Zach Wilson denies report of reluctance to start as QB1: ‘I never once said that to anyone’

Jets happy with Zach Wilson
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson responds to a question during a news conference after an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

FLORHAM PARK — There may be doubt that Zach Wilson can ever be a viable starting quarterback in the NFL, but he’s going to give the final five games of the 2023 season all he has. 

Speaking to reporters for the first time since being reinstated as the starting quarterback of the New York Jets, the former second-overall pick made it clear that his mindset was as strong as ever going into Sunday.

“It’s being aggressively smart,” Wilson explained. “When you see it, let it rip. It’s understanding when it’s okay to make a mistake and being aggressive and trusting. Trusting what you see.”

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) throws a pass during the first half of a preseason NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

It was the first time the Jets quarterback was able to speak to reporters since a bombshell report from The Athletic detailed that he was initially reluctant to return to the field after being benched two weeks ago for Tim Boyle. Boyle has since been released, and concerns over the health of the quarterback were a big part of the reason why it seemed he was apprehensive to return. 

Wilson made quick work of the report though calling it “frustrating” and denying ever voicing those concerns. 

“Absolutely Not,” Wilson stated when outright asked about the report. “…I’ve never once said that to anyone in this locker room that I wouldn’t want to play. That’s why we have such good backing. Everyone knows I care about this team, I’m going to do everything I can for the guys in this locker room no matter the situation. “

The Jets starting quarterback took over for Aaron Rodgers after the Hall-of-Fame quarterback suffered a torn Achilles four plays into his team debut. Since taking over for the four-time NFL MVP, Wilson has thrown for just under 2,000 yards while completing less than 60% of his passes and throwing for six touchdowns with seven interceptions. 

Rodgers’ relationship with Wilson has been strong even before the former Packer game to New York. On the Pat McAfee show Tuesday, Rodgers vehemently denied claims that he had spoken to Wilson in regards to changing his mind about starting. 

For his side, Wilson agreed that he didn’t need to have his mind changed by anyone.

“Me and Aaron talk every single day,” Wilson explained. “We didn’t talk about that necessarily. There was frustration from both of us but it was really talking about the gameplan.”

Jets quarterbacks having fun
New York Jets quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers, left, and Zach Wilson warm-up at the NFL football team’s training facility in Florham Park, N.J., Tuesday, June 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)AP Photos

It’s not the first time that it has seemed that anonymous sources have come back to bite Wilson though. Despite being taken with the second-overall pick in 2021, the BYU product has been benched three separate times in his NFL career for different reasons. Jets head coach Robert Saleh has specified that this year’s benching “was different” than the previous iterations, but it’s not stopping the rest of the locker room from focusing on their goal of beating the Houston Texans on Sunday. 

That’s a big reason why Wilson did not address the Athletic’s report to the locker room.

“I can’t say it’s been the first time we’ve dealt with it as a team,” Wilson said. “It’s definitely not a distraction for us going forward. I think it’s something we can put behind us and I think the locker room is in a good spot.”

New York has gone through four different quarterbacks in the 2023 season for the second straight year under Saleh. At 4-8, their playoff hopes hang on by a thread which allows Wilson to focus on “having fun” instead of the pressures of playing in a playoff environment. 

But as to why the team has chosen to go back to their young quarterback after seemingly casting him aside for the year? He still gives them their best chance to win.

“We always believed he was the best quarterback in terms of giving us a chance to win,” Saleh explained. “You know, Tim and Trevor, trying to spark the offense and all that and those two are very talented quarterbacks, don’t get me wrong, but in my opinion, Zach gives us the best chance to win.”

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