Head coach Robert Saleh wants to hear only one voice when it comes to deciding whether to start Zach Wilson when the New York Jets open the regular season against the Baltimore Ravens on Sept. 11.
That voice belongs to the medical staff.
Saleh clarified the Jets intend to prepare 37-year-old backup Joe Flacco as if he will get the call in the opener, but the franchise has every intention of playing purported franchise quarterback Wilson — out up to four weeks due to arthroscopic knee surgery — in that game if he’s cleared by team doctors.
“If Zach is ready to play, he’s going to be the Week 1 starter. If he’s not, Joe will,” Saleh said Thursday.
Saleh said Wilson is “already walking” following surgery in Los Angeles and a flight back to New Jersey to report back to the team facility on Thursday.
The 23-year-old Wilson will miss at least two weeks’ worth of reps by Saleh’s estimation, including joint practices with the Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants, plus preseason games against both teams.
Wilson, the No. 2 pick in the 2021 draft, missed time last season with a torn PCL in the same knee. He was 3-10 as a starter with nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
“If you want to get good at football, you have to play football. You have to practice football,” Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said. “That can’t happen for him, obviously. So he’s going to go and he’s going to attack it the best way he knows how. He went through this last year, unfortunately. He knows what to do, what to watch, what to say and what to do in the meetings. He’s going to make the most of the situation, just like we all will.”