Robert Saleh says Jets QB Zach Wilson ‘way ahead’ of last year

Robert Saleh says Jets QB Zach Wilson 'way ahead' of last year

After an ugly rookie season, the preseason was the time for Zach Wilson to display how much he’s improved.

But following a meniscus and bone bruise injury suffered in the first quarter of the first preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Wilson didn’t get his chance.

Before the injury, Wilson was shaky against the Eagles starters as he threw an interception after staring his receiver down before slinging it. Despite the results, head coach Robert Saleh isn’t concerned about Wilson’s development.

“Before the injury, he was way ahead of where he was a year ago,” Saleh said. “I know that first preseason game people put a lot of stock in those series which is warranted. But that first preseason game isn’t even close to what he’s been showing in OTAs and training camp.

“The way he communicates even now. Really excited about him getting a chance to get back to the football field to show how far along he has come. As far as the development and the course he’s on, we’re excited about it and we’re excited about his future.”

Following the injury, Wilson had surgery to trim his meniscus and missed the final two preseason games against the Atlanta Falcons and the Giants. Wilson has also missed valuable practice time on the field.

Saleh has said Wilson will play when he is completely healed, and Joe Flacco will start if Wilson cannot play Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens. However, this is a critical year for the second-year quarterback and the Jets organization.

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After an up-and-down season where he threw for 2,334 yards, nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions, Gang Green needs Wilson to show that he is indeed their franchise quarterback.

But it doesn’t sound like Saleh is too worried about Wilson despite him missing practice time.

“Anytime that you miss reps whether you’re the quarterback or two technique, it doesn’t matter, playing football is the best way to get better,” Saleh said. “Zach is doing everything in his power to stay as close to where he needs to be as possible.

“I fully expect Zach, when he’s able to start throwing, to get back into practice and to catch up pretty quick. He’s in every meeting, he’s in everything. I just fully expect him to pick up where he left off pretty quickly, so I’m not overly concerned about Zach.”

With a bye week in between the end of the preseason and the start of the regular season, many teams around the league have begun game planning for their Week 1 opponent.

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Gang Green started prepping for the Baltimore Ravens once the schedule was released in May.

“We are obviously in the meat and potatoes of it and revealing the game plan to the guys who are here and focusing on that,” Saleh said. “We are installing some of our stuff and we will revisit it over the weekend as coaches and finalize on Monday and get rolling again Wednesday.”

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The Ravens will present a significant challenge for the Jets on both sides of the ball. Not only does Baltimore have multi-talented quarterback Lamar Jackson under center, but John Harbaugh’s team also has former All-Pros Calais Campbell and Marlon Humphrey.

Another potential problem for the Jets is they will be playing against the Ravens new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald who came over after spending the 2021 season as Michigan’s defensive coordinator.

Macdonald previously worked in the Ravens organization as a defensive assistant and later as the team’s linebackers coach. While a lot of the same principles and formations may remain the same in Baltimore, Macdonald’s schematics will likely be different from previous defensive coordinator Wink Martindale, who’s now the defensive coordinator of the Giants.

“Week 1 is always a little bit different,” Saleh said. “Especially when you have a new coordinator, he’s coming from Michigan. He’s part of the tree, but he’s going to have his flavor for their defense.

“With Baltimore, everything revolves around Lamar and their run game and his ability to throw, the guy is pretty dynamic. I think Greg Roman does a really nice job from an offensive perspective of creating a lot of issues. It is always going to create a problem because you never know what the opposing team has brought in from a wrinkle standpoint, but the same thing has to be said for us too.”

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