With QB Mike White not cleared, Jets will turn back to Zach Wilson against Lions
Allen Park — Less than a month after benching their former No. 2 overall pick, the New York Jets are going back to quarterback Zach Wilson this Sunday against the Detroit Lions, in a matchup that carries playoff implications for both franchises.
On Friday, White was ruled out because of a lingering rib injury suffered last week against the Buffalo Bills. Wilson, who has been inactive the past three games, had already been announced as White's backup earlier in the week. Wilson will start for the first time since a 10-3 loss to the New England Patriots on Nov. 20.
"This is going to be a great opportunity for Zach," Jets coach Robert Saleh said. "When he was elevated to the No. 2 quarterback, it was with the understanding there was a strong possibility he was going to play, and to prepare accordingly, he's gotten the vast majority of the first-team reps. He'll get all the reps today and all the rep tomorrow, so we feel very comfortable with Zach's preparation as the first-string quarterback and he's gotten the normal workload a starting quarterback would get with the limitations that were placed on Mike."
In the first 20 starts of Wilson's career, the former BYU standout has completed just 55.6% of his passes, with more interceptions (16) than touchdowns (13). Among 33 qualifying quarterbacks, his 72.6 passer rating this season ranks last.
Despite the Jets posting a 5-2 record in his starts this season, Wilson was benched after the Patriots game. He was roundly criticized after that loss for postgame comments, where people felt he failed to properly shoulder blame for the loss and the offense's struggles.
Both the Lions and Jets enter Sunday's contest with playoff hopes afloat. The Jets are currently tied with the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Chargers for the final seed in the AFC, but on the outside looking in, due to tie-breakers. The Lions are 1½ games back in the NFC, but they can gain ground, given the No. 6 and No. 7 seeds playing head-to-head this week.