As the New York Jets have sputtered to a 1-2 start and as quarterback Zach Wilson has drawn criticism from Joe Namath, one of the franchise's icons, coach Robert Saleh was icy toward the legendary former Jet quarterback
Saleh said he has not spoken to Namath and was curt when asked about Namath's appearance Monday in a radio interview in which he blasted Wilson's performance.
"We’ll agree to disagree with his comments," Saleh said Wednesday of Namath during a news conference.
Namath, the Hall of Fame quarterback who played 12 seasons for the Jets from 1965-76 and delivered the team's lone Super Bowl championship, has remained loyal to the franchise. Namath spoke positively of the offseason the Jets had after trading for star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, though his opinion has soured since Rodgers suffered a torn his Achilles tendon in the first Jet offensive drive of the season.
"I've seen enough of Zach Wilson, all right," Namath said Monday on ESPN New York's "The Michael Kay Show" after the Jets lost to the New England Patriots 15-10 at home. "I've seen enough. Has quick feet, can throw a little bit, but I don't believe what's going on up there.
"I'm saying I don't believe in him," Namath continued. "I don't believe he has a future as a good player and I think they made a wrong choice when they drafted him."
Namath was also critical of Saleh, Jets general manager Joe Douglas and offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett.
Namath had previously even offered to allow Rodgers to wear his No. 12 jersey with the Jets, which had been retired after Namath's illustrious career and which is the same number Rodgers wore during his 18 seasons with the Packers.
"That goes for our fan base and former players as well," Rodgers said. "You're not helping the cause."
Robert Saleh supports Aaron Rodgers' take on Jets' struggles
During his appearance on "The Pat McAfee Show," Aaron Rodgers offered his perspective on New York's issues.
"I think we need to hold our poise a little bit better, really just offensively," Rodgers said Tuesday. "We need to not have some of those things happen on the sideline and to be a little better, just be a little better competitors. We need to understand this is part of it. It's not always gonna be pretty the most important thing is winning."
On Wednesday, Saleh supported that stance and downplayed there being a larger issue in the Jet locker room.
"He's seen it all," Saleh said of Rodgers. "For him to recognize that and talk through it he's not wrong. When you have frustration, it's easy to look for answers when sometimes the most important answers are inward. That's the only way you can defeat adversity.
"He's not wrong but at the same time it's just a bunch of young guys just showing a little frustration. They'll be all right."
How has Zach Wilson performed in relief of Aaron Rodgers?
Wilson, 24, was the No. 2 overall selection in the 2021 NFL draft. He has struggled to find consistency and rhythm in New York's offense and his footwork, ball placement and decision making have all been below average.
Since Rodgers went down with the Achilles injury, Wilson has just completed 52.4% of his passes — which would mark a career low — for 467 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions. He has faced constant pressure from an ineffective offensive line and appears to be rushed and unsettled in the pocket.
The Jets won the season opener against the Bills after Wilson helped erase a 10-point deficit to extend the game into overtime, but New York has dropped the following two games, against the Cowboys and Patriots.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jets coach Robert Saleh responds to Joe Namath's criticism