Jets hope to get boost from Zach Wilson’s return, beat Steelers
After taking a 27-12 shellacking against the Cincinnati Bengals last week, the New York Jets are in need of a spark.
Luckily for them, they’ll be getting one on Sunday.
Quarterback Zach Wilson is set to make his return and will look to lead the Jets to a better result against yet another AFC North foe when New York clashes with the host Pittsburgh Steelers.
Wilson missed the Jets’ first three games with a knee injury that he sustained in the preseason. He posted lackluster numbers as a rookie in 2021, tallying 13 touchdowns (nine passing, four rushing) and 11 interceptions.
If Wilson wants to make strides in the right direction during his sophomore campaign, New York head coach Robert Saleh knows he’s not going to be able to do it alone.
“It’s really just exciting for him to get back on the football field. It’s been six weeks,” Saleh said. “There’s a lot of different things that have to go around in terms of making sure that we run an efficient offense. From us as coaches, to (offensive) line, to receivers running routes, everybody’s involved.
“But at the same time, it’s not all about Zach. It’s making sure that we’re executing on all cylinders, as we should every week.”
In addition to the pressure that comes with his debut, there might also be an added sense of urgency for Wilson. The Jets (1-2) are already falling behind in the AFC East, a division that has suddenly become one of the strongest in the NFL.
The Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins have emerged as two of the league’s powerhouses, while the New England Patriots have seemingly always had New York’s number.
Pittsburgh (1-2) finds itself in a similar situation, and a 29-17 loss to the Cleveland Browns in Week 3 certainly didn’t help its chances of moving up in the standings.
The Steelers lead the series 18-6 though the Jets have won two of the past three encounters, including a 16-10 win in December 2019.
While all other eyes might be on Wilson, Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin is directing his attention to another part of the Jets’ offense.
“What is a consistent and regardless of who’s at quarterback is the running back tandem that they have in (Michael) Carter and (Breece) Hall,” Tomlin said. “They’ve been highly, highly productive. They utilize both guys in the running game, in the passing game. Increasingly significant components of what it is they do.”
Carter has 368 scrimmage yards in four career games against AFC North teams.
However, the Steelers might want to force New York to run the ball since their secondary is banged up. Cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon didn’t practice on Wednesday due to a hamstring injury, and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick was dealing with a concussion earlier in the week but is expected to play.
The Jets’ defense might also be limited on Sunday, as cornerback Brandin Echols (hamstring) and defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers (toe) were limited participants during practice on Wednesday.
Linebacker Quincy Williams (ankle) did not participate.
–Field Level Media