Jets head coach Robert Saleh said on Monday that "for sure" rookie quarterback Zach Wilson would start against the visiting AFC East-leading Buffalo Bills on Sunday, but with the qualification of if he's "fully healthy." And that determination will not be made until after practice on Wednesday.
"If he's fully healthy, for sure, he will start, but again, we'll see how he is," Saleh said. "We're not in any hurry to rush him back. His is a 2-to-4 week injury and we're going into Week 3. He has a couple of hurdles he has to pass yet. If he is not fully healthy it would be irresponsible for us to throw him out there."
"We'll have a decision on Wednesday once we get all the information."
Wilson has missed two games after sustaining a PCL (posterior cruciate ligament) injury to his right knee at New England. His backup Mike White threw for 405 yards and 3 TDs in the Jets' victory over Cincinnati, but was injured in the first quarter of last Thursday's loss at Indianapolis. He sustained a nerve contusion in his right arm on his 19-yard TD pass to Elijah Moore.
"Mike has taken advantage ... one of great things about this league is that you do get guys who come out of nowhere, showcase who they are and that they belong," Saleh said, referring to White, a backup in his four years in the NFL. "I have a great appreciation for what Mike is going through. It would be really cool to take a moment and appreciate what Mike is going through and the opportunity he's been presented with. Does it mean anything for the future? I don't know. But it's been really good that Mike has taken advantage of the opportunity and let's see how he does."
Saleh said that he expects all four of the Green & White's quarterbacks -- Wilson, White, Josh Johnson (who was 27 of 41 with 3 TD passes in relief of White vs. the Colts) and the recently acquired Joe Flacco -- to participate in practice on Wednesday.
"There are hurdles to pass," the coach said, referring to the injuries sustained by Wilson and White.
"Whoever is starting will get all the reps [on Wednesday]," Saleh said. "He has to. But we also have show-team reps, walk-through reps, there's a lot to go around. In practice we usually have 500 reps a week in all the different things we do. There's plenty to go around so when the time comes they're ready to play football."
Saleh assured members of the media that he make a midweek announcement.
"Sure. Yeah there's nothing to hide," he said. "It's not like there'll be a difference of opinion."
HC Has Confidence in DC
The Jets' defense was scorched by the Colts for 532 total yards last week, 260 yard rushing with about 200 rushing yards gained before a defensive player made first contact. And with Buffalo and its high-powered offense coming to town -- albeit after an uncharacteristic down day in a 9-6 loss at Jacksonville on Sunday, Saleh said that he has full confidence in defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich and the players getting things fixed.
"I'd imagine Buffalo is going to be really upset after watching that tape," Saleh said. "They have an explosive offense that can go off at any time. And they have talent everywhere and [QB] Josh [Allen] is a modern day Ben Roethlisberger."
The Colts handled the Jets' defensive line, one of the team's pillars, getting to the second level before Jets defenders could respond.
"Brick [Ulbrich] and his staff are doing a nice job," Saleh said. "We have to get things tighter. When you give up 260 yards rushing, 200 before contact, it's not just on the players. The players have to understand how space was created so they can close it. The staff is doing a nice job, the players are doing a nice job. We just had two bad games against two good offenses.
"The D-line has to hold up. There is a run-pass conflict at the second level. This is their first year in this system, so for sure, in some games the keys have been better than others. The last game obviously wasn't nearly as good as it needs to be."
Young DBs Will Miss Marcus Maye
The season-ending Achilles tendon injury sustained by veteran safety Marcus Maye at Indianapolis has left the Jets' young secondary minus an experienced and vocal leader for the final 10 games of the 2021 NFL season.
"Oh man, that's tough," second-year CB Bryce Hall said on Monday. "He's a great teammate, a really good leader, somebody who we're going to miss, especially on the back end. My heart goes out to Marcus. I think any time you've got someone who's been in the league ... we're a bunch of young guys. He's a vet, but he's not going to go away. He'll be here for us for sure through the course of this season."