Jets bench Zach Wilson, turn to Mike White as starting QB

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — Embattled New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson, who was hailed as a franchise savior just a year ago, goes to the bench in a dramatic shake-up.

Coach Robert Saleh made the bombshell announcement in a late morning team meeting and later confirmed to reporters that Mike White will play against the Chicago Bears at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Joe Flacco will be the No. 2 quarterback; Wilson will be inactive.

It’s a key pivot for an organization that had geared almost everything to Wilson since drafting him second overall in 2021. It raises questions about the future of their quarterback position, a proposition the Jets never thought would have to face so soon.

Saleh said they hope to play Wilson again this season.

“Zach’s career here isn’t over yet,” Saleh said. “I know that’s going to be the narrative and I know that’s what everyone wants to shout about, but it’s nowhere near the case. The full intention is to make sure Zach gets back on the football field this season. If so, I will make that decision. I will meet her from day to day.

This, of course, opens the door to possible quarterback controversy if White succeeds. Saleh, trying to influence Wilson positively, said: “The young man needs a fresh start.

“There are some fundamental things that are really out of whack for him,” Saleh said. “This is just an opportunity for him to sit back, focus on those things and find a way to reconnect with all the different things that we fell in love with during the design process. I have a feeling he will be able to do that. “

The Jets (6-4) have entered a win-now mode in hopes of ending an 11-year playoff drought. They believe their defense is championship quality and don’t want to waste that opportunity on unpredictable quarterback play.

Wilson passed for a career-low 77 yards in Sunday’s loss to the New England Patriots, sparking a firestorm by refusing to take the blame for the offensive’s dismal performance. Saleh wasn’t happy with the comments but insisted it didn’t play a role in the decision to bench him.

On Monday, Saleh met with Wilson and told him he was evaluating the quarterback’s position and later told reporters the same thing. The non-endorsement was significant as it was the first time Wilson’s job security had been questioned by the team.

According to Saleh, Wilson addressed the team. He declined to give details but it was presumably about his post-game comments.

The Jets have been 5-2 since Wilson’s return from knee surgery in August. Both losses went to the New England Patriots. You win on defense, not pass attack. Wilson has just four touchdown passes and has surpassed 210 yards in just two of his seven starts.

But the Jets win on defense, not pass offense. Wilson has just four touchdown passes and has surpassed 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 stay with Wilson for the rest of the season. That came after a three-interception nightmare.

Everything changed on Sunday when Wilson was incapacitated as he directed one of the worst offensive performances in team history. The Jets totaled just 103 yards, which Saleh called “unacceptable.”

White is hardly a sure thing; He has only three career starts.

After Wilson sustained a knee injury last season, White nearly achieved cult hero status in his first career start, throwing for 405 yards and three touchdowns to upset the Cincinnati Bengals. The 2018 Dallas Cowboys draft pick had two more starts: an incomplete game against the Indianapolis Colts (he left the team with an injury) and a four-interception clunker against the Buffalo Bills.

White started this season as the No. 3 quarterback behind Wilson and Flacco. The team changed the depth chart in Week 8, promoting White to QB2 – a move that left some on the team scratching their heads. Saleh said it was “to give him an opportunity to prepare as if he were the next man”.

And now he is. Jets bench Zach Wilson, turn to Mike White as starting QB

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