Zach Wilson will start for the Jets against the Texans Sunday in Houston.
That was expected.
What wasn’t expected was backup quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Mike White being placed on the COVID-19 list Tuesday, believed to be because of close contact to someone who has the virus or has tested positive for it.
Flacco is not vaccinated, which means he would have to miss 10 days if he tests positive. White, who is vaccinated, can return in fewer than 10 days if he has two negative tests 24 hours apart.
Wilson, who’s missed the past four games with a posterior cruciate ligament injury in his right knee, on Tuesday was medically cleared to play, according to the Jets.
If neither Flacco nor White is available for the game, Josh Johnson will serve as his backup, which means Johnson will have to be signed off the practice squad again.
The remaining barrier for the 22-year-old Wilson to clear was his own confidence in the knee in terms of planting, pivoting and running on it, according to Jets coach Robert Saleh. Wilson has been practicing with the scout team the past two weeks and on the past two Sundays, he’s done some rigorous pre-game workouts and looked strong.
“We’re going to make sure we protect this young man,” Saleh said Monday. “So, when he is fully healthy and he feels like there are no limitations in his ability to play football or he’s not thinking about that knee, we’ll get him out there. But he’s got to be 100-percent healthy before we get him out on the football field.
“He’s being evaluated. We’ll get him through another one [Tuesday] and be able to evaluate him from there and then we’ll be able to make a decision Wednesday morning.”
That decision was made Tuesday.
Now it’s time for Wilson to show improvement from his first six starts, in which the Jets are 1-5. He’s shown flashes of being the playmaker he was at BYU before being drafted second overall, but he’s been too loose with the football, throwing nine INTs.
Wilson, before he hurt his knee against the Patriots in Foxborough, Mass. last month, was 104-for-181 for a 57.5 percent completion rate with 1,168 yards, four TDs and the nine picks for a passer rating of 63.5.
Saleh last week said “structurally” Wilson’s knee was “getting where we want it to be,” adding, “It’s just more confidence than anything.”
It’s been an eventful few weeks for the Jets at quarterback since Wilson was injured.
White, who came in for Wilson when he was hurt in New England, engineered a 34-31 upset win over the Bengals in his first NFL start, throwing for 405 yards. White injured his forearm the following week in Indianapolis in the first quarter and replaced by Johnson, who threw for 317 yards and three TDs.
In the next game, a 45-17 home loss to the Bills, White struggled, throwing four INTs and was benched for last week’s home game against Dolphins, replaced by Flacco, who completed 24 of 39 for 291 yards and two TDs in a 24-17 loss to Miami.
Now, the Jets season returns to what it was supposed to be about in the first place — developing Wilson. Who’ll back him up is anyone’s guess at the moment.