Well ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, New York Jets fans received a double-decker featuring both good and bad news.
The good news is Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson is finally returning to the lineup after missing the last four games to a PCL strain.
The bad news is the rest of the quarterback room on the active roster has imploded thanks to COVID.
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COVID-19 Rears Its’ Ugly Head
On Tuesday evening the Jets placed both Joe Flacco and Mike White on the reserve/COVID-19 list.
According to Connor Hughes of The Athletic, this is a “close contact COVID” situation and both players have already been ruled out this week for the road trip versus the Houston Texans.
We know Flacco isn’t vaccinated because when he met with the media last week he revealed that information. White’s vaccination status is unclear because he hasn’t spoken on the matter.
That means the Jets will elevate veteran Josh Johnson from the practice squad to serve as the backup.
The Return of the King
While that COVID situation is unfortunate, according to multiple reports that had absolutely no bearing on the decision to go back to Wilson.
He was fully cleared on Monday night to return to the starting lineup.
Wilson hurt his knee initially against the New England Patriots in Week 7 and then missed the following four contests.
The Jets went 1-3 during that run and we saw everyone from Flacco to White to yes even Johnson. Despite some of the high and low moments, this has always been about Wilson.
Gang Green head coach Robert Saleh continued to reiterate that he wouldn’t bring his rookie passer back until he was 100 percent. If we’re to believe the initial diagnosis, Wilson is returning right on schedule (he was supposed to be on the shelf for two to four weeks and he missed the last month).
Now that he is fully back, Wilson has a seven-game sample size to prove that things are going according to plan.
He doesn’t have to go 7-0, they don’t have to put up over 50 points per game offensively, he just needs to show he has learned during his time away.
White showed him that you can play boring football and win. He also showed that you can’t only do that, it has to be a healthy mix of both.
When Wilson was playing they were 1-4 and the offense was in a massive slump. With him returning in Week 12, things are a lot different than they were.
Elijah Moore has come into his own and has displayed star traits and Michael Carter has proven to be a stud in the backfield. Unfortunately, MC1 is on the shelf for a few weeks, but Moore is an engine that has been warmed up and is ready to go.
This is a golden opportunity with several lesser teams (Houston, Jacksonville, Miami) to show what he is made of.
This rookie season has been a hell of a roller coaster and the rest of the 2021 NFL draft class for the Jets looks good, but what happens with Wilson will ultimately define how this class is remembered.
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I hope Wilson ends up being a better quarterback than Darnold. (That is, i hope he doesn’t get badly injured before he ends up on a team where a quarterback might actually experience some success). I hope the Jets someday learn how to use the draft to improve the team. This team couldn’t draft or play their way out of a paper bag soggy with french fry grease.