NY Jets fans were hoping to see quarterback Zach Wilson return in time for the team's Week 1 matchup with the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday. At the very least, the hope was that he could return by Week 2 or 3 at the latest.
Unfortunately, that doesn't appear likely.
Head coach Robert Saleh spoke to the media on Wednesday and revealed that Joe Flacco would start the Jets' first game of the season. But more importantly, he indicated that the earliest Wilson could be available is Week 4 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
This means that Wilson will miss a minimum of three games or roughly seven weeks after the injury first occurred. That's a far cry from the 2-4 week timetable that was reported and even more than the pessimistic 4-6 week timetable that some described.
It's hard to see this injury update as anything other than unfortunate news.
The NY Jets will be without Zach Wilson for at least three games
Wilson suffered a knee injury in the team's first preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles just shy of a month ago. Although initial fears were that the injury could have been a severe one, it was deemed that Wilson only needed to undergo a non-intrusive knee scope.
The Jets insisted that Wilson was on track to return in a timely fashion and there was some optimism this week after the second-year QB went through consecutive successful workouts on both Monday and Tuesday. However, that was seemingly just false hope.
It's far from a surprise that Wilson won't be ready in time for Week 1. That much was expected with the Jets refusing to rush their young quarterback back from injury. That said, seven weeks is more than pretty much anyone predicted.
The Jets' reasoning here is twofold. Saleh preached the importance of making sure that Wilson was ready both physically and mentally. That's the reason the team didn't place him on the injured reserve. They want to make sure he's practicing and getting valuable reps with the offense.
They also want to ensure that Wilson has full confidence in his knee before returning. There's typically a mental barrier that athletes have to overcome after returning from an injury like this and Wilson getting in those reps in practice will be crucial in allowing him to do so.
What the Jets are doing makes sense, although the communication on their end has been subpar. Perhaps they were employing a little gamesmanship to keep the Ravens guessing, but then it wouldn't really make sense to outright announce he won't be healthy until Week 4.
It's a weird situation, but it's reality. The Jets are preparing for life without Zach Wilson for close to the first month of the regular season. It's Joe Flacco season — at least temporarily.