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Robert Saleh Can’t Even Convincingly Endorse Zach Wilson Anymore

Zach Wilson is sacked during the Patriots-Jets game.
Elsa/Getty Images

Robert Saleh expected to be praising Aaron Rodgers all season long. But his quarterback's Achilles tendon snapped like a dried-out rubber band in Week 1, and now the Jets head coach is in the familiar role of supporting Zach Wilson, the frequently overwhelmed QB whom the Jets drafted second overall in 2021.

NFL coaches aren't the most creative when it comes to giving the press some soundbites. Most of them are stuck with what they have at quarterback, so they'll have to try and focus on what the player did right in hopes that it diverts attention from what he did wrong. In the case of the Jets' 15-10 loss to the Patriots on Sunday, a game in which Wilson went 18-for-36 passing for 157 yards and no touchdowns, Saleh had very little to work with. His best attempt at a compliment for Wilson: "Right now, Zach is the best player in the, uh ... he's who gives us the best chance to win."

There's a telling pause in Saleh's answer. The public has three games' worth of evidence this season that "Zach Wilson" and "best" are not two concepts that should be anywhere near each other, and he knows it. Instead, Saleh settles for "best chance to win," which could even be true with what's in the Jets' QB room, but the coach's demeanor indicates that his heart doesn't fully believe it.

Wilson did not show anything resembling a chance to win yesterday until the middle of the fourth quarter, a drive that ended with the team's only touchdown of the day. The next time the offense took the field, Wilson threw two incomplete passes and took a sack for a safety. The Jets defense gave the offense two more chances to potentially score after that; one drive ended with Wilson throwing a fourth-down pass eight yards short of the sticks, and the other was a game-ending Hail Mary attempt that couldn't be gathered by Randall Cobb.

The Jets are 1-2, which means the season is still quite young. The defense will keep this team in games. All they need is just something, anything, at quarterback. Rodgers was supposed to be it until the season-ending injury. Wilson is not it. He's drifting around the bottom of the QB stats, among Justin Fields, Ryan Tannehill, and some guys who have played half a game. His 52.4 completion percentage is dead last among all starters. The accuracy is bad. The pocket presence is nonexistent at times. He's no longer a rookie, so this can't even be attributed to a lack of experience. Meanwhile, former Jets QB Mike White threw a deep touchdown to former Jets WR Robbie Chosen in garbage time of the Dolphins' 70-20 win over the Broncos.

Maybe backup-backup Tim Boyle is not the answer to the Jets' problem, but it would be futile to stay the course. The ghosts of Carson Wentz and Matt Ryan have reportedly knocked on the door offering their services, but the Jets declined both. That's the devastating followup question here: Is there anyone available who's better than this guy?

At this point, it has to be worth the gamble. The only compliment you can give Wilson about Sunday's game is that until the sack-safety, he did a good job of not turning the ball over. If the Jets want to chase the playoffs, they'll need a higher bar than that. Wilson might give the team the best chance to win over the bargain bin, but that chance to win is so low that no one can get all that fired up about it, not even the man paid to do so.

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