Mike Tomlin Credit: Bill Moore photo

With a 1-2 record to start this season, the New York Jets will be on the road to face the Pittsburgh Steelers, also 1-2, on Sunday. The Jets were thoroughly outplayed by the Cincinnati Bengals at home at MetLife Stadium this past Sunday, losing 27-12.

“It is frustrating as hell,” said Jets head coach Robert Saleh after the defeat.

Quarterback Joe Flacco has been filling in for Zach Wilson, who hasn’t played since suffering a torn meniscus and bone bruise in his right knee on Aug. 12 in the Jets’ preseason opener. But the 37-year-old veteran may return to backup status this weekend as the 23-year-old Wilson, the No. 2 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, could be ready for the Steelers.

“Maybe you guys know more than I do,” Flacco expressed to the media after going 28-52 for 285 yards, throwing two interceptions and losing two fumbles versus the Bengals. “I’m going to keep my head down and keep working and keep doing all I can for this team…”

Saleh did not give any certainties on Wilson. “I’m expecting him back, but until the doctors say so, I’m just going to say he’s being evaluated.”

The 43-year-old Saleh, in just his second year as a head coach, would sign up right now for a career like the 50-year-old Tomlin has built. Since taking over as the Steelers’ leading man on the sidelines in 2007, Tomlin has never had a losing season and led Pittsburgh to a Super Bowl XLIII victory, ten playoff runs, seven division titles, three AFC championship games, two AFC championship wins and two Super Bowl appearances. He holds the NFL record for most consecutive non-losing seasons (15) to start a career.

That streak could end this year. The Jets will take on one of the more flawed Steelers teams longtime head coach Mike Tomlin has led. They have dropped their last two games and haven’t had steady play at the quarterback position. Gone is 18-year veteran Ben Roethlisberger, who retired at the end of last season. His replacement, Mitch Trubisky, the second overall pick by the Chicago Bears in the 2017 draft, has yet to lift the Steelers’ offense. They are averaging just 272.7 yards per game, next to last in the league, and only 18 points per game.  

Trubisky didn’t hold onto the Bears’ QB spot and wound up as a back-up last season with the Buffalo Bills. He was signed by the Steelers in March. The Steelers drafted quarterback Kenny Pickett from Ocean Township, New Jersey and the University of Pittsburgh with the No. 20 pick in the first round last April as their potential franchise quarterback. Many Steelers fans are already calling for the rookie to unseat Trubisky.

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