Sunday, November 14th, for week 10 of the NFL season, 26 year old Mike White will be at the helm as the New York Jets host the Buffalo Bills. Rookie quarterback Zach Wilson suffered a knee injury in week 7 against the Patriots and is expected to resume the starting role in week 11. Or is he?
Going into the season Zach Wilson, 22 years old, 2nd overall selection of the 2021 NFL Draft, was put into the starting role from day 1. The Jets did not bring in a veteran quarterback to start or mentor him. The plan was to let him get a full season’s worth of reps and allow him the time to work through all the growing pains. For the first 7 weeks of the season, pain would definitely be one way to describe how the Jets season is going so far.
Zach Wilson has thrown for only 4 touchdowns while throwing it away 9 times. He has completed 104 of 181 pass attempts for a 57% completion percentage. It has certainly been rough sailing so far for the rookie but in his defense the entire offense has played poorly and lacked consistency up until the past couple of weeks. Over the course of the 2 games which Wilson missed, the Jets offense has scored 64 points and amassed 997 yards of offense. Seems like a good thing. But is it?
Of course it is a good thing. The Jets have a rookie head coach, a rookie defensive coordinator, and a rookie offensive coordinator. Zach wilson is a rookie 22 year old quarterback and the Jets are the youngest team in the league with an average age of 26. Not only are the Jets in rebuild mode, but they have been plagued with injuries since training camp. The team isn’t even fully constructed yet for the Saleh and Joe Douglas campaign. In the next draft, the Jets have 9 picks in the first 5 rounds. So is the spark that we have seen in the offense of late a good thing being that Wilson has not been the one to lead it? Yes of course. Not only is Lafleur showing that the offense can work, but Zach is able to see what it looks like when it is working. Don’t forget that Mike White is in his 4th year and has been looking at NFL defenses a lot longer than Zach.
In the press conference on Wednesday November 10th, Coach Saleh said,
“best thing for a young QB is to watch, so there is no harm in either way”, referring to playing through it or watching. He went on to also say “We have the utmost confidence in Zach when he gets ready to play and back on the football field that he is going to do a phenomenal job. His talent is undeniable so there’s a great amount of growth that can happen whether he is playing or not.”
Saleh would state that the decision of who will start will be “day to day”. He would elaborate by also saying “It’s one thing if we had a QB out there that’s playing terrible. It’s another thing if there’s a QB out there showing the blueprint of how the offense is supposed to be run.”
So he was basically implying that they may not rush to automatically put Zach back in if Mike White continues to succeed because either way Zach can still develop. Coach Saleh said “Getting reps is vital. Watching good ball is vital.” If the Jets have a very good quarterback room, that is a good problem to have.