FLORHAM PARK, NJ — The New York Jets are entrusting their fading playoff hopes to Zach Wilson, who will be the starting quarterback Thursday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Coach Robert Saleh, who announced the decision Tuesday, made it sound like he didn’t have much of a choice. Mike White, who fractured ribs nine days ago and sat out Sunday’s loss to the Detroit Lions, was not cleared by doctors, according to Saleh.
The Jets (7-7) have lost three straight and have only a 13% chance of making the playoffs, according to ESPN analytics.
Wilson, who returned from a three-game benching to face Detroit, was up and down in that game. He displayed the arm strength that made the Jets draft him second overall in 2021, passing for 317 yards and two touchdowns, but he missed several open receivers and threw a costly third-quarter interception. His off-target percentage (35.3) was a season high, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Overall, Wilson is 5-3 as the starter. In a wild quarterback year, the Jets also started Joe Flacco (1-2) and White (1-2).
When he benched Wilson on Nov. 23, Saleh said his intention was to get Wilson back in the lineup before the end of the season — but not like this.
White changed the plan by playing well and galvanizing the team, and there’s a good chance he would have remained the starter for as long as the Jets stayed in contention. Then he got drilled in the ribs by Buffalo Bills linebacker Matt Milano on Dec. 11, resulting in at least two fractures.