Jets’ Robert Saleh Explains Decision to Start Zach Wilson vs Lions

Mike White

Getty New York Jets quarterback Mike White has been ruled out for Week 15.

On the morning of December 16, the New York Jets announced a bombshell: Zach Wilson will be the starter in Week 15 against the Detroit Lions.

Quarterback Mike White was briefly forced from the Buffalo Bills defeat last weekend due to a rib injury but yesterday on December 15, he calmed fans by guaranteeing that he’d be able to suit up versus Detroit. One day later, that changed, and head coach Robert Saleh revealed the news during his Friday press conference.

Jets Change QBs From Mike White to Zach Wilson vs Lions

Saleh got right to it at the start of the presser, detailing a decision that he felt was best for the player and the team.

“Good morning guys,” Saleh began, “real quick with injuries — Quinnen [Williams], he won’t practice today [and] he’s still going to be 50-50. D-lineman don’t need to practice to be able to be ready for gameday, so we’re still hopeful but [it’s] 50-50. [Brandin] Echols will be out, Corey Davis is still in the concussion protocol [so] he’ll be out, and then Mike White [will] be limited at practice but he will be out [as well].”

Saleh stopped all of the reporters there and made it clear that he wanted to explain the White situation before everyone started to tweet about it.

“Sunday after the game, obviously it’s well-documented [that] he was taken to the hospital to get X-rays and all that stuff,” Saleh relayed. “All that stuff cleared, he got on the plane, everything checked out fine. Monday-Tuesday, same thing, get more evaluation [and] he was cleared for practice, which he has been doing. He feels fine, but our [team] doctors — and rightfully so — would not clear him for contact.”

The Jets HC continued: “Mike White, who is an absolute warrior and has been doing everything he could this week to try to find another opinion to get him onto the football field — to find someone that would clear him for contact — has exhausted every measure he possibly can because he wants to be out there for his teammates. That opinion will not change, and it’s gotten to the point where we could drag this out until Sunday guys, but this was one of those deals where we gotta do what’s best for the player and protect the player from the player. So he has been cleared for practice [but] he has not been cleared for contact.”

Saleh added that this is a “great opportunity” for Wilson, noting that they told him to prepare for Week 16 as if he might be called upon to start. “We feel very comfortable about Zach’s preparation as the first-string quarterback and that he’s gotten his normal workload [that] a starting quarterback would normally get.”

He would not confirm whether or not White’s ribs are broken, but did admit that the short week leading up to Thursday Night Football versus the Jacksonville Jaguars will make it a “challenge” for White to return in time for Week 16.

“We’ll reevaluate [on] Monday and see where we’re at from there,” Saleh concluded.

Zach Wilson Gets Chance at Redemption vs Lions

Since Wilson was benched, there has been a major divide within the fanbase. There are the White believers and the Wilson truthers, with a smaller contingent who fall somewhere in between.

Those in Wilson’s camp have argued from the get-go that the second-year prospect hasn’t faced a weak defense this season — the worst secondaries he’s faced in 2022 are probably that of the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Miami Dolphins, two teams he beat.

Wilson’s struggles, however, came against teams like the Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, and of course the New England Patriots — who were the only opponent that the youngster was not victorious against.

White on the other hand faced two lower-ranked units (Chicago and Minnesota), and both quarterbacks played against the Bills. Wilson won at home against Buffalo while White lost on the road in rough conditions.

Those are just the facts, and you can take them as you see fit.

Now in Week 15, Wilson finally gets his shot at redemption versus a low-ranked Lions secondary and there are no excuses if he’s unable to put points on the board. After all, at this crucial moment in the season, it’s now win or go home for Gang Green.

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