New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh appears to understand he could lose some members of the locker room if he continues to support struggling quarterback Zach Wilson into the first week of October.
“I’m big on addressing the elephant in the room and acknowledging and trying to have empathy for what people around me are feeling and be real,” Saleh told reporters on Friday, per the Jets’ official website. “There’s an old saying that you keep sweeping the poop under the rug, and eventually the smell is going to come through. So, you address it, you talk about it, and it’s not something you want to labor on. It’s like, ‘Hey this is what it is,’ and then you go back to, ‘Now what?'”
After Wilson produced a second consecutive dud last weekend serving as the replacement for the injured Aaron Rodgers, ESPN’s Rich Cimini (h/t Bleacher Report) reported on the “Flight Deck” podcast that “there’s tension” in the New York locker room because some Jets defensive players believe “if any other player was performing his job the way Wilson is performing his, that player would be benched.”
Additionally, noteworthy members of the NFL community such as three-time Super Bowl champion Mark Schlereth along with former Jets quarterbacks Boomer Esiason and Joe Namath publicly ripped Saleh this week for sticking with Wilson over even unproven backup Tim Boyle. Wilson responded specifically to Namath on Thursday and said he knows “we have to do everything we can to prove (Namath) wrong.”
Saleh seemed to send a message to the entire locker room during his comments on Friday.
“…The best thing you can do is focus on you as an individual, and focus on helping your teammates getting better, and just keep it inward,” Saleh continued. “And if you’re always looking inward, then…the outside stuff won’t matter.”
With journeyman Trevor Siemian on the practice squad until further notice, Saleh may have to go to Boyle during the “Sunday Night Football” matchup between the 1-2 Jets and 2-1 Kansas City Chiefs if the MetLife Stadium crowd boos Wilson off the field. Nobody within the Jets will openly say it, but Wilson could find himself playing for his future with the organization beyond Week 4 against the defending Super Bowl champions.