Robert Saleh doesn’t appear to completely agree with Mike LaFleur’s assessment that the New York Jets erred in making Zach Wilson their starting quarterback as a rookie in 2021.
The Jets coach stated that having Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 draft, start right away was indeed the right decision.
“If we’re really telling ourselves the truth and reflect back on Zach’s rookie year, he was the best quarterback in rookie and minicamp, he was our best quarterback in OTAs, he was our best quarterback in training camp, had a fantastic preseason … and he earned the right to be the starter,” Saleh explained Friday.
ZACH WILSON SCRAMBLES FOR A 52-YARD TOUCHDOWN! #TakeFlight
📺: #JAXvsNYJ on CBS
📱: NFL app pic.twitter.com/XPp2NNbquL
— NFL (@NFL) December 26, 2021
His comments came one day after LaFleur said the Jets may have made a mistake not having a veteran QB to compete with and mentor Wilson.
“In hindsight, it probably would have benefited him to just sit back and learn a little bit and watch a veteran and grow in this league,” LaFleur said Thursday.
Wilson started 13 games as a rookie (he missed four with a knee injury) and was 3-10. He threw 11 interceptions to nine touchdowns and was the ranked 31st out of 31 qualified quarterbacks.
He started only nine games this season (he missed the first three games after knee surgery) and has been benched twice for ineffective play. He has not improved his accuracy and his mechanics need an overhaul. He is again last, 33rd out of 33, among qualified QBs.
“He finished the (2021) season strong and there was a lot of promise coming into this year,” Saleh explained. “It hasn’t gone the way we wanted this year.”
Earlier this week, Saleh suggested that Wilson needed to “go to a beach … read a book … get away from the game … discover yourself.”
"I want to get him to the offseason so we can attack the plan we've been building. For him, it's all about '23."
Robert Saleh on the decision to start Joe Flacco over Zach Wilson in Week 18: pic.twitter.com/2d9WtpEdSi
— Jets Videos (@snyjets) January 6, 2023
On Friday, he announced that Joe Flacco, not Wilson, will start the season finale against the Miami Dolphins since Mike White is out with injured ribs.
“Putting him out there right now, it’s not going to do him any good, not going to do anyone any good,” Saleh said. “For Zach, it’s all about 2023.”
But would 2023, and for that matter 2022, look any different if Wilson had not been handed the starting job as a rookie? That is something the Jets coach and offensive coordinator may not be in lockstep about.