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February 21, 2024

Tim Boyle to stay Jets’ starter as Aaron Rodgers decision looms

Tim Boyle to stay Jets’ starter as Aaron Rodgers decision looms

Rich Cimini, ESPN Staff WriterNov 25, 2023, 10:49 AM ET


Rich Cimini is a staff writer who covers the New York Jets and the NFL at ESPN. Rich has covered the Jets for over 30 years, joining ESPN in 2010. Rich also hosts the Flight Deck podcast. He previously was a beat writer for the New York Daily News and is a graduate of Syracuse University. You can follow him via Twitter @RichCimini. FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Injured quarterback Aaron Rodgers is back with the New York Jets on a full-time basis, eager to return to the field, setting up a big decision that will be made in the coming weeks. For now, the Jets have made a smaller decision at quarterback.

Despite a shaky performance Friday, career backup Tim Boyle will remain the starter.

“Yeah, we’re giving Timmy another shot to roll next week,” coach Robert Saleh said Saturday morning on a conference call with reporters.

Boyle, in his Jets’ starting debut, was sacked seven times, attempted only four passes over 10 air yards and was intercepted twice — including a Hail Mary that was returned 99 yards for a touchdown by safety Jevon Holland in the Miami Dolphins’ 34-13 win.

Saleh’s other options are Trevor Siemian, the No. 2 quarterback Friday, and just-benched Zach Wilson. Asked about Siemian after the game, Saleh said, “I’m not there yet.” The Jets host the Atlanta Falcons on Dec. 3.

The Jets (4-7), losers of four straight, are stuck in a season-long funk — with only 10 touchdowns by the offense. Rodgers’ injury, combined with an ever-changing offensive line, has resulted in a historically inept offense. The struggles were so profound against Miami that the Jets didn’t cross midfield until the fourth quarter.

Rodgers watched the mess from the sideline, wearing a headset. Instead of returning to California to continue his rehab, his usual routine, he remained in New Jersey — a key development in his bid for an unprecedented return from Achilles surgery.

From all indications, Rodgers — only 10 weeks removed from surgery — wants to start practicing in early December, with the hope of playing again this season. He’s said to be targeting the Dec. 24 game against the Washington Commanders.

“He’s in the building,” Saleh said, adding that he had no update on a potential practice date.

“When we get a doctor’s note that says he’s clear, he’ll be cleared for practice then,” the coach added.

That’s a simplistic take on the situation. Clearly, a risk-reward decision of this magnitude will be multilayered and will involve more than just the doctors. Saleh has said Rodgers will make the final call, saying the four-time MVP will play if he wants to — if he’s medically cleared.

Rodgers, who turns 40 on Dec. 2, would be taking a chance, considering the state of the offensive line. The Jets have started eight combinations and 12 different players, a league high. They’ve allowed 47 sacks. Left tackles Mekhi Becton (sprained ankle) and Duane Brown (hip) could return for the next game, Saleh said. Right guard Wes Schweitzer (calf) also is a possibility.

Boyle, who began the season on the practice squad after being released at the end of the preseason, was under duress throughout the game Friday. He completed 27 of 38 passes, but for only 179 yards.

“For the most part, I felt like I saw it well and I got the ball out of my hands,” Boyle said after the game. “I tried not to take sacks, but it’s part of the game.”

The offense was so restricted that, aside from the Hail Mary at the end of the first half, Boyle didn’t attempt a pass longer than 10 yards until the fourth quarter, when the game was out of reach.

“Obviously, there are things that he could’ve done better,” Saleh said. “There are things he had no control over, and I know he battled out there, and we were able to get to certain calls that we were hoping to do. We were able to execute a lot of the different things that we wanted to execute. It just didn’t come to full fruition.”

Embattled offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett apparently is in no danger of losing his job. Hackett received a vote of confidence from Saleh after the game. Saleh said “there is no consideration” to removing Hackett as the playcaller.

Hackett has a close relationship with Rodgers, which probably is a factor in his job security. Boyle credited Rodgers for helping him during the game, calling Rodgers “a peaceful, calming presence for me.” If Rodgers gets his way, soon the roles could be reversed.

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