The New York Jets will start Zach Wilson at quarterback on Sunday against the Houston Texans and “God willing” for the rest of the season, New York Jets coach Robert Saleh said Wednesday.
Saleh added that Trevor Siemian, who replaced Tim Boyle in Sunday’s loss to the Falcons, will serve as the backup, and newly signed Brett Rypien will be the emergency quarterback this week. The Jets waived Boyle on Tuesday and signed Rypien off the Seattle Seahawks’ practice squad.
Multiple team sources said Monday that the team was leaning toward returning Wilson but he was hesitant to return to that role.
Saleh said Wednesday that Wilson was “excited” and excited about the opportunity.
“We always thought he was the best midfielder in terms of giving us the opportunity to win,” Saleh said. He added that the team turned to Boyle and Simian to try to find the spark.
New York benched Wilson three weeks ago in a 32-6 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Boyle started the Jets’ last two games, but the team cut him out of Sunday’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons after a poor second week of play, replacing him with veteran Siemian.
Wilson said it’s been a “challenging year” and he’s excited to play. He denied that he was reluctant to return to the starting lineup, adding that he did not feel the need to address the matter with the team on Wednesday.
“I’ve had the support since day one. That’s why I love this team so much,” Wilson said. “I want to play for these guys. “I would do anything for these guys.”
The Jets (4-8) have lost five straight games amid their offensive struggles. New York has scored four offensive touchdowns on its last 88 drives and ranks 30th in scoring for the season. They have scored 10 offensive touchdowns, the fewest of any team over 12 games over the past 30 years — and just once in the two weeks since Wilson was benched.
The struggles derailed a season that began with high expectations until star quarterback Aaron Rodgers ruptured his Achilles tendon four times in the team’s season opener. The Jets opened Rodgers’ 21-day practice window last week, but said his health and the Jets’ chances in the playoffs are factors in a potential return from injury this season.
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Wilson, the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, returned to his previous role as the Jets’ starter following Rodgers’ injury. But as in previous seasons, the offense struggled, and Boyle was named the starter for the Week 12 game against the Miami Dolphins.
Wilson is 3-6 as a starter this year, with six touchdowns, seven interceptions and 1,944 receiving yards. The Jets offense has scored multiple touchdowns just once this season — in a 23-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 1.
Boyle completed 48 of 77 passes (62.3 percent) for 360 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions. Siemien went 5 of 13 for 66 yards in relief of Boyle in Week 13.
Neither was able to continue the offense, which has struggled more in the past two weeks than even Wilson did. At the time of Wilson’s benching, the Jets were not planning on playing him again this season. The offense’s performance in the 13-8 loss to the Falcons turned things around.
What to expect from Wilson
The last time the Jets went back to Wilson after benching him, things didn’t go well. Last year, the Jets returned Wilson after they benched him for Mike White, who injured his ribs. Wilson started two games when he returned but in the second game he was benched in favor of practice squad quarterback Chris Streveler, and the feeling was that this was the last time Wilson would ever get significant snaps for the Jets.
Both Wilson and Saleh admitted he’d lost his confidence at that point last year – watching his teammates wearing Mike White jerseys after Wilson was benched probably didn’t help – so it will be interesting to see how Wilson handles himself this time around.
This is especially true in light of The athleteReport that he was resistant to playing all this time after he was benched for Boyle and demoted to third string. It was odd for Saleh to say that Wilson gave the Jets the best chance to win all along. It’s hard to argue that point now considering how poorly the Jets have played the past two weeks without him (winning 47-21, 7 of 29 on third-down conversions) but it’s also fair to wonder how Wilson would fare if he didn’t want to play. in the first place. Ultimately, this is Wilson’s last chance to prove to other NFL teams that he can contribute as a starter or even a backup quarterback. — Zach Rosenblatt, Jets staff writer
(Photo: Brad Penner/USA Today)
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