Not even Zach Wilson was surprised when the New York Jets announced they were benching Zach Wilson on Monday.
After 10 games (nine starts) of middling results from the former No. 2 overall pick, the Jets made the move to promote Tim Boyle to the starter under center against the Miami Dolphins on Friday. Wilson had been the starter since midway through New York's first drive of the season, when Aaron Rodgers ruptured his Achilles.
Wilson spoke with reporters a day after his demotion was announced and seemed to have an unusual amount of perspective, acknowledging his performance hadn't warranted him keeping the starting job:
“Not surprised, either way. Like I said to you guys, when you’re not scoring touchdowns consistently, and we’re letting our defense down, we’re not putting up points, what do you expect? You can sit there and be happy with the progress I feel like I’ve made personally, but it doesn’t matter if you can’t score, and I truly understand that. It starts with the quarterback and it’s finding a way to get it done, and we’re not doing that. If you keep doing the same thing, nothing’s gonna change, so I understand.”
In addition to Boyle starting, third-stringer Trevor Siemian will take over as the Jets' immediate backup, though all three quarterbacks will be active on game day.
Boyle is 29 years old and a career backup, so he's hardly a meaningful change in direction, but the Jets had few palatable options after a particularly bad 32-6 loss to the Buffalo Bills, in which Wilson was 7-for-15 for 81 yards, a touchdown, an interception and five sacks. Jets head coach Robert Saleh said Monday he hoped Boyle would give the team a chance to see "if we can do something different with the offense."
All of that seems to indicate Wilson might have already played his final snap of the season, in which he was thrust into an unenviable position following a slow start to his career. The Jets very publicly supplanted him as starting quarterback with their trade for Rodgers, with the understanding that Wilson would be able to spend a year or two not having to learn everything on the fly.
Then Rodgers tore his Achilles and Wilson was once again the starter, this time without a full training camp playing with the top offense. The results were predictable.
Rodgers himself noted how unfair the situation was to Wilson during his weekly appearance on "The Pat McAfee Show," while conceding the Jets needed something new:
“We need a spark, and I feel for Zach. I love Zach. Zach's such a great kid, and I do think he still has a bright future in the league. This has been a tough go for all of us. A lot of times in these situations, there’s certain guys they gotta scapegoat, and I think there’s enough blame to go around a number of different positions. If you have 10 guys right on a play and one guy not, it's hard to be efficient.
"This was obviously not the way any of us thought this was gonna go down. It was gonna be me and my show, and Zach getting to learn and watch it firsthand and not have the pressure to go out there and play, so obviously this is disappointing."
At this point, the Jets are poised to decline the fifth-year option on Wilson's rookie contract, making him a free agent after 2024.