By Sam Joseph, CNN
The Jets traded for Aaron Rodgers during the offseason, but suffered a major blow when the four-time MVP went down with a significant Achilles injury just four snaps into his career in New Jersey.
Third-year signal-caller and former No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson was named the starter going forward and he experienced some initial success, leading Gang Green to a 4-3 start and upsetting the Philadelphia Eagles along the way, but the Jets offense soon stagnated and struggled to move the football.
From Week 8 to Week 11, the Jets went on a run of 13 straight quarters without a touchdown. That embarrassing streak was snapped against the Buffalo Bills, but Saleh had seen enough by this point and benched Wilson in the third quarter of the 32-6 loss at Highmark Stadium.
Life with Boyle at the helm hasn’t been much better for the New York offense, with the team losing their two games with the 29-year-old as the starter. Boyle was then benched for Trevor Siemian in a Week 13 defeat to the Atlanta Falcons as the quarterback crisis deepened.
‘The young man wants the ball’
Saleh was asked on Monday about who would be starting as quarterback against the Texans, to which he replied: “No, I’m still not there yet.”
He also denied reports that Wilson is reluctant to retake the starting position after being benched earlier in the season.
“Let’s be clear, if [Wilson] was reluctant to play, he wouldn’t be here,” Saleh said. “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. 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.”
Wilson has been sacked 38 times this season, per StatMuse, despite only playing in 10 games, and risk of injury under that physical duress is reportedly the reason that he is hesitant to return, something which Saleh said he empathizes with.
“We’re in a society now where kids miss Bowl games because they’re worried about their draft status, right?” said Saleh. “So empathetically, if that discussion had been had somewhere, and again it wasn’t with me, but if that conversation was had and it somehow leaked out to the media, I don’t think that’s indicative of his mindset. The kid wants to play.”
Seeking their first postseason berth since 2010, the Jets were given a glimmer of hope on Wednesday when Rodgers was cleared to practice, despite the initial expectation that he would be out for the remainder of the season.
However, it is still unclear when the 40-year-old will be able to return to the stadium field.
“This isn’t so much getting ready to play as much as it is a progression in his rehab,” Saleh told the media last Wednesday.
Even if Rodgers does make a miraculous comeback, it is unlikely to dig the team out of the hole that the Jets are currently in. New York sits at 4-8 on the season having lost five straight games and remain firmly on the outside of the playoff picture.
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