Zach Wilson Vs. Texans, Jets starting all season, says Robert Saleh

The New York Jets will start Jack Wilson at quarterback Sunday against the Houston Texans and “God willing,” for the rest of the season, coach Robert Saleh said Wednesday.

Trevor Siemian will replace Tim Boyle as the backup in Sunday’s loss to the Falcons, and newly signed Brett Rybien will be the emergency QB this week, Saleh added. The Jets waived Boyle on Tuesday and signed Rybien off the Seattle Seahawks practice squad.

Multiple team sources said Monday that the team was leaning toward returning to Wilson, but he was reluctant to step back into the role.

Saleh said Wednesday that Wilson is “taken” and excited for the opportunity.

“We always believed he was the best QB to give us a chance to win,” Saleh said. He said the team turned to Boyle and Siemian to try to find a spark.

New York lost Wilson three weeks ago in a 32-6 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Boyle started the Jets’ last two games, but the team pulled him from Sunday’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons after a poor second week and replaced him with veteran Siemian.

Wilson said it’s been a “challenging year” and he’s excited to play. He denied he was hesitant to return as the starter, saying he didn’t need to work it out with the team on Wednesday.

“I have had support from day one. That’s why I love this team so much,” Wilson said. “I want to play for these guys. I’ll do anything for these guys.”

The Jets (4-8) have lost five straight amid their offensive struggles. New York has scored four offensive touchdowns on their last 88 drives and is 30th in scoring for the season. They’ve scored 10 offensive touchdowns, the fewest of any team in 12 games in the last 30 years — and only once in the two weeks Wilson has been benched.

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The struggles derailed a season that had started with high expectations until star quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a torn Achilles tendon four games into the team’s season opener. The Jets opened Rodgers’ 21-day practice window last week, but he said both his health and the Jets’ playoff chances are factors in his return from injury this season.

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Wilson, the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, returned to his former role as the Jets’ starter after Rodgers’ injury. But like previous seasons, the offense struggled, and Boyle was named the starter for a Week 12 game against the Miami Dolphins.

Wilson is 3-6 with six touchdowns, seven interceptions and 1,944 passing yards as a starter this year. Only once this season has the Jets’ offense scored multiple touchdowns — in a 23-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 1.

Boyle completed 48 of 77 (62.3 percent) passes for 360 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions. Siemian went 5-of-13 for 66 yards in relief of Boyle in Week 13.

Neither could get an offense that has struggled more over the past two weeks than it did with Wilson. With Wilson’s bench time, the Jets don’t plan to play him again this season. A performance in a 13-8 loss to the Falcons turned things around.

What to expect from Wilson

The last time the Jets went back after benching Wilson…it didn’t go well. Last year, the Jets turned to Wilson after benching him for Mike White, who injured his ribs. Wilson started two games when he returned, but in the second game he backed up practice squad quarterback Chris Streveler, and there was a feeling Wilson would finally get significant snaps for the Jets.

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Both Wilson and Salah admit he lost his confidence around that time last year — seeing teammates wearing Mike White shirts after Wilson was benched didn’t help — so it will be interesting to see how Wilson handles himself this time around.

This is especially true in lighting AthleticReportedly he was opposed to playing this time after being benched for Boyle and demoted to third string. It was interesting that Salah said Wilson gave the Jets their best chance of winning at full time. It’s hard now to consider how bad the Jets have been the last two weeks without him (47-21, outscored 7-for-29 on third down conversions) but it’s fair to wonder how Wilson would fare if he didn’t. Didn’t want to play at first. Ultimately, this is Wilson’s last chance to prove to other NFL teams that he’s capable of contributing as a starter or backup quarterback. — Zack Rosenblatt, Jets staff writer

(Photo: Brad Benner/USA Today)

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