FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Zach Wilson was benched by the New York Jets to try to spark the offense.
Two games later, still barely a flutter.
So, Wilson is back as the starter — again — and he’ll be under center Sunday when the Jets take on the Houston Texans.
“I think he’s had two weeks off to refocus and keep learning and growing,” offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said Thursday. “I think when you look at him from the beginning of this season, the whole idea was for him to be able to sit and learn from Aaron (Rodgers).
“I think those two weeks are something he’s been able to do.”
Wilson struggled the most in his first two seasons in the NFL after being the No. 2 pick in the 2021 draft. That led the Jets — convinced they were one quarterback away from playoff contenders — to craft a deal to acquire Rodgers from Green Bay in the offseason.
Wilson’s plan to take on as much of Rodgers from the sideline as possible ended when the four-time NFL MVP tore his left Achilles tendon four shots into his Jets debut. That put Wilson back in the starting job, and he once again couldn’t consistently help the offense.
The Jets are last or near the bottom of the NFL rankings in several offensive categories. In an attempt to give things a boost, Wilson was brought on in favor of Tim Boyle – who was also ineffective.
Boyle was denied and Wilson returned.
“It’s unfortunate, but we have to move on,” Hackett said of Boyle. “We need to get some points.”
The Jets, who are looking to snap a five-game losing streak, have scored fewer than two touchdowns on offense in eight straight games. They also have just two TDs total on offense in their last five games.
“We’re all trying to find a way,” Wilson said Wednesday. “At the end of the day, this is a business. We have to score, we have to win games and I understand that.”
Hackett watched Wilson closely the past two weeks while Boyle started, Trevor Siemian was the backup and Wilson was the No. 3 emergency quarterback. He hasn’t seen a drop-off from Wilson, who said he’s excited to get another opportunity to start — despite The Athletic’s report’s source saying he’s showing reluctance to lead the huddle again this season.
“He was great,” Hackett said. “Man is battle-tested. I mean, he really has, from getting on the field to all the things I’ve had to deal with. I respect him so much for being able to keep his head down, keep learning, keep growing, and he’s fired up.”
Wilson has thrown for 1,944 yards and six touchdowns with seven interceptions in 10 games, including nine starts, this season. He and coach Robert Saleh acknowledged that Wilson is more effective when he “lets himself rip” instead of being overly cautious — almost concerned about making a mistake.
It’s a different approach than what the Jets preached during Wilson’s first two seasons, when they said playing “boring football” and taking what the defense gave him — short passes with minimal room for mistakes — was the way to go.
“I think there’s a little bit of a transition for him,” Hackett said in his first season as offensive coordinator. “I don’t know how it was in the past, but I know ours and I think he grew up. We saw a lot of improvement at the start of the season and the idea is just to get him back there so he can cut loose.
“We always want to be aggressive and I think that’s something we’re always going to push.”
NOTES: Rodgers returned to practice on a limited basis after sitting out Wednesday. He remains on injured reserve. … RB Breece Hall sat out practice for a second straight day with an ankle injury, but said he’ll be good to play Sunday. … WR Jason Brownlee (ankle), OL Wes Schweitzer (calf) and DL John Franklin-Myers (ankle) also did not participate. … TE Tyler Conklin (hamstring) and LB Quincy Williams (knee) were limited.
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