Bengals as an example of responsible free agent spending. “I think Cincy did great in free agency last year,” he said. “They didn’t blow the doors off in terms of signing super high-priced guys. They brought in guys who fit exactly what they wanted to do.”
  • According to Mike Giardi of NFL Network, Patriots’ cornerback JC Jackson is likely headed for free agency with some lofty expectations. While Jackson still likes the Patriots, money is a big factor for the 26-year-old. Giardi claims that Jackson is strictly seeking compensation similar to Jalen Ramsey. New England won’t bring that money to the table and it sounds like they won’t be utilizing their franchise tag on Jackson, either. That information could lead to a tag and trade situation if other teams aren’t willing to shell out for Jackson in free agency.

Zach Wilson To Start Week 12

As expected, the Jets will have their No. 2 overall pick back under center when they take on the Texans on Sunday. As Alex Smith of SNY.tv writes, Zach Wilson will get the start for Gang Green.

Wilson suffered a PCL sprain in the team’s blowout loss at the hands of the Patriots in Week 7, and since then, the Jets have deployed Mike White, Josh Johnson, and Joe Flacco at quarterback. New York has gone 1-3 in that span, with its lone victory coming in a White-led upset of the Bengals in Week 8.

White’s performance in the Cincinnati game and in the first quarter of the ensuing matchup against the Colts — he left that contest early due to an injury of his own — gave the former fifth-rounder a chance to hang onto the starting job even when Wilson was healthy enough to return. But while the Jets still plan to tender White, an impending RFA, this offseason, his disastrous four-interception outing against the Bills in Week 10 scuttled that opportunity. He was benched in favor of the veteran Flacco for last week’s loss to the Dolphins.

Of course, even if the Jets were inclined to start one of White or Flacco over Wilson this week, they would be unable to. The team has placed both passers on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and they will be forced to miss Sunday’s game. Johnson will serve as Wilson’s backup.

Wilson has generally struggled in his rookie season. The BYU product has gone just 1-5 in his six starts and has mustered a meager 63.5 quarterback rating. He has completed just 57.5% of his passes and has tossed four touchdowns against nine interceptions. If he can show a marked improvement down the home stretch, the Jets’ offseason outlook will be considerably brighter.

Jets Plan To Tender QB Mike White

Mike White‘s feel-good 2021 season lasted about five quarters. The fourth-year quarterback led the Jets to an upset of the Bengals in relief of the injured Zach Wilson in Week 8 and then played well in the early stages of the club’s Week 9 loss to the Colts before being forced out with an injury. But his four-interception showing against the Bills last week forced HC Robert Saleh to turn the reins over to veteran Joe Flacco for today’s game against the Dolphins.

The move still qualified as something of a surprise, as New York is not competing for a playoff spot and arguably should have tried to see if White could rebound from his poor outing. The good news for White, as Rich Cimini of ESPN.com says, is that he is still in the Jets’ plans and that the team will tender him as a restricted free agent this offseason.

Cimini recently said that was the expectation, though after the disappointing Bills game and with Wilson slated to return soon — Cimini adds that Wilson has a good chance to suit up for next week’s bout with the Texans — the Jets’ potential last look at White in game action in 2021 might have put his future with the team in jeopardy. It does not sound like that is the case, however, and Cimini writes that the Jets expect White to draw interest from other clubs, which could prompt Gang Green to hand him the second-round tender worth $3.9MM (the original-round tender checks in at $2.4MM).

In related news, the Jets’ top decision-makers are not alarmed by the team’s seven losses in nine games, a number of which have been blowouts. Aside from his election to start Flacco over White, Saleh has adhered to the plan of getting as much playing time for young contributors as possible, and as Cimini observes, the Jets are on pace to give 9,000 snaps to their first- and second-year players. Of the 19 teams to hit that threshold from 2017-19, 13 realized an increase in their win total the following season (with an average of 3.8 more victories).

Of course, GM Joe Douglas will need to nail the 2022 draft — in which he is slated to have nine picks — but the organization expects to return to competitiveness no later than 2023.

Jets To Start Joe Flacco In Week 11

A third quarterback will take the reins for the Jets this season. Weeks after coming over from the Eagles in a trade, Joe Flacco will be given the nod against the Dolphins on Sunday, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets.

