FLORHAM PARK, NJ — New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson the team announced Wednesday.
Initially, he was expected to miss one or two games. In explaining the decision, coach Robert Saleh said Wilson will not play until Week 4 “at the earliest.” The Jets face the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road that week.
This means the Jets will open the season with Joe Flacco at quarterback, starting Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens — the team that drafted him in 2008 — at MetLife Stadium.
“We’re going to make sure mind and body are 100% and make sure we do right by him,” Saleh said of Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick in 2021.
Saleh also said that playing Wilson now is “not worth the risk. There’s the knee element. There’s the mind element. There’s the practice element. There’s a whole bunch of things besides the knee.”
Wilson did not suffer a setback, according to Saleh.
On Monday, Saleh left open the possibility of starting Wilson, saying the second-year quarterback “looked good” in a sideline workout that day. In truth, Wilson was never a serious choice. That was just playability. He is only 22 days removed from arthroscopic knee surgery and has yet to practice with the team.
At the time of the diagnosis — the injury occurred Aug. 12 in a preseason game — it was considered a two- to four-week injury, sources said. Wilson suffered a meniscus tear and bone bruise on a non-contact play, the same knee he sprained last season — a four-week, non-surgical injury.
Saleh has said multiple times that Wilson will return to the lineup as soon as he is healthy. He missed 13 practices and two preseason games.
They could have placed him on short-term injured reserve, which would have sidelined him for four games, but they opted against that option because they want him to be able to practice while he recovers. He will not practice this week.
Flacco has not started a season opener since 2019, his first and only season with the Denver Broncos. This matchup probably has a special meaning because he will be facing the team that drafted him in 2008, the team that got him to a Super Bowl title after the 2012 season. He was replaced late in the 2018 season by the Ravens’ current starter, Lamar Jackson.
Flacco has lost seven straight starts, the last five with the Jets and the first two with the Broncos. His most recent win as a starter was on October 13, 2019, for the Broncos. He played well in his only start last season, throwing for 291 yards and two touchdowns in a loss to the Miami Dolphins.
This will be Flacco’s first game against the Ravens, who traded him to Denver after the 2018 season.