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Jets' Saleh remains confident in Wilson, but acknowledges the QB must play better


FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Robert Saleh still believes in Zach Wilson. The embattled starting quarterback's teammates insist they do, too.

But with Wilson and the offense struggling mightily and the New York Jets already at a crossroads in Week 4, things need to change on the field — and fast.

“We all acknowledge he has to play better,” Saleh said Wednesday. “We all acknowledge that. He acknowledges it, teammates acknowledge it, he acknowledges it himself, but the key is to have confidence in yourself. You have to. And you have to continually stack good days.”

Those have been few and far between for Wilson on game days, though.

The Jets had Super Bowl aspirations with Aaron Rodgers leading the way entering the season, but that all vanished when the four-time NFL MVP tore his left Achilles tendon four snaps into his debut. New York rallied to beat Buffalo in overtime, but two losses and little offensive production later, the Jets are approaching crisis mode.

Many frustrated fans have tired of Wilson, but there are few other options at the moment. The Jets signed veteran Trevor Siemian to the practice squad Tuesday, but Saleh said he'll be inactive for New York's game against Kansas City on Sunday night as he acclimates himself.

For now, at least, it remains Wilson's job.

Even if the chatter outside the facility continues to get louder.

“Noise is noise,” Saleh said. "It’s like a double-edged sword. It’s part of why this game is so great, is there’s so much attention, whether it’s positive or negative. I’ve said it before, we’ve got a great locker room. Locker room is locked in.

“Is there frustration? Of course there is. Any time you lose two in a row, there’s going to be frustration. It’s the NFL. When you lose, it feels like the world is caving in. When you win, everyone puts you on a pedestal. But there’s still a lot of confidence in the locker room.”

The question is, how long can that be maintained? And if Wilson continues to struggle, a change at quarterback might be inevitable.

If it were up to Joe Namath, that would've already happened. The Pro Football Hall of Famer told “The Michael Kay Show” on 98.7 ESPN New York on Monday that he has “seen enough of Zach Wilson.”

It was rare criticism from the man who remains the face of the franchise — and still the only quarterback to lead the Jets to the Super Bowl.

“I haven’t spoken to Joe, but obviously Joe is an icon, a Hall of Famer and a well-respected individual in this organization,” Saleh said. “Door’s always open for him to walk in and my office is always open for him, but we’ll agree to disagree with his comments. But he is entitled to those comments.”

The Jets have the NFL’s worst-ranked overall offense, averaging 225 yards per game. Wilson has two touchdown passes and four interceptions, and is averaging 5.6 yards per pass attempt. The running game, led by Breece Hall and Dalvin Cook, is sputtering because teams are loading the box and daring Wilson to throw.

Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay held back a laugh and said, “Damn, that’s a tough question,” when he was asked by reporters in Kansas City what he sees from Wilson and the Jets’ offense.

“A team that wants to run the ball,” Gay said after gathering his thoughts. “Of course, man, that wasn’t to be funny or anything, but A-Rod got hurt and they turned into a team where like (it was) panic mode, almost. That’s what I see, at least. They’ve got great running backs, so now they’re just trying to pound and ground.”

Rodgers, healing at home in California, has watched the struggles from afar and said on “The Pat McAfee Show” Tuesday he didn't like some of the sideline antics between some players and coaches during the Jets' 15-10 loss to New England on Sunday.

Rodgers said said the Jets “need to hold our poise” and said the offense needs to “grow up a little bit.”

“He’s been around youth and he’s been around adversity and he’s seen it all,” Saleh said of Rodgers. "So for him to recognize that and talk through it, I think he’s not wrong in that when you have frustration, it’s easy to look for answers when sometimes the most important answer is inward. And that’s the only way you can defeat adversity is to look inward and find ways to be your personal best.

“As it pertains to what he said, he’s not wrong, but at the same time, it’s just a bunch of young guys showing a little frustration, but they’ll be all right.”

NOTES: S Tony Adams (hamstring) and OL Wes Schweitzer (concussion) didn't practice. ... Siemian said he didn't join the Jets expecting to play soon. “No promises were given or anything like that,” he said. “These guys had two quarterbacks. They needed a third quarterback and I had some good conversations and here I am. So I’m excited to get to work.”