Jets’ Robert Saleh squashes report saying Zach Wilson is ‘reluctant’ to take over starting role again

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh squashed a report that Zach Wilson is “reluctant” to become the team’s starting quarterback again, as the team ponders what to do after Tim Boyle and Trevor Siemian struggled on Sunday.

Boyle, who started against the Miami Dolphins last week and the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, was benched for Trevor Siemian, who made his Jets debut in the second half. The Jets didn’t get anything done on offense yet again, resulting in a 13-8 loss to move to 4-8 on the season. 

A report from The Athletic pointed to multiple sources saying the Jets are leaning to putting Wilson back in place as the team’s starter — the role he had since Week 2 following Aaron Rodgers’ early departure with an Achilles injury in Week 1 — but the second overall draft choice by the franchise was “hesitant” to step back in the role.

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Zach Wilson and Robert Saleh talk

Zach Wilson #2 and head coach Robert Saleh of the New York Jets talk during warmups before the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at MetLife Stadium on September 25, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Saleh said that, after having a conversation with Wilson, the BYU product doesn’t think that at all. 

“Let’s be clear: If he was reluctant to play, he wouldn’t be here, all right?” Saleh told reporters. “I actually, coincidentally, just got done speaking with him. He came in about a half hour ago and we had a really good conversation. The young man wants the ball, he wants to start, and he believes he’s the best quarterback in the room and the best quarterback for this team and the guy who gives us the best chance to win.”

But, while Wilson said that to Saleh, the head coach isn’t locked in on a quarterback for Week 14 against the Houston Texans.

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“I’ll tell you guys the same thing I told him: I appreciate it. I appreciate the fact he wants to play. I’m just not there yet.”

There’s been on change to the results in the record column for New York since Wilson was benched. 

The Jets have lost five straight games, scoring only two offensive touchdowns. The latest came from Boyle against the Dolphins late in the game when things were out of reach already, and Wilson’s last to Breece Hall in a 32-6 blowout against the Bills. 

Zach Wilson scrambles

Zach Wilson #2 of the New York Jets scrambles during the 1st half of the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on November 12, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

New York’s previous offensive touchdown came from a Hall catch-and-run against the New York Giants on Oct. 29. 

Despite being benched, though, Wilson has stayed on his grind.

“He’s been very dialed in,” Jets linebacker Quincy Williams said of Wilson’s work ethic. “The biggest thing when you get one of those emotions, or your job changes, you see those people get down or be late for meetings and stuff like that. He hasn’t been doing that at all. He’s been in meetings. Actually, he was one of the first ones out before the game throwing passes and things like that. At practice, he made sure we were getting a good look as far as a defensive prospective, doing no-look passes and [giving] energy on the field.”

Whether Wilson will be back under center is up for however you’d like to interpret the wacky situation that’s going on at One Jets Drive. But Saleh’s words show that he truly isn’t sure what to do next. 

Zach Wilson after the Jets lose to the Bills

Josh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills and Zach Wilson #2 of the New York Jets meet after the Bills beat the Jets 32-6 at Highmark Stadium on November 19, 2023 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

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And with Rodgers back at Jets practice already, who really knows what the Jets’ quarterback situation will be as the regular season dwindles down here toward the end of the year.