Robert Saleh praises James Morgan, but not ready to name backup QB

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The battle to be the Jets’ backup quarterback is a three-way fight between veteran Josh Johnson, the inexperienced James Morgan and Mike White. But through three preseason games, Robert Saleh doesn’t appear ready to name Zach Wilson’s backup.

It sounds like Saleh won’t pick Johnson despite a solid preseason finale. The journeyman played an efficient half against the Eagles after completing 7-8 passes for 73 yards and a touchdown, but Saleh had more praise for Morgan and his fourth-quarter comeback.

“If we don’t fumble that ball [late in the fourth-quarter] I really believe [Morgan]’s putting us in field goal range and we’re going to get a kick off with [Matt] Ammendola and win the game,” Saleh said Friday night. “That’s the way he was operating. That’s the way he was moving.”

Morgan went 13-23 for 158 yards, two touchdowns – both to tight end Kenny Yeboah — and one interception. The first score was a 21-yard strike to Yeboah, while the second touchdown came on a magical 60-yard Hail Mary pass. That gave the Jets a chance to tie the game, which they did on a Josh Adams two-point conversion.

“To show the grit to get us all the way down there and obviously to throw a 60-yard shot into the end zone was pretty cool,” Saleh said.

The backup quarterback job has been a hot topic all offseason and training camp because of the inexperience of Morgan and White. Joe Douglas brought Johnson in as a pseudo mentor for the young trio of Wilson, Morgan and White, but he likely isn’t in contention for a roster spot. Saleh sounds like he wants to stick with and develop the young quarterbacks rather than place a veteran behind Wilson.

Only Morgan played all three preseason games after White sat out the Eagles game, but he didn’t have a great summer prior to Friday’s tie. He only completed 6-12 passes for 48 yards against the Giants and Packers, while White went 20-28 for 166 yards in those games.

The Jets have a few days before they need to trim the roster to 53 players. The coaching staff must decide if it wants to head into the season with two or three quarterbacks. It’s a tough decision, but one that would only influence the Jets’ record if something happens to Wilson.

“We thought they all got better as the entire camp went along,” Saleh said. “I thought they all progressed pretty well. Now we’re going to evaluate.”

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