Zach Wilson will not finish the 2022 season as the starting quarterback of the New York Jets. He will end up playing in just nine out of 17 games. But if Robert Saleh is to be believed, Wilson will still be around and have a shot in 2023.
Wilson is currently No. 3 on the depth chart and will again be inactive this week against the Miami Dolphins. Mike White will start and Joe Flacco will be the backup. For those wondering about Chris Streveler, the Jets would have to sign him to the active roster if they want to use him this week. They have maxed out his three practice squad elevations this season.
However, Saleh is not giving up on Wilson and remains committed to developing the former No. 2 quarterback, saying the Jets will develop him “through hell or high water.”
“Zach has got all the talent in the world and we have all the confidence in the world in him, it’s just like I said from this reset, we’re going to grind with him, we are, and through hell or high water, we’re going to figure out how to get him to where we know he can be,” Saleh said.
Saleh also added getting away from football for a bit is something Wilson should consider to help him reset himself.
“Go read a book, go do something. Get away from this game, just reset. I think the greatest strength and greatest gift you can give yourself as a human is to figure out what’s important to you, what do you value and how can you stick to those values day in and day out. That is the greatest gift you can give yourself, is to discover yourself and I think Zach needs to get away, read a book, and figure that out.”
Saleh stressed patience with Wilson, who will be entering his third season in 2023, when asked if the coaches need to be more open about adjusting their scheme. Wilson’s fifth-year option is due in the spring of 2024. Saleh also mentioned other quarterbacks evolving their game, mentioning names such as Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes and even two former Jets, Sam Darnold of the Panthers and Geno Smith of the Seahawks.
There’s always going to be a challenge. There’s a patience aspect to it and I get it. If you love patience, why did you put him down? I get it, there’s things a lot deeper than it, but you can look back and say a lot of things on what ifs, but at the end of the day, a quarterback’s got to be able to sit in the pocket and he’s got to be able to deliver the football. That’s League-wide, period. That’s third-down, that’s two-minute, that’s where all the quarterbacks go from just chaotic, scrambling on first and second down, to making things happen and winning football games in third-down and two-minute situations, so he’s got all the cool stuff, we know that, but it’s so important for us, for him to be able to develop the pocket, the third-down and two-minute aspect of his game, which I think he’s going to. Just being able to progress and get rid of the ball, within timing, and that’s something when you look at a guy like (Patrick) Mahomes, what he’s done a great job evolving to. It was chaos early in his career, but he’ll sit in the pocket and kill you if you let him just dink and dunk you. He’s completely evolved his game, and for Zach, like I said, it takes time, you just see it all over the League where these quarterbacks hit, and especially this year. When you look at what Sam (Darnold) is doing in Carolina, doing a really nice job, and Geno (Smith) just from a relatable standpoint. These guys take time and we’re going to give them that time.
The Jets will likely still be in the veteran quarterback market this offseason, but it still wouldn’t be expensive to keep Wilson. He’s owed just $9.3 million over the next two seasons and has salary cap hits of about $9.6 million in 2023 and $11.2 million in 2024.
Saleh has been saying all the right things about Wilson lately, but the offseason will tell a different tale and it will be one of the more interesting offseasons across the NFL.