Now, Boyle will get his first start of the season on a short week.
Boyle will start Friday’s game against the Dolphins, Jets coach Robert Saleh announced on Monday. The Jets will carry three quarterbacks on game day and Trevor Siemian, who was signed to the Jets practice squad on Sept. 26, will be back up Boyle.
Wilson will be the Jets third-string quarterback, with the team having an extra roster spot.
“Just give him an opportunity,” Saleh said about Boyle. “Different style of quarterback. Really just an opportunity to see if he can do something with the offense.
Saleh replaced Wilson with 2:17 left in the third quarter against the Bills after he completed 7 of 15 passes for 81 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Boyle didn’t perform any better after replacing Wilson. He finished 7 of 14 for 33 yards and an interception.
The Jets selected Wilson No. 2 overall during the 2021 NFL Draft, which raised a few eyebrows with then-Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields still on the board. The Jets immediately handed Wilson the job without him actually having to earn it. Saleh and Jets general manager Joe Douglas thought Wilson could develop into their quarterback of the future, but that never came to fruition.
Wilson’s three seasons have been marked by injuries, inconsistent play and lack of accountability during his second season in 2022, which eventually got him benched on multiple occasions. The Jets acquired Aaron Rodgers last offseason with the hopes of their offense improving and him guiding Wilson.
Because of this, the Jets decided not to add a more proven backup quarterback. However, four plays into the season opener against the Bills on Sept. 11, Rodgers tore his Achilles and Wilson was once again thrust into the starting role.
“We think Zach is incredibly talented,” Saleh said. “We felt like if he got the opportunity to sit behind Aaron. When you look at Zach, he really never had the opportunity to watch somebody play the position.
“Joe Flacco was fantastic, Mike White did some good things, but to just sit back and just watch from the ground up and that was his opportunity with Aaron and four plays in, he’s back in the starting lineup.
“He never really got to sit back and absorb and get that redshirt year you would have loved to given him. You can always play the hindsight is 20/20 game, we felt like we did what was best for the organization and best for the team. But it’s been an unfortunate series of events when you look at all the injuries on the O-Line and the things that have transpired since the start of the year.”
Throughout the ups and downs of the 2023 season, Saleh has been committed to Wilson after Rodgers’ Achilles tear in Week 1 against Buffalo. However, Sunday finally was the breaking point for him and the Jets.
Since replacing Rodgers, Wilson has thrown for 1,944 yards, five touchdowns, and seven interceptions. He is tied for 32nd in the NFL in completion percentage (59.2%) and ranks 30th in Total Quarterback Rating (30.8).
The Jets offense ranks 30th in yards (170.5) and points per game (15). Gang Green is also on a pace to have the lowest third-down conversion rate in NFL history (22.9%).
The Jets have just nine touchdowns in 10 games, which is the worst in the league. To put that in perspective, the Dolphins scored 10 touchdowns in their 70-20 Week 3 route of the Broncos.
Meanwhile, Gang Green’s defense has been among the best units in the NFL. Through 10 games, the Jets entered Sunday’s game against the Bills sixth in total defense (307.8) and seventh in points allowed (19.1).
However, the Jets defense allowed 32 points and a season-high 393 yards. Those numbers reflect somewhat on the offense. The Jets have been unable to stay on the field and score touchdowns, which typically wears a defense down.
The Jets have done a great job fighting through all the adversity of their poor offense. However, they weren’t able to overcome it against the Bills. Now the Jets rank 11th in total defense (316.3) and points allowed (20.4).
“It has been all the way across the board,” Saleh said. “We made a lot of changes, tried to go a little younger. We’ve addressed the running back room, we’ve addressed the receiver room, we’ve addressed the tight end room, we moved the coordinator [Nathaniel Hackett] to the box.
“With Zach, it is not all him, but there are things he needs to be better at and this is just another situation just to see if we can give another guy an opportunity to see if something can change.”
Now after Wilson has been benched for a third time, it appears his Jets career is basically over. If the team chooses, Gang Green has him under control through the 2025 season.
Next offseason, the Jets will have to decide if they will pick up Wilson’s $23 million fifth-year option for 2025 or decline it. At this point, there’s virtually zero chance the Jets would exercise that expensive option.
Wilson is under contract for 2024 with a base salary of a little over $1 million. Saleh said the team would decide on Wilson’s future during the offseason. In 31 games with the Jets, Wilson has thrown for 5,966 yards, 21 touchdowns and 25 interceptions.
“It’s a 53-man roster, it’s an all-11 sport when you looking at the offensive side of the ball,” Saleh said. “Have things gone exactly the way we wanted them to, no. I wouldn’t look at it as a failure, I look at it as a series of unfortunate events.
“I stand on the belief that Zach is going to have a really good career in this league. He has a tremendous work ethic, he has gotten a lot better over the course of the last year. He definitely has the arm talent. He just turned 24, so he has a positive outlook and he just needs to continue to focus on his game and ways to get better and continue to learn about fronts and coverages and how to play the game a little bit faster.
“I still believe he’s still going to have a good career.”
Boyle signed with the Jets in April and was supposed to be their third-string quarterback. But he was moved to backup when Rodgers tore his Achilles four plays into the season.
Friday will mark the fourth career start for Boyle. In 2021, he started three games for the Lions in place of an injured Jared Goff. That season, Boyle finished with 526 yards, three touchdowns and six interceptions. In five NFL seasons, Boyle has thrown for 607 yards, three touchdowns and nine interceptions for the Packers, Lions, Bears, and Jets.
It remains to be seen whether Boyle can perform better than Wilson. However, at 4-6 and 14th in the AFC standings, the Jets’ season is on the line in a critical matchup against a 7-3 Dolphins team leading the AFC East.
“We got to get going on offense,” Boyle said on Sunday. “Our defense is playing absolutely incredible. Special teams, it’s awesome. They got that conversion for us on fourth down with the fake punt.
“We just got to hold up our end of the bargain. There’s no magic pill. We just got to go out there and execute and communicate.”