The New York Jets season potentially took a turn for the worst over the weekend, as second year starting quarterback Zach Wilson suffered a knee injury in their preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. He was hurt taking off outside of the pocket on a non-contact play when he tried to change direction to elude an Eagles defender.
He was diagnosed with a torn meniscus and a bone bruise, and underwent arthroscopic knee surgery earlier in the week. The procedure was performed in Los Angeles, and reports indicate that it went well.
The timetable for Wilson to return to game action is two to four weeks, which puts him in a race against time to be ready for the regular season opener on September 11 against the Baltimore Ravens. It will be interesting to monitor whether the former BYU star aggressively tries to get back on the field to play in the first game, or whether New York will opt for a more cautious approach.
If Wilson isn’t ready to play against the Ravens in Week 1, the Jets will likely turn to former Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco under center. The veteran spent 11 years with the Ravens, inclusive of a Super Bowl winning season in 2012. He won a Super Bowl MVP award for his 287 yard, three touchdown performance against the San Francisco 49ers. Flacco has spent the last two seasons with the Jets organization, serving as a depth option in case of injury.
He’s started five games for New York within that span, and has an 0-5 record in those contests. With the recent lack of success using Flacco under center, the Jets might also consider playing 27 year old Mike White to begin the year. He played well in a start against the Cincinnati Bengals last year, when the Jets upset the eventual AFC champions 34-31. White threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns in that contest.
With the lack of great depth options behind Zach Wilson, the Jets may look to do everything they can to get him ready for the Baltimore game. That preparation might also include a run heavy game script featuring rookie running back Breece Hall and talented second year reserve Michael Carter.
This is a big season for Wilson, who is looking to prove that he can serve as a long term answer under center for the franchise. He played in 13 games last season, throwing for 2,334 yards, with nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He is very physically gifted, but the Jets would like to see him take better care of the football and not try to force throws when they aren’t there.
While it may be too early to say that Wilson is an injury prone player, he did miss a few games last season with a sprained PCL on the very same right knee.
If he is not able to make it back against the Ravens, his next chance to play will come against the Cleveland Browns in the Jets’ first road game.