Jets bench Zach Wilson; Tim Boyle to start Friday against Dolphins

With the New York Jets’ playoff hopes slipping away and the talk of Aaron Rodgers’s potential return next month becoming moot, Coach Robert Saleh announced a starting quarterback switch Monday. Journeyman Tim Boyle will start Friday’s game at home against the Miami Dolphins, Saleh said, as the Jets in effect acknowledged Zach Wilson is not the answer to their quarterback issues.

Saleh benched Wilson, the No. 2 selection in the 2021 NFL draft, in favor of Boyle during Sunday’s 32-6 loss to the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, N.Y., which dropped the Jets’ record to 4-6. Saleh was noncommittal following Sunday’s game about the starter moving forward, then said during a news conference Monday that Boyle will get the nod against the Dolphins.

“Different style of quarterback,” Saleh said. “So really it’s just to give him an opportunity to see if we can do something with the offense.”

Trevor Siemian will be the primary backup to Boyle on Friday, Saleh said, and Wilson will be the No. 3 quarterback.

The Jets are 14th in the AFC, ahead of only the Tennessee Titans and the New England Patriots. They’re two games out of the seventh and final playoff spot in the conference. A defeat Friday, in the NFL’s new Friday-after-Thanksgiving game, would further dent their postseason chances. The Dolphins, at 7-3, lead the AFC East.

The Jets thought they had solved their quarterback dilemma when they made a blockbuster offseason trade with the Green Bay Packers to add Rodgers, the four-time MVP and certain future Hall of Famer. But he suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon in his left leg on the fourth offensive play of the Jets’ season-opening triumph over the Bills in East Rutherford, N.J. Saleh initially said Rodgers would undergo surgery and was expected to miss the rest of the season.

Rodgers underwent surgery with a technique designed to speed his recovery and has taken an aggressive approach to his rehabilitation process. He has left open the possibility of playing again this season, perhaps as soon as the middle of next month. Whether or not such a target is realistic, a prospective return by Rodgers would be contingent upon the Jets remaining in the playoff race. They are teetering on the edge of that.

They face the Dolphins twice in their next four games and also have a meeting with the playoff-contending Houston Texans during that stretch.

Wilson completed 7 of 15 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown against the Bills before his benching. He also threw an interception. He is the NFL’s 30th-rated passer. The Jets rank 30th in total offense and 30th in scoring offense.

Saleh has said he believes the Jets have a championship-caliber defense. That defense mostly has performed well during Rodgers’s absence. But the offense has been unable to do its part.

Boyle has made three starts, all in losses with the Detroit Lions in 2021, during an NFL career that has also included stints with the Packers, Chicago Bears and Jets. Boyle completed 7 of 14 passes for 33 yards in his relief appearance Sunday against the Bills. He also threw an interception.

The Jets drafted Wilson out of BYU right after the Jacksonville Jaguars took Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence at No. 1. Wilson has made 31 starts in his three seasons with the Jets, totaling 21 touchdown passes and 25 interceptions. The Jets have gone 11-20 in his starts. Saleh benched Wilson twice last season, but the Jets opted to retain him as Rodgers’s backup following the trade with the Packers.

They went back to Wilson as the starter following Rodgers’s injury without adding a prominent veteran to the roster. Wilson’s four-year rookie contract with the Jets runs through the 2024 season.

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