If the Jets have what it takes to defeat the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday, head coach Robert Saleh said that QB Zach Wilson needs to match or surpass his outstanding performance in last week's emphatic victory over Houston.
"I don't know if challenge is the right word," Saleh told reporters before heading out to practice on Wednesday. "It's just wash and repeat. He has confidence in his ability, confidence in his teammates and confidence in the coaches. He has the ability to take a game over when he's clicking. In my mind, he needs to have continued confidence and swag, and play with a let it rip mentality."
That "let it rip" mentality was on full display against the Texans, particularly in the second half when the Jets scored all 30 of their points as Wilson completed 18-of -21 passes for 209 yards and 2 TDs, as the Green & White hit the end zone on their first two possessions of the second half.
"No matter how confident you are there's nothing that boosts confidence more than affirmation," Saleh said. "I imagine having the game he had is a new level of confidence for him I don't think he realized he had. He dominated in the rain with over 300 yards passing, no interceptions. Working off-schedule he did a lot of things on his own and did a lot of things that made everyone around him better."
After spending two games as the team's No. 3, emergency quarterback while the Jets cycled through Tim Boyle and Trevor Siemian before Saleh went back to the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Wilson put together what was arguably his best game as a professional. As confident as Wilson is, Saleh said that his teammates have always believed in him.
"The players, they know," Saleh said. "As I've said, it's way different than a year ago. He has confidence in himself. He's been performing in practice and the players see his talent and how far he's come. They're all super excited for him to be able to piece it together, and now he gets an opportunity to do it again.
"He prepares the right way, brings the right energy to practice stuff, but it's always great to have it happen in a game. I'm talking about the hard stuff that he made happen. He was outstanding."
After being replaced in the Jets' 32-6 loss at Buffalo in Week 11, Wilson watched as Boyle and the Jets were overrun by the Dolphins, 34-13, in Week 12. Then, in the team's fifth-straight loss, Saleh replaced Boyle with Siemian in the fourth quarter vs. the Falcons, which led eventually to Wilson returning as the starter against the Texans.
Speaking about the first loss to Miami, Saleh said: "We had some missed opportunities, some unfortunate situations. Overall, they definitely got the better of us."
Within the division, the Jets enter the Week 15 game with a 1-3 record (a split with Buffalo; losses to Miami and New England) with a shot at ending the regular season with a .500 record in the AFC East. Saleh has said he will stick with Wilson at QB for the rest of the regular season, which concludes at New England on Jan. 7.
"We're always evaluating one another every day," Saleh said. "Consistency is the true measure of performance. He [Wilson] prepares the right way. It's about having confidence in yourself, what you see, then let it rip. Usually good things will happen. Hopefully he'll be able to do it again."
HCRobert Saleh said that O-linemen Carter Warren (hip) and Max Mitchell (shoulder) would not practice on Wednesday. ... Asked about QB Aaron Rodgers, Saleh said that "he's ramping up every day, he's in rehab and progressing," and responded to a question if Rodgers would soon be activated: "I have no answer now."