NFL News & Analysis

It's the end of the road for New York Jets QB Zach Wilson

2T5YKKK New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) looks to the sidelines during the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

• The New York Jets are benching quarterback Zach Wilson: The 2021 second overall pick will be replaced by sixth-year pro Tim Boyle, who will start Friday against the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium.

• Underwhelming returns for New York: Wilson ultimately played 10 games in 2023 but graded above 60.0 just four times. Over his 32-game career, he earned just 14 PFF grades above 60.0 and nine under 50.0. He has graded above 80.0 just twice since 2021. For reference, Houston Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud has graded above 80.0 four times this season, three of which have come over the last three games.

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Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

The New York Jets are benching quarterback Zach Wilson.

The 2021 second overall pick will be replaced by sixth-year pro Tim Boyle, who will start Friday against the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium.

The decision follows Wilson’s lowest-graded performance in what has been a poor season. The BYU product finished 7-of-20 for 87 yards and a touchdown in his Week 11 defeat to the Buffalo Bills, earning just a 32.2 PFF grade.

Wilson has been in the NFL for three seasons, and it’s possible that he has played his last snap with the New York Jets. So, where did it go wrong for the former No. 2 overall pick?

Wilson earned a 59.3 PFF grade in his rookie year, 36th among the 44 passers who dropped back 100 or more times. And while it wasn’t great, with Wilson recording eight more turnover-worthy plays than big-time throws, there were still flashes in there that suggested that it was possible (albeit unlikely) that he could take a step forward in his second season.

However, he didn't just fail to take a step forward in Year 2 — he actually regressed. His 46.6 PFF grade in 2022 was the worst mark of any of the 48 quarterbacks with 100 or more dropbacks, and he threw just six touchdowns in nine games.

His struggles were likely a big part of why the Jets went out and acquired Aaron Rodgers to turn them into a Super Bowl contender and allow a reset for Wilson — but Rodgers’ 2023 season lasted just four snaps before he went down with an Achilles injury that put Wilson back into the starting lineup.

Much was made of how Wilson performed in the win over the Buffalo Bills the night Rodgers went down, but not much stuck out outside of the 66.7% completion percentage. He finished 14-of-21 for 140 yards, one touchdown and one interception but no big-time throws and one turnover-worthy play.

His best game of the season came against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4, where he earned a 72.2 PFF grade in what will very likely be his only multi-touchdown game of the year. The Jets quarterback completed 28 of his 39 passes for 245 yards and two scores, tallying three big-time throws and no turnover-worthy plays.

Zach Wilson: PFF grades since 2021

Wilson ultimately played 10 games in 2023 but graded above 60.0 just four times. Over his 32-game career, he earned just 14 PFF grades above 60.0 and nine under 50.0. He has graded above 80.0 just twice since 2021. For reference, Houston Texans rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud has graded above 80.0 four times this season, three of which have come over the last three games.

Moving from Wilson to Boyle at 4-6 suggests that the Jets don’t believe Wilson can even keep them in the hunt for a late-season push should Rodgers make it back before the end of the year. It also suggests that they won’t be keeping him around much longer.

On the balance of play over his first three seasons in the NFL, Wilson will likely have to go somewhere as a backup or third-string quarterback in 2024 and try to develop from the bench.

He’s still only 24 years old, so someone will take a chance on a player with his draft pedigree, but if 2023 has been anything to go by, you have to question if any team could rely on him even as a backup.

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