Flacco went from being inactive to being Mike White‘s backup. After White’s four-interception day against the Bills, Robert Saleh will give Flacco a try. This will be Flacco’s fifth Jets start. He appeared in five games and started four in relief of Sam Darnold last season. This will be Flacco’s 176th career start. Among players never selected for a Pro Bowl, that is first all time.

Zach Wilson suffered a PCL injury Oct. 25 and initially faced a two- to four-week timetable. Although the rookie has returned to practice, the Jets do not view him as being 100%, Cimini adds. This, along with a Dolphins blitz-heavy defense that limited Lamar Jackson last week, will lead to Flacco. A 14th-year veteran, Flacco did not see any time for the Eagles this season.

Saleh previously said the Jets’ quarterback situation would sort itself out organically, with signs pointing to White having a legitimate chance to keep Wilson on the bench. Despite White’s 400-yard day that keyed a Jets upset of the Bengals, the fourth-year passer’s stock has undoubtedly dipped a bit after his outing against the Bills. White will be Flacco’s backup in Week 11, keeping Wilson out of action.

Flacco, 36, completed a career-low 55% of his passes for a woeful Jets team in 2020, averaging 6.4 yards per attempt. He signed with the Eagles on a one-year deal worth $3.5MM in March. Flacco’s playing-time increase would be good news for the Eagles, who could see their trade compensation rise from a 2022 sixth-round pick to a fifth. Flacco would need to play 50% of the Jets’ offensive snaps in at least four games for the pick to move into Round 5, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Latest On Jets’ Quarterback Situation

Mike White is set to make his third start. The fourth-year quarterback, who left last week’s game with an injury, will retake the reins against the Bills. Joe Flacco will replace Josh Johnson as New York’s backup, Connor Hughes of The Athletic tweets.

While the White and Flacco dominoes are notable, Zach Wilson‘s status is the interest driver here. The No. 2 overall pick is running the Jets’ scout team this week and has not yet been deemed full-go from the PCL injury he sustained late last month. Initially given a two- to four-week timetable, Wilson will sit a third game. It is not certain he will regain his job upon returning to full strength, however.

Robert Saleh said Monday that Wilson would be back as the team’s starter once healthy, but the first-year HC has since walked that back. White, whom Saleh has said is giving the Jets a “clear blueprint of how this offense is supposed to run,” has a chance to keep the job and slot Wilson as the backup.

I think it’s going to happen organically. If Mike does phenomenal, like we think he’s going to do, that’s not weird, that’s awesome, to me, in the sense a quarterback is a precious commodity in this league and we feel we have four good ones,” Saleh said, via Hughes (subscription required). “I think it will all take care of itself. We have to let it play out.

[White] did wonderful during the [Bengals] game, did a wonderful job in the first quarter of that Indianapolis game. He is putting on good tape. There is an obligation, if he’s playing well and doing the things he needs to do, to give him the opportunity to continue on that.”

In producing the first Jets 400-yard passing game in 21 years, White inserted himself into this discussion beyond the emergency fill-in level. The Jets did not acquire a veteran quarterback this offseason, giving Wilson the job. The BYU product has struggled, ranking 32nd in QBR and starting his career with a 4-to-9 TD-INT ratio. The Jets now have two veterans on the active roster, with Flacco transported from the Eagles’ backup to the Jets’ QB2. Johnson is back on the team’s practice squad.

First-year Jets OC Mike LaFleur called Wilson’s injury-induced hiatus a “somewhat refreshing” break that will allow for a different perspective, via ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini (on Twitter). Should White retain the job once Wilson is healthy, that will mark an unusual demotion. First-round quarterbacks generally do not return to the bench as rookies after being given extended first-string run. In the previous 10 years, Paxton Lynch is the only first-round quarterback to make a start as a rookie and return to the bench without an injury factoring into the equation. (Though, Patrick Mahomes was given a Week 17 start as a rookie before reverting to backup status for Kansas City’s 2017 wild-card game.)

Wilson following suit could create a messy situation, Cimini writes, given his draft slot. For now, the Jets do not have to declare a full-time starter. But they will perhaps as soon as next week.