The New York Jets opened the 2022 season without starting quarterback Zach Wilson, as he continues to recover from a preseason knee injury and surgery. The results -- an uninspiring 24-9 loss to the Baltimore Ravens with Joe Flacco under center -- were not encouraging, but shouldn't remain Gang Green's reality for much longer.
NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported Sunday on NFL GameDay Morning that Wilson remains "on schedule" to return for New York's Week 4 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the timeline originally set by the team. In fact, Jets coach Robert Saleh told Pelissero this week that Wilson has looked "fantastic" in his return to practice in individual and 7-on-7 drills.
"I feel like he's ready," Saleh told Pelissero, "but I'm not a doctor."
Wilson was limited in practice all this week, about a month since undergoing a knee scope. Wilson had the procedure on Aug. 16 after suffering a bone bruise and a meniscus tear in New York's first preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles; the Jets QB was scrambling on New York's second drive of the game and went down with a non-contact injury. He didn't see the field for the rest of the preseason, resting and rehabbing in hopes of starting Gang Green's Week 1 game.
That didn't happen. Instead, Flacco started for New York, completing 37 of 59(!) attempts for 309 yards, one touchdown and one interception in the defeat. The Jets' lone TD drive came on their final march of the game, with the loss already in hand. The 37-year-old veteran's lack of mobility and mental mistakes overshadowed his prolific stats and relative ability to move the chains against Baltimore, and inspired fans in the stands and at home to call for Flacco to be replaced by backup Mike White. The latter had flashed success last season when Wilson and Flacco were both sidelined.
But Saleh affirmed this week that Flacco would be the Jets' starting QB until Wilson returned, using even more pointed language in private.
"It'd have to be a catastrophe" for New York to replace Flacco with White, Saleh told Pelissero.
White was 1-2 in three starts last season, completing 88 of 132 passes for 953 yards, five TDs and eight picks. His most notable appearance came against the Cincinnati Bengals, when his 405-yard outing against the eventual conference champions earned him AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. The Jets, for what it's worth, play Cincy in Week 3.
For now, New York has the Cleveland Browns, against whom Flacco is 17-3 in his career. The veteran is also 0-6 as a Jets starting QB. Something's gotta give for Gang Green's gunslinger on Sunday afternoon.