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Zach Wilson doesn't believe Jets 'scapegoated' him with demotion

Zach Wilson's benching probably came too late. And if you asked Wilson, he wouldn't put up much of a fight.

The New York Jet's offense was downright putrid with Wilson at quarterback, ranking last in third-down percentage and red-zone production. They've averaged just eight points per game in their last three contests. Tim Boyle might not offer much higher of a ceiling this Friday against the Dolphins, but after weeks of maintaining status quo and watching little change for the better, head coach Robert Saleh finally made the switch if for nothing more than to try something new.

The Jets need a spark -- desperately. They're hoping Boyle provides one. And regardless of the outcome, Wilson knows his benching was justified.

"I don't think I was scapegoated. Absolutely not," he said Tuesday, via ESPN. "You've got to look at the situation. We're not scoring touchdowns. Regardless of what I'm doing, my job as a quarterback is to help us score points. I can sit here and say I've had a bunch of growth and tremendous whatever this year, but if you're not scoring touchdowns, it doesn't matter. It really doesn't. And I get that."

Wilson's choice of the term scapegoat isn't a coincidence. Aaron Rodgers lamented Wilson's struggles and benching earlier Tuesday during his weekly appearance on the Pat McAfee Show, explaining "a lot of times in these situations, there's certain guys that have got to be the scapegoat."

Scapegoat often comes with a connotation of being unfair. But anyone who has watched the Jets with Wilson under center knows he wasn't doing a good enough job to continue as the starter. Wilson didn't shy from this fact on Tuesday, but pushed back against a connection between last year's problems and his issues in 2023.

"It's a lot different," Wilson said, comparing his separate benchings. "Obviously, I wasn't doing anything well last year. It was well-deserved. I felt like it was deserved in the locker room. But where I'm at right now, it's like we're truly struggling as an offense. It's hard to point the finger at anybody. I hope we can figure things out and I'll take that if that's the issue.

"No matter what, I just want this team to do well. But it is different. I know I'm a different player. I know I've come a long way. I understand the game more, I feel confident out there playing. For whatever reason, can't get it done. I understand that comes with the position. It's unfortunate, but I'm going to keep working."

Wilson isn't inaccurate when claiming he's a different player now. He had moments in which he showed true growth in 2023, especially in comparison to 2022, but because the results haven't been drastically different -- and because New York's offense has been so unproductive with him on the field -- the Jets couldn't realistically continue repeating the same actions and expect different results. A league-worst nine total offensive touchdowns just won't get the job done, especially in a Week 12 game that pits New York against one of the NFL's most explosive offenses.

"I can't take it personal," Wilson said of his demotion. "It's not a shot at me."

Wilson will return to the bench for Friday's game against Miami, relegated to wearing a cap and headset as the No. 3 QB while Boyle attempts to lift them out of the muck in which their offense has been mired. This time, though, Wilson won't sit on the sideline with any bitterness in his heart. He knows he had an opportunity to command the job, and didn't capitalize.

Boyle, an NFL veteran who posted unremarkable numbers in two collegiate stops (Connecticut, Eastern Kentucky), will try to be the savior the Jets desperately need. He doesn't need to be a hero as much as he just needs to be competent. There's no telling whether he'll be able to do so, but he'll receive his first opportunity one day after Thanksgiving.

"Accountability is No. 1 at quarterback and I didn't play well in college, but here I am Year 6 in the NFL," Boyle said. "I feel like I have enough. I can get the ball out on time and make all the throws. I can see into the pocket and be a good quarterback for this team, so that's what I intend to do."

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