It's always been assumed that the only way Aaron Rodgers will rush back historically fast from his Achilles injury to play for the New York Jets again this season was if they still were in playoff contention by the earliest time Rodgers could be ready. That got a lot less likely following Sunday's 32-6 loss in Buffalo. Things were so bad offensively for the Jets that head coach Robert Saleh will bench Zach Wilson and start journeyman Tim Boyle for this Friday's game vs. Miami, the NFL's first Black Friday game. The Dolphins are -9 on the SportsLine consensus.
The New York offense was completely inept Sunday. Wilson was just 7-of-15 for 81 yards. He took five sacks and posted a mere 57.9 passer rating through almost three quarters before being pulled for Boyle with New York down 29-6. Wilson didn't complete a pass to a wide receiver. Boyle wasn't much better, completing 7-of-14 for 33 yards and a pick. The best QB by far Sunday was Jets punter Thomas Morstead on a trick play. When Jets coach Robert Saleh wouldn't immediately commit afterward to Wilson starting this week's game, the writing was on the wall.
"Frustrated, but I get it," Wilson said of Sunday's benching. "[You] have to score, have to be in games. When it's consecutive games of just doing nothing on offense, you know you can sit here and say last week we moved the ball, but we're not scoring. It essentially comes down to you have to score. So when things aren't getting done, change has to be made, and I understand that. … We need to take accountability, and that starts with me -- and I'm not getting it done."
It marked the third benching in the last 13 months for Wilson, who may well have played his final game for the Jets. In three years, he's 11-20 as a starter, with 21 touchdowns and 25 interceptions.
New York was 0-for-11 on third down against Buffalo and is on pace to produce he worst third-down offense (23%) by any team since the statistic was first recorded in 1972. Sunday was the Jets' league-high eighth game scoring six or fewer points over the past three seasons, three more than any other NFL team. The Jets have been outscored 75-24 over their current three-game skid. They are the first team since 2009 (Raiders and Browns) with fewer than 10 offensive touchdowns (nine) through 10 team games.
The 29-year-old Boyle has made three starts in his career and lost each in 2021 with Detroit. He posted a combined rating of 63.5 in those starts with three TDs and six picks. Overall, he has completed 73 of 120 passes (60.8%) for 607 yards, three TDs and nine picks for a rating of 50.9.
When the Jets benched Wilson last year, they did it with hopes Mike White would give the offense a spark. White is now the backup with the Dolphins. The Jets also have Trevor Siemian in-house as they signed him in late September. The 31-year-old Siemian has far more playing experience than Boyle, as he was the primary starter for the Broncos in 2016 and 2017.
The books have responded to the Boyle news generally by pushing the Jets from +7.5 to +9 and dropping the total from 42 to 41.5 points for the first-ever NFL game on the biggest shopping day of the year -- naturally shown on Amazon Prime.
Meanwhile, the general agreement is that Rodgers can't medically play before the Christmas Eve game vs. Washington. At 4-6, what record does the team need to have to make that a reality? After this week, the Jets host the Falcons in Week 13, host the Texans in Week 14 and then go to Miami in Week 15. Is 6-8 is the best the team can hope for? DraftKings lists New York at +1000 to reach the playoffs (-2000 to not) and Rodgers at +180 to take another regular-season snap this year.
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