Zach Wilson will start for Jets as Mike White is not cleared for contact

FLORHAM PARK, NJ — The New York Jets made an unexpected quarterback trade Friday, announcing that mike white is out Sunday with an unspecified rib injury and that former starter zach wilson is back in the lineup.

White, who had said Thursday he had no doubt he would be ready to face the Detroit Lions at MetLife Stadium, was not cleared for contact by team doctors, coach Robert Saleh said. White sought but did not receive clearance from outside doctors, Saleh said.

White “exhausted every measure” to try to find a doctor who would give him the green light, Saleh said, adding: “That opinion will not change and it has gotten to the point where we could drag this out until Sunday, but this is one of those deals we have to do what’s best for the player and protect the player from the player.”

Saleh said Wednesday that the Jets (7-6) were “still working like he was playing this week,” never mentioning that White had yet to be cleared for contact. There could have been some cunning in the game, keeping the Lions (6-7) in the dark for as long as possible.

White was cleared for practice, was a limited participant Wednesday and Thursday, but Saleh said they made “an organizational decision” Thursday night to make the switch.

The Jets did not announce their quarterback plans beyond Sunday. White could return Thursday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars, but Saleh acknowledged that it would be a “challenging” in a short week. White will be re-evaluated on Monday.

The Jets, in a playoff race for the first time since 2015, will turn to Wilson, who spent the past three games as the third inactive quarterback. He was elevated this week to QB2, replacing skinny joe. Saleh said the decision was made last Friday, two days before White injured his rib in a 20-12 loss to the Buffalo Bills.

White underwent an in-game X-ray and a precautionary CT scan at a Buffalo-area hospital after the game before flying home with the team. Both White and the Jets have been evasive about the exact nature of the injury, with Saleh refusing to confirm or deny a fracture.

White said repeatedly throughout the week that he was feeling fine and was getting ready to play.

“He’s not BS-ing,” Saleh said. “He feels good. He