June 22, 2024

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Jets went from Aaron Rodgers (briefly) to Zach Wilson to Tim Boyle. Trevor Siemian could be next.

Facing a multiple-choice question with no right answer, coach Robert Saleh is weighing yet another quarterback change in the aftermath of a 13-8 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at a rainy MetLife Stadium. It was the Jets’ fifth straight defeat.

If Saleh turns to Siemian, who replaced an ineffective Boyle early in the fourth quarter, it will mark the first time since 1989 that the Jets have started four different quarterbacks in the same season. The instability is one of the main reasons the offense, which failed to score a touchdown for the third time in the past five games, has sunk to a historically inept level.

“I’m not there yet with regard to next week,” Saleh said of his quarterback decision.

Does he go with Siemian? In his 2023 debut, the former Denver Broncos starter struggled in four possessions with three sacks and three fumbles (one lost). He completed only 5 of 13 passes for 66 yards and failed to generate any points even though one drive began at the Atlanta 48-yard line.

Does he return to Boyle? In two starts since replacing Wilson, who was benched, Boyle led the offense to only one touchdown in 18 drives. On Sunday, he missed open receivers downfield, contributed to four false starts because Saleh said he got “too cute” with his cadence and threw an interception that resulted in Boyle being replaced.

Does he go back to Wilson, who replaced the injured Rodgers in Week 1 and won only three of nine starts before being replaced?

“He’s always in consideration,” Saleh said of Wilson, the No. 2 draft pick in 2021 who was the inactive/emergency quarterback for the second straight week. “To what level, I’m not there yet.”

Rodgers, three months removed from Achilles’ tendon surgery, wants to play again this season, but he has said it wouldn’t make sense to return if the team is out of playoff contention. At 4-8, the Jets are on the verge of being mathematically eliminated.

Saleh was asked if the loss affects their plans for Rodgers, who is preparing for his second week of practice.

“No, our plan for Aaron is consistent,” the coach said. “He’s in rehab. That’s all he’s doing.”

The quarterback dysfunction has dragged down a potentially promising season. The Jets have scored fewer than two touchdowns in eight straight games, becoming the first team since the 2011 St. Louis Rams to do so. They’re also the first team since the 1993 Cincinnati Bengals to register 10 or fewer touchdowns through the first 12 games.

New York linebacker C.J. Mosley, a team captain, offered a candidly blunt assessment.

“The truth is, we have the quarterback position right now, the offense is struggling, the defense is just trying to maintain, special teams trying to do the same,” Mosley said. “It’s no secret. That’s just the cards we were dealt this year.”

Though Saleh didn’t directly criticize Boyle, the coach wasn’t happy with his performance.

In the first quarter, Boyle (14-for-25, 148 yards) didn’t throw it to wide receiver Garrett Wilson, who was open downfield. There were other occasions on which Wilson, who had three catches for 50 yards, wasn’t targeted even though he beat his man.

“I felt like there was a lot of missed opportunities with potential explosive plays, possible touchdowns, on the field today,” Saleh said. “We’ve got to find a way to take advantage when we have those opportunities.”

Asked why Wilson didn’t get the ball in those situations, Saleh smiled and paused a few seconds before saying he wanted to watch the tape. He also defended embattled offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, saying, “I guess you guys will have a better idea when you see the all-22 from this one.”

In other words, the playcalls were good, but the plays weren’t executed. Wilson, who has expressed frustration in the past, took the high road.

“I can do a better job communicating what I’m seeing out on the field,” he said. “I could do that for sure.”

To his credit, Boyle acknowledged he squandered opportunities in his fifth career start — all losses.

“I could’ve been way more aggressive on a few throws I want back,” Boyle said. “Clearly, I didn’t get the job done.”

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