The situation surrounding New York Jets starting quarterback Zach Wilson took a curious turn on Wednesday afternoon. On Tuesday, Jets head coach Robert Saleh refused to rule Wilson out of the Jets’ Week 1 contest against the Baltimore Ravens. Saleh’s tune changed considerably less than 24 hours later, admitting that not only would Wilson miss Sunday’s game, but the sophomore signal-caller won’t be available until at least Week 4 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
What happened to Weeks 2 and 3? It’s another twist in the tale. Saleh took a calculated risk on Tuesday that ultimately backfired.
It was a failed ploy of gamesmanship from Saleh. Saleh’s attempt at playing mind games was designed to force Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald to prepare for both Wilson and Joe Flacco. There would have been a competitive advantage for the Jets to be gained if the Ravens truly prepared for both quarterbacks. The issue is Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was never fooled into thinking Wilson could actually play Sunday roughly three weeks after undergoing successful knee surgery. All Saleh successfully achieved was enraging a passionate Jets fan base into thinking Wilson was nearing a return. Call it a youthful coaching mistake.
Perhaps Saleh never considered the ramifications of his decision. If so, Saleh underestimated East Rutherford’s swarming presence. He was intently focused on gaining a competitive advantage over a fierce Ravens squad that will enter Sunday’s contest as comfortable road favorites.
Saleh underestimated the anxiety-induced mood Jets fans are in after witnessing Wilson suffer a knee injury for the second consecutive season. Wilson sprained his PCL in a Week 7 defeat against the New England Patriots last season. It was the same right knee Wilson just underwent surgery on. That initial injury caused Wilson to miss four contests. Saleh’s initial proclamation that Wilson may play on Sunday provided the Jets with hope for their franchise quarterback. On Wednesday, Saleh proved it was false hope, and the Jets’ fan base has responded in appropriate fashion.
It’s worth acknowledging the Jets are absolutely making the right decision by taking the cautious approach with Wilson’s health. Playing Wilson against the Ravens would have been a detriment to his long-term health. It would have qualified as negligent given Wilson’s overall importance to the Jets. But this is more about Saleh’s public handling of the situation and his miscalculation.
Wilson underwent a meniscus trim in his right knee, which represented the best-case scenario heading into surgery. MRI results revealed an intact ACL, and everyone inside Florham Park’s headquarters let out a collective sigh of relief. Wilson was also diagnosed with a bone bruise. Wilson will continue receiving the rest his body requires.
Flacco is now confirmed to start Sunday against his former Ravens franchise. The veteran journeyman will also start under center against the Cleveland Browns in Week 2 and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3 (a primetime Thursday contest). Things will be touch-and-go from there.
The Jets ultimately arrived at the correct destination. Saleh just took an unnecessary detour. It’s a stark reminder of how relentless life in East Rutherford is for Robert Saleh and Zach Wilson.
- Oct 06, 2022
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