Jets’ Zach Wilson Addresses Benching

The NFL’s first Black Friday matchup will see the Jets move forward with the 2023 version of their post-Zach Wilson offense. The former No. 2 pick has seen his status as starting quarterback removed for the second consecutive season, with Tim Boyle now set to handle first-team duties.

[RELATED: Aaron Rodgers Remains Intent On 2023 Return]

Wilson was benched in place of Mike White in 2022, as the Jets struggled offensively and the former failed to make the Year 2 jump many young passers experience. He acknowledged that New York’s offense has once again fallen short of expectations in 2023, prompting the team’s decision to drop him to No. 3 on the QB depth chart. Wilson’s remarks on the move indicate he feels he has developed over the course of this season, though.

“It’s a lot different,” the 24-year-old said, via ESPN’s Rich Cimini. “Obviously, I wasn’t doing anything well last year. It was well-deserved. I felt like it was deserved in the locker room. But where I’m at right now, it’s like we’re truly struggling as an offense. It’s hard to point the finger at anybody. I hope we can figure things out and I’ll take that if that’s the issue.”

Wilson added that he felt he has not been “scapegoated” for the issues New York’s offense has been dealing with. The unit ranks near the bottom of the NFL in many categories, and the Jets have scored only nine offensive touchdowns in 10 games this season. Wilson has completed less than 60% of his passes while throwing more interceptions (seven) than touchdowns (six) and losing five fumbles. Those figures have played a large part in New York’s struggles, though other elements – such as an injury-riddled offensive line and play-calling from OC Nathaniel Hackett which has come under scrutiny – have contributed as well.

With Wilson having been demoted for a second straight year, however, it has become increasingly difficult to see him remaining with the Jets no later than the expiration of his rookie contract in 2024. His shortcomings have led to reflections on New York’s decision to draft him in 2021, a move which followed the end of Sam Darnold‘s time at the helm. The latter still had supporters in the organization when the commitment to drafting Wilson was made, SNY’s Connor Hughes notes. Darnold was traded to the Panthers in April 2021, and he signed with the 49ers as a free agent this offseason.

In the wake of benching Wilson, head coach Robert Saleh was unsurprisingly asked about his thoughts on the process of selecting the BYU alum. He responded (via Cimini) simply that he has “shared his thoughts” on the decision with general manager Joe Douglas without going into detail. Saleh has repeatedly given Wilson public votes of confidence, only opening the door to a quarterback swap this past week in the wake of Boyle taking over from Wilson midway through the Jets’ Week 11 loss.

Of course, the organization made its thoughts on Wilson clear by acquiring Aaron Rogers this offseason to supplement a roster believed to be in win-now mode at many positions other than quarterback. With Rodgers under contract for next year, it will be interesting to see how the Jets choose to proceed with Wilson over the coming months in light of his tenure as a New York starter likely having come to an end.

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