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

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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 former No. 2 selection in the 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 team’s No. 3 quarterback.

The Jets are 14th in the AFC standings, 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 AFC. A defeat Friday, in the NFL’s new Friday-after-Thanksgiving game being carried nationally by Amazon Prime, would further dent their postseason chances. The Dolphins, at 7-3, lead the AFC East. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

The Jets thought they’d solved their quarterback dilemma when they made a blockbuster offseason trade with the Green Bay Packers to add Rodgers, the four-time league 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 seven 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 this season. The Jets are ranked 30th in the league 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 seven of 14 passes for 33 yards in his relief appearance Sunday against the Bills. He also threw an interception.

The Jets selected Wilson in the 2021 NFL draft out of BYU, after the Jacksonville Jaguars took quarterback Trevor Lawrence was taken No. 1. Wilson has made 31 starts in his three seasons for 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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