New York Jets Bench Zach Wilson;  Mike White Will Start

New York Jets Bench Zach Wilson; Mike White Will Start

Last year’s No. 2 overall pick will not be activated for game day, with veteran Joe Flacco serving as a backup to the new starter.

FLORHAM PARK — Criticized New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson, dubbed the franchise’s savior just a year ago, is going to the bench in a dramatic shakeup of the organization.

Head coach Robert Saleh made the surprise announcement during a morning team meeting, later confirming to reporters that Mike White will start Sunday against the Chicago Bears at MetLife Stadium. Joe Flacco will be the backup quarterback; Wilson will be deactivated inactive.

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It’s a significant change for a franchise that had directed all its efforts at Wilson since he was drafted second overall in 2021. It also raises questions about the future of the quarterback position, a question the Jets didn’t think they would have to confront. as soon.

Saleh said there is hope Wilson will play again in the season.

“Zach’s career here is not over,” Saleh said. “I know there’s going to be that narrative, and I know that’s what everyone wants to scream about, but that’s not even close to the case. The whole intent is to make sure Zach gets back on the football field this season. When that happens I’ll make the decision. I’ll take it day by day.”

Coach Robert Saleh was careful to say that Zach Wilson’s career was not over with the Jets. Getty Images

That, of course, opens the door to potential quarterback controversy if White is successful. Saleh, trying to put a positive angle on Wilson’s case, said that “the young man requires a reset.

“There are some fundamental basic things that have really turned into chaos for him,” Saleh admitted. “It’s just an opportunity for him to sit down, focus on those things, and find a way to reconnect with the different things that we fell in love with during the draft process. It’s something that we feel, he’ll be able to do.”

The Jets (6-4), hoping to end an 11-year playoff drought, have switched to a win-now strategy. They believe their defense is championship-caliber, and they don’t want to waste the opportunity because of erratic play at quarterback.

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Wilson threw for a career-high 77 yards in Sunday’s loss to the New England Patriots and created controversy by refusing to accept responsibility for the poor offensive performance. Saleh wasn’t happy about the comments, but insisted they didn’t factor into Wilson’s benching.

On Monday, Saleh met with Wilson and told him he was evaluating the quarterback position, repeating the same thing to reporters. The lack of endorsement was significant, because it marked the first time Wilson’s job security was called into question by the team.

Wilson chatted with the team, according to Saleh. He declined to elaborate, but presumably discussed his post-meeting comments.

The Jets are 5-2 since Wilson’s return from knee surgery in August. Both losses occurred against the Patriots.

But, the Jets are winning with their defense, not their passing game. Wilson has just four touchdown passes and has exceeded 210 yards in just two of his seven starts.

Publicly, Saleh remained supportive, saying after the Oct. 20 loss to the Patriots that he would stick with Wilson for the remainder of the season. That came after a three-interception nightmare.

Everything changed this Sunday, when Wilson looked inept in directing and one of the worst offensive performances in team history. The Jets had just 103 total yards, which Saleh described as “unacceptable.”

White is far from a certainty; he has started just three games in his career.

With Wilson dealing with a knee injury last season, White achieved cult hero status in his first career start, passing for 405 yards and three touchdowns in a sweep over the Cincinnati Bengals. The 2018 draft pick for the Dallas Cowboys had two more starting starts: an incomplete game against the Indianapolis Colts that he sat down with injury, and a four-interception outing against the Buffalo Bills.

White began the season as the third quarterback in the order, behind Wilson and Flacco. The team changed its quarterback order in Week 8, promoting White to second, a change that left some wondering why. Saleh said at the time that it was to “allow him the opportunity to prepare as his was the next in line.”

Now it is.

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