Jets QB circus takes new turn with Zach Wilson, Robert Saleh “not ready” to name starter

Zach Wilson Jets
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) walks on the field during the fourth quarter an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

If the New York Jets weren’t a circus at the start of the 2023 season with their introduction to HBO’s “Hard Knocks” then they certainly are now. 

Following the team’s 13-8 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday afternoon that saw starting quarterback Tim Boyle benched for Trevor Siemian, head coach Robert Saleh has been reluctant to name a starting quarterback for the following week’s contest against the Houston Texans. 

It might not be the only reluctant decision made within the halls of 1 Jets Drive. 

Jets QB round-up
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson, center, stands on the sidelines after being pulled from the NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills during the second half in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

The Athletic reported Monday afternoon that the Jets were considering moving Zach Wilson back to starting quarterback after benching him in Week 11 due to poor offensive performances. Wilson, as reported by both Dianna Russini and Zack Rosenblatt, was reluctant to retake the field citing health concerns and the team’s 4-8 standing on the season.

“The team is leaning toward turning back to Zach Wilson to start but he is hesitant to step back into the role,” The Athletic reported based on team sources.

When speaking to reporters later in the afternoon, Saleh made it clear that Wilson had visited his office earlier and said “If he was reluctant to play, he wouldn’t be here…the young man wants the ball.”

New York’s head coach later said on the Michael Kay show that Wilson could have had some reluctance to play and told that to other players on the team, but it was not a message that was given to the coaching staff. Russini later reported that several players and team personnel had received word of Wilson’s reluctance, but Aaron Rodgers talked the quarterback into changing his mind. 

In case anyone is getting confused with the timeline of events on Monday, you can look at this helpful list below:

  • Wilson is considered for starting QB next week
  • Wilson is apprehensive about playing for a 4-8 team that already benched him and made him a scapegoat. He tells anyone who would listen to his concerns. 
  • Aaron Rodgers speaks to Wilson about changing his mind
  • Wilson talks to Saleh and tells him that he wants to play

As for Rodgers, Saleh said that “anything is possible, but don’t hold your breath” regarding the future Hall-of-Famer potentially returning to the field this week to play against the Texans. 

The Jets are also not at a place to name a starting quarterback according to Saleh either. 

New York is on their fourth signal caller of the entire 2023 season with five games left to play. It’s the third straight year where the carousel of quarterbacks has happened. As the Jets prepare for Week 14, they will have to choose from three backups that each have had their problems on the field this season. 

In two starts since taking over for Wilson, Boyle has thrown for 327 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions while completing 65.1 percent of his passes. Siemian came in for Boyle in the final quarter of last Sunday and completed 5 of 13 passes for 66 yards while fumbling three times and losing one. When Wilson was on the field for New York, the Jets had gone through 11 straight quarters without scoring a touchdown. 

Gang Green has scored just a single offensive touchdown in three of their last five games. 

Since Rodgers went down with his Achilles injury, the Jets have struggled to find a quarterback to successfully move the ball downfield throughout the year. For the most part, Saleh has been able to successfully keep the team together with the message of “controlling the controllables.”

That message seemed to crack a small bit after Monday afternoon. Whether Wilson wants to play or not, Gang Green is out of answers at the quarterback position. While it’s not the best look for the Jets to ask a quarterback they benched as a scapegoat for their overall problems to return to the field, it’s also not a very good look on Wilson’s part to show reluctance to play for a team when he could very well be trying out for another during the offseason. 

Jets struggles are those of their own making
New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh looks at the scoreboard during the second half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y., Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

The Jets are stuck where they are. Their plans for the playoffs were thwarted before the season even began, and now it’s up to the coaching staff and roster to show just how important this job is to them all. 

If Monday is any indication though, the circus has once again come to Florham Park, and there’s no guarantee that Saleh will be able to shield the team away from it this time. 

For more New York Jets news, turn to AMNY.com