Head coach Robert Saleh announced the positive development on September 28 as the doctors cleared Wilson for live football action. That means the end of Joe Flacco’s run as the starting signal-caller for now and Mike White’s likely deactivation on Sunday. The natural domino effect of a massive homecoming for Gang Green and its fans.
After recent comments from Bart Scott and others that the Jets shouldn’t throw Wilson back into the fire behind an injury-ridden offensive line, the next question is whether or not the knee is fully healed and the former first-round talent had a confident response on that front.
Jets QB Zach Wilson Voices Knee Is ‘Full Go’ in Week 4
“100 percent. I’m ready to go,” Wilson told the media on Wednesday. “Of course, the biggest thing is you just haven’t played ball in a little bit. [We’ve] been trying to replicate as much as possible so I’m just going to have fun with this process and get back in, and just give it my best.”
ESPN’s Rich Cimini also asked the question on everyone’s mind, will Wilson play the same way after the absence or will he favor his knee, fearing reinjury?
“No, I’m full go,” Wilson confirmed boldly. “I’m going to be playing ball how I can — if [a defender] comes up, make somebody miss, get out on the edge, extend plays when I need to. Hang in the pocket. I’m planning on being exactly how I should be.”
In other words, Wilson does not expect his unique skill set to lose any of its mobility and playmaking prowess after the knee injury, nor does he aim to change it.
The BYU gunslinger did admit that suffering another injury was “frustrating,” but added that he thinks every football player has to deal with ailments at some point in their career. “It’s kind of how you handle it, how you get back — prepare yourself to come back — and still play well with missing some time.”
Wilson will not be wearing a knee brace or sleeve during his first outing back.
Memo to Zach Wilson: Get the Ball out Fast & Be Ready to Move
It’s great to hear the potential future of the franchise present a strong message for fans upon his return, but it goes without saying that everyone wants him to play smart as well.
This offensive line is not in a good place right now, to put it mildly. The Jets have suffered a total annihilation of their offensive tackle room that began with Mekhi Becton and took out Duane Brown and George Fant along the way. The lone survivor is rookie Max Mitchell — a pleasant surprise at right tackle — and veteran Conor McDermott who was injured to start the season.
The Jets did bring in some more reinforcements at the position this week, signing Cedric Ogbuehi and Mike Remmers, but left tackle is not the type of role that can just plug in a newcomer without any experience learning the scheme and playbook.
Ogbuehi and Remmers are likely both nothing more than insurance, for the time being, meaning the Jets would trust in McDermott to start Week 4. You heard right, and so did Alex Highsmith and the Steelers pass rushers who are probably licking their chops in anticipation.
Wilson, on the other, isn’t worried. “I’m not concerned [about the O-line] at all,” he answered candidly. “It’s just one more opportunity for someone to keep stepping up.”
The young leader may have the right mindset but offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur must gameplan around running the football and getting the ball out quickly in order to succeed in Pittsburgh. As for the quarterback — just be ready to move or check the ball down if the first couple of progressions aren’t there.
It may not be as glamorous as “hero ball” but it’s the Jets’ likeliest path to victory in Week 4.