The good news is the Jets officially have their starting signal-caller back from injury.
On Wednesday, Jets coach Robert Saleh announced that Zach Wilson will start on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers barring any setbacks. Wilson has been out since last month, suffering a meniscus and bone bruise injury in the preseason opener.
The bad news is the problems with the Jets continue to mount. The latest issue is the Jets offensive line. George Fant (knee) was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, which means he will miss the next four games (at Steelers, vs. Dolphins, at Packers and at Broncos). Fant’s injury comes after Duane Brown (shoulder), who was supposed to start at left tackle, was placed on injured reserve before the start of the regular season.
Gang Green’s tackles have been a revolving door since the start of training camp. In August, right tackle Mekhi Becton suffered a season-ending knee. That forced the Jets to sign Brown and move Fant to right tackle. Then Brown’s injury put Fant back on the left side, his preferred position. Conor McDermott, who replaced Fant during the Jets’ 27-12 loss to the Bengals, will likely start at left tackle with rookie Max Mitchell at right tackle.
Despite the Jets’ makeshift offensive line, Saleh said he isn’t concerned about Wilson coming off a knee injury.
“His knee is 100%,” Saleh said about Wilson. “As far as the tackles, we have all the faith in the world in the guys that we do have.
“Max is playing really well, McDermott has played a lot of football and it’s next man up. It’s a matter of just making sure everyone does their part.”
The Jets did add two tackles after adding Cedric Ogbuehi to the active roster as he comes over from the Texans practice squad. They also signed veteran Mike Remmers to the team’s practice squad.
With Wilson coming off a knee injury, he will be directly tossed in the fire in a critical year for him and the Jets organization. The team needs to find out if Wilson is indeed their quarterback of the future. With 13 games played in his career, the jury is still out on Wilson after tossing 2,334 yards, nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions as a rookie.
Wilson is returning to a Jets offense that’s been stuck in mud two of the first three weeks of the season. In the latest loss to the Bengals, Gang Green didn’t score a touchdown, and Joe Flacco, who started the last three games for Wilson, completed 28 of 52 passes for 285 yards, two interceptions, and two fumbles.
Not to mention, the Jets continue to shoot themselves with mental errors, whether it’s dropped passes, penalties, turnovers, or blown assignments in coverage. At 1-2 and with the upcoming schedule consisting of teams with a combined 8-4 record (Steelers, Dolphins, Packers and Broncos), the Jets will need to eliminate the mistakes before this season snowballs on them.
“It’s going to be a challenge for the protection system to hold up,” Saleh said about the Steelers’ defense. “[Cameron] Heyward, [Larry] Ogunjobi, they push the pocket, they play really hard.
“They’re relentless in their pursuit of the quarterback and they do a really good job with their coverage system. They give their D-line a chance to go get the quarterback.
“They’re a very experienced team. They’ve played together for a very, very long time and they’re very efficient in what they do from a down in and down out basis. It is going to be a big challenge for everybody.”
Steelers’ Mike Tomlin says Gardner has been “worthy of draft status”
One of the bright spots this season is the play of the number four overall pick, cornerback Sauce Gardner. Although Gardner doesn’t have an interception in three games, he has done a decent job covering some talented receivers, including Bengals standout Ja’Marr Chase.
Gardner’s play has even stood out to Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.
“He looks like a guy that was worthy of his draft status,” Tomlin said. “He’s been a plug-and-play player, he’s played with great confidence.
“He has an awesome feel for the game that was displayed at Cincinnati. He seems to bring it to Sunday ball. I don’t think there are many surprises there, but when you start talking about top corners in the draft, they usually come ready-made.”
After being carted off the field, linebacker Quincy Williams did not practice Wednesday. Williams suffered an ankle injury during the loss against the Bengals. On Monday, Saleh said Williams would be week-to-week.
Cornerback Brandin Echols was limited with a hamstring injury. Defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers (toe) also practiced on a limited basis.