Zach Wilson to start at quarterback for the Jets on Sunday against the Texans

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Zach Wilson is back in as the New York Jets’ starting quarterback. And he hopes to finish the season in that position.

Wilson, benched for two games after struggling in place of the injured Aaron Rodgers, will be under center for the Jets’ home game Sunday against the Houston Texans.

“Zach gives us the best chance to win,” coach Robert Saleh said Wednesday. “And we’ll give him another opportunity to go prove that.”

The decision came a day after New York waived Tim Boyle following two ineffective starts and signed Brett Rypien off Seattle’s practice squad. The Jets also have veteran Trevor Siemian, who replaced Boyle in the fourth quarter of New York’s 13-8 loss to Atlanta last Sunday.

“I'm excited, man,” Wilson said. “I think any opportunity you can get in this league is a good one."

Siemian will serve as Wilson's backup and Rypien will be the emergency No. 3 quarterback — the role in which Wilson served the past two games.

When asked if Wilson will be the Jets' starting quarterback the rest of the season, Saleh simply responded: “God willing.”

The Jets (4-8) have lost five in a row and appear headed to a 13th straight season without a playoff berth. It’s the NFL’s longest active postseason drought.

Wilson said he intends to “have more fun than I have, in a professional way” with this opportunity.

“At the same time, of course there’s a chip of feeling like I need to prove something,” the quarterback said. “I feel like this team needs to prove something. This offense needs to prove something. ... And I think everyone wants to show that.”

Saleh said Monday he wasn’t ready to name a starting quarterback and Wilson found himself the subject of controversy when The Athletic reported he was reluctant to start again, citing injury concerns. Saleh dismissed that report, saying Wilson came to his office and said he wanted to start this week.

Saleh added Wednesday he didn't feel the need to address the team regarding the story.

“I am not concerned one bit about that report,” Saleh said. “I have my reasons, but Zach's in a great place. The locker room's in a great place.”

Wilson said he also didn't speak to the team about the report, but added there was no truth to him being reluctant to play again this season.

“Absolutely not,” Wilson said. "I love the guys in this locker room and I would do anything. I think any time you have an opportunity to step on this field, you need to take advantage of it.”

Rodgers defended Wilson during his appearance Tuesday on “The Pat McAfee Show,” saying the Jets need to do a better job of controlling leaks. He was particularly disappointed with the perception of Wilson from the report that “this kid is quitting on the team and doesn’t want to play and has given the middle finger to the organization.”

Wilson, the 2021 No. 2 overall draft pick, started the past two years but was inconsistent and benched twice last season. He moved into a backup role when the Jets acquired Rodgers from Green Bay in the offseason, but took over again when the four-time NFL MVP tore his left Achilles tendon four snaps into his debut with New York on Sept. 11.

Wilson mostly struggled again — along with the rest of New York’s offense in Nathaniel Hackett’s first season as offensive coordinator. The 24-year-old quarterback has thrown for 1,944 yards and six touchdowns with seven interceptions in 10 games this season.

Saleh said he always has believed Wilson gave the Jets the best chance to win, but made the previous switch at quarterback to try to spark the offense.

“The biggest thing for Zach is just let the thing rip,” Saleh said. “Trust in your ability, trust in your teammates, trust in your arm talent and trust what you’re seeing and just let it fly. He’s got undeniable talent, arm talent, undeniable athleticism, and when he plays with that ‘eff it mentality,’ if you will, he’s pretty good.”

Boyle was 41 of 63 for 327 yards and one touchdown with three interceptions — including a Hail Mary that was returned 99 yards for a touchdown against Miami — in two losses as the Jets’ starter. Boyle cleared waivers Wednesday and is a free agent, although Saleh said re-signing him to the practice squad is a possibility.

Meanwhile, Rodgers has been progressing quickly as he tries to return this season, but the 40-year-old quarterback didn't practice Wednesday.

“He’s going through his rehab schedule,” Saleh said. ��I know he pushed it some yesterday and Monday, so whatever that schedule is with regards to the medical medical team is what it is.”

Saleh also still wouldn't rule out Rodgers playing again this season.

"I'll never close the door until the door's closed," Saleh said.

NOTES: Saleh said he wasn't concerned about leaks in the organization after Rodgers said it was a widespread problem. “I don’t think it’s an attack on the organization,” the coach said, “but I always appreciate Aaron’s thoughts and comments.” ... RB Breece Hall (ankle) sat out practice, as did WR Jason Brownlee (ankle), OL Wes Schweitzer (calf) and DL John Franklin-Myers (ankle). ... TE Kenny Yeboah was activated from injured reserve after missing the first 12 games with a hamstring injury. ... TE C.J. Uzomah was placed on IR with an injured medial collateral ligament in his right knee.

___

AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL

 

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