For the first time in his NFL career, Zach Wilson will be a healthy inactive on Sunday when the Jets host the Bears. Head coach Robert Saleh told reporters on Wednesday that Mike White will start and that Joe Flacco will be the backup against Chicago, but he also made clear that Wilson still has a future with the team.
"Zach's career here is not over," Saleh said.
In seven games this season, Wilson has completed 55.6% of his passes for 1,279 yards with 4 TDs and 5 INTs. After the Jets offense produced 3 points, 103 total yards and 6 first downs in last Sunday's one-score loss to the Patriots, Saleh said "everything was on the table" at the QB position. The Jets reached a decision that Wilson, who was 9 of 22 for 77 yards against the Pats, needed a step back.
"The full intent is to make sure Zach gets back on the football field at some point this year," Saleh said. "When that is, I'll make that decision. I'm going to take it day-to-day."
Wilson, who has a 5-2 mark as a starter in his second season, has been held without a TD pass in four of his starts. The Jets passing offense ranks 25th, averaging 201.5 yards a contest, and 30th in pass yards per play (5.82).
"The biggest thing with Zach and it's the same things we've talked about, is the young man needs a reset," Saleh said. "His decision-making has been fine, his practice habits and all that stuff have been fine, but there are some basic fundamental things that have gotten really out of whack for him."
Against New England in Week 8, Wilson threw for a career-high 355 yards, but was intercepted three times. He rebounded the following week in a win over the Bills, hitting on a career-high 72% of his passes and posting a career-high passer rating of 101.1. But he struggled a second time against the Pats as the offense couldn't find any rhythm throughout a tight contest.
"This is just an opportunity for him to sit back, focus on those things, find a way to get to reconnect to all those things that we fell in love with during the draft process," Saleh said. "And it's something I feel like he's going to be able to do. I think to ask him to do all those things while preparing for a game is unfair. But it's something, just talking with Zach, that we're all excited to attack."
The ever-positive Saleh remains upbeat about Wilson's long-term prospects
"Is it a small step back? Absolutely for him," he said. "But do I think it's going to be a great leap forward when he does get a chance to rest himself? Absolutely.
"This is not putting a nail in his coffin. This is not that, this is not anything close to that. But I do believe at the end of this he is going to be a rejuvenated, renewed young man that once he reconnects to all the different things we're trying to reconnect to – he's going to show why he was the second pick."
Wilson, a BYU product selected No. 2 overall by the Green & White in the 2021 NFL Draft, has posted an 8-12 mark in 20 career starts with a completion percentage of 55.6% while throwing for 3,613 yards with 13 TDs and 16 INTs. Wilson missed the season's first three games after sustaining a meniscus tear and bone bruise in the preseason opener against the Eagles. He made his season debut in Pittsburgh, leading the Jets back from 10 points down in the fourth quarter while going 10 of 12 for 128 yards on 2 TD drives in a 24-20 win.
"He's capable of so much more that what he's playing at," Saleh said. "The issues are for him are so fixable, but I think he just needs to reset to get those things fixed. We haven't wavered in our belief that he is going to be the future of this franchise — we have not. I have every intent to get him back on the football field at some point."