FLOURHAM PARK, NJ — The New York Jets are heading into their mini-bye — and maybe further — with a key quarterback question.
Trapped Zach Wilson appears to have lost the confidence of coach Robert Salih, who was non-committal on Friday in his Week 17 quarterback plans. Wilson could be sued again even if Mike White is not cleared to face the Seattle Seahawks on Jan. 1 due to broken ribs.
“We have time,” Saleh said, violating an opportunity to assert Wilson’s status. “I don’t have those answers for you yet.”
Other Jets options are Joe Flacco and coaching staff quarterback Chris Streffler, who ignited the offense, albeit briefly, in a relief role Thursday night during a 19-3 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Wilson played so poorly that he was booed throughout the game and spent the last 18 minutes on the bench, watching Streveler, a major in his first season, energize the team and the MetLife Stadium crowd.
The Jets (7-8) have fallen four straight times and Saleh admitted their chances of making the playoffs are “far off,” but Wilson’s future remains a hot-button issue.
On Friday, Salih was listless on Wilson, the second pick in 2021. When asked if he was still confident that Wilson is the franchise’s quarterback in the future, Salih said, “We’ll never give up on anyone. I got confidence in all of our guys.” .
It was a markedly different stance from Salih, who usually gave Wilson excessive praise.
White will be reassessed early next week with more rib sweeps. If he is allowed to connect, he will almost certainly start against the Seahawks. Saleh has not named a permanent player since hiring Wilson on November 23, saying it is a week-to-week assessment.
On Friday, Salih admitted Wilson was struggling from a mental point of view.
“That’s a good question,” Saleh said, whether Wilson had lost his confidence. “I’m with you. It’s hard to try to beat him, but-but-it doesn’t take much to overturn confidence. He just needs to run a little bit.”
Against the Jaguars, Wilson was 9-for-18 for 92 yards, which led to just three points on seven possessions—and the field goal was a gift because New York got the ball at the Jacksonville 16 after a turnover.
In an effort to spark a lethargic fast attack, Saleh inserted the portable Strefiller, which had been upgraded from the pre-match training squad. Streveler immediately led a 76-yard drive that eventually fumbled, but did enough to stay in the game. He ended up rushing for a team-high 54 yards and completed 10 of 15 passes for 90 yards.
Flaco, who was also active, didn’t see any action.
Wilson, who ranks 28th out of 33 qualifying passers in total QBR (37.5) this season, admitted that it’s hard to watch another quarterback ignite the offense.
“It is,” he said, “and that’s when I have to look at myself in the mirror.” “I’ve got to go back and I’ve got to go back and watch this tape. You gotta be tough. You gotta be tough on yourself. You just say, ‘Why don’t we drop a ball?’ And that starts with me. Whatever it is, I must find it out.”
Statistically, the offense was more effective with White, Flacco, and even Streveler than with Wilson. Offensive coordinator Mike Lafleur declined to comment on the reason.
“I’m not going to answer that question,” LaFleur said Friday. “I’m not trying to compare Zach to all the other guys. I have to figure it out and figure out a way to get him into rhythm, and I haven’t.”
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