Among the battery of questions and issues Jets head coach Robert Saleh faced during his Monday afternoon press conference, none have more significance than the status of quarterback Zach Wilson.
Wilson injured his right knee during a non-contact dive in the team's preseason opener at Philadelphia on Aug. 13. A few days later, he underwent arthroscopic surgery performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles and has missed the team's first three games.
"We're looking for confirmation," Saleh said. "Once Zach's doctors clear him, he will be ready to roll, but we can't really be certain until he gets clearance. We should know in the next 24-to-36 hours.
"I wish I could tell you more, but it's just communication. They've [the docs] have been keeping tabs on him with his progress and activity."
If Wilson is ready to take over from his backup, Joe Flacco, Saleh said that the game plan would be tweaked a bit. "There's going to be some [different] stuff, we have a base game plan about how we do things. Then we start adding based on the players. He'll have plenty of time to get ready."
Though for the most part Wilson has been rehabbing with the team's trainers and strength staff off to the side while practice proceeds, Saleh said that he's been ramping up preparation.
"He's been doing a lot at the end of every practice," Saleh said. "We have what we call 'Flight School' where all the practice squad and third team guys who don't get a lot of reps have 7-on7's. He's been doing that with all those guys, getting reps and working drop backs and all we ask him to do."
Linebacker and defensive captain C.J. Mosley said that he, of course, is eager to get Wilson back on the field, adding that the games are bigger than a single player.
"I think it will bring some extra motivation when Zach is ready to get out there," Mosley said. "It's unfortunate with the injury, but it doesn't really matter who's at that spot, we have to execute regardless. If we're not executing as a team, it won't matter."
Flacco started the Green & White's first three games, connecting on 59% of his passes for 901 yards, 5 TDs and 3 INTs as the Jets compiled a 1-2 record against three AFC North teams, with the game against the Steelers completing play against teams in that division.
Too Many Downers on Third-Down
The Bengals, who came into MetLife Stadium on Sunday searching for their first win of the season, converted 50% (7 of 14) of their third-down attempts. Three of those conversions either led to (a penalty that extended one drive) Cincinnati scores.
"I believe this past week there were a couple of thirds that we got chances to get off the field and couldn't capitalize," Mosley said. "I don't know if it's the scheme or getting in the right positions, but we have to find ways to get off the field. We have to get off the field."
The early roughing-the-passer penalty called on veteran D-lineman John Franklin-Myers is viewed by some as an early game-changer. The Jets were trailing by 7-6 at that point of the first quarter and would have forced a punt had the penalty not happened. Instead, the Bengals drove down the field and scored ... on a 56-yard third-down pass from Joe Burrow to Tyler Boyd.
"We have to get it fixed," Saleh said simply.
"Yesterday the story with the defense was third down," he said. "On first and second downs, we were pretty good. On third down we gave up all three touchdown passes on some critical mistakes. We're about to get off the field and get the ball and the JFM penalty extends the drive. Then another third and they hit the crossing pass [to Boyd] that goes for touchdown on a missed tackle [on the same drive as the penalty]. The third from the 5 [a scoring pass to Ja'Marr Chase] it was execution, coaching and communication. It needs to be better. Right now, third down is an issue we have to get fixed. We have to get third down fixed."
See the best images from the Week 3 matchup between the Jets and Bengals at MetLife Stadium.
Coach Saleh said that LT George Fant continues to deal with a knee injury and is day-to-day. He was forced from Sunday's game and was replaced by Conor McDermott. Fant will not practice again until Thursday and Saleh said it is possible Fant would be given the week off. ... If there's been a bright spot on the offensive line, it has been the play of rookie fourth-round draft pick Max Mitchell, who has taken over at RT. "I love way Max Mitchell has played," Saleh said. ... Saleh reported that LB Quincy Williams, who was carted off the field with an air cast around his left leg, "dodged a bullet." Williams has a high-ankle sprain. "It's a week-to-week thing with him." ... And O-lineman Duane Brown, who is on IR, "is out there working and as soon as he clears IR [in a week or so] we'll get him back on the practice field ... but he looks good."