Jets coach Robert Saleh denies report Zach Wilson is reluctant to return as starting QB

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New York Jets coach Robert Saleh dispelled a report Monday that said quarterback Zach Wilson is “reluctant” to reassume the team’s starting job.

Saleh said Wilson came to the Jets facility on Monday to make a pitch to play in the team’s next game Sunday against the Houston Texans.

But Saleh told Wilson he’s not ready to make a decision, which will come Wednesday when the Jets begin their practice week.

“Let’s be clear: if he was reluctant to play, he wouldn’t be here," Saleh said of Wilson during his Monday news conference. "I actually, coincidentally, got done speaking with him about a half-hour ago, and we had a really good conversation. The young man wants the ball. He wants to start. He believes he’s the best quarterback in the room and the best quarterback for this team, and the guy who gives us the best chance to win.

“And I’ll tell you guys the same thing I told him: I appreciate it. I appreciate the fact he wants to play. I’m just not there yet.”

Dianna Russini of The Athletic reported the Jets want Wilson to start again, but Wilson is “reluctant to stepping back in.” Russini added that Wilson is “apprehensive due to perceived injury risk” after Aaron Rodgers reached out to advise him to be the Jets' starter again.

Asked about the report on Monday, Saleh said:

“If that discussion had been had somewhere, again, it wasn’t with me. But if that conversation was had and it was somehow leaked out to the media, I don’t think that’s indicative of his mindset.

“The kid wants to play as demonstrated by what he did an hour ago. Again, I don’t know what to say to all of it. … Like I said, Zach wants the ball, and he believes he’s the best one for this team and the best player to get it moving.”

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) reacts on the sideline during the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at MetLife Stadium.
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) reacts on the sideline during the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at MetLife Stadium.

When asked if Wilson shared any reluctance, Saleh said: “I didn’t call him. He came into me, and he wants the ball. And like I told him, I’m not there yet, and I have some process I need to go through.

“I’ll never share all my discussions I have with players, but I’m just telling you guys, he wants the ball.”

Wilson has been benched in the last two Jets games, both losses in which backups Tim Boyle and Trevor Siemian stepped in behind center.

Boyle started against the Miami Dolphins in a 34-13 loss on Nov. 17 and was benched for Siemian in a 13-8 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

The Jets are 4-8 and in third place in the AFC East, ahead only of the 2-10 New England Patriots. If the season ended Sunday, the Jets would have the No. 6 pick in the 2024 NFL draft.

“At the end of the day we have to find something to score points and put the ball in the end zone,” Saleh said.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Zach Wilson not reluctant to return as Jets' starting QB, Saleh says