The Jets added lots of pieces this offseason to help young quarterback Zach Wilson take a leap in 2022. But that leap won't occur until maybe the fourth week of the season. Joe Flacco will be New York's starting signal-caller for Sunday's Week 1 game against the Ravens, coach Robert Saleh announced Wednesday, while Wilson recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery. Not only that, but Wilson will not be available until Week 4 at the earliest.
"To be honest with you guys ... the earliest he's gonna be available is Pittsburgh," Saleh said, referencing the Jets' Week 4 game against the Steelers. "That's gonna be the earliest. Now can it change? Sure, I'm always gonna leave that door open. You guys know me, I'm the eternal optimist. But we are gonna make sure that both mind and body are 110 percent and make sure we do right by him, and we feel like, talking to the doctors, it's gonna be that Pittsburgh week."
The Week 1 news is not wholly surprising, considering Saleh previously said Wilson will not play until he's 100 percent healthy. Saleh had left the door open for the young QB to return in time for this Sunday, however. The anticipated three-week absence is also a notable big-picture development, as the Jets look for Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 draft, to improve on a forgettable rookie season.
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The second-year QB suffered a torn meniscus and bone bruise during New York's preseason opener against the Eagles, and his subsequent surgery on Aug. 16 was initially expected to sideline him anywhere from two to four weeks.
Now, it's Flacco's job, starting with a Week 1 matchup against his old team, the Ravens, who employed the 37-year-old as their starter from 2008-18. The veteran reserve started one game in place of an injured Wilson in 2021, and he also started four games for Sam Darnold in 2020. His last time opening the season under center came in 2019, when he started eight games for the Broncos before suffering a neck injury.
"He should be (a starter), in my opinion," Saleh. "He could start in this league, I believe that. Sometimes this league has a tendency to pigeonhole people, or put labels on people, and then their opportunities kind of get limited. But Joe Flacco is a starting quarterback in this league. He's really, really talented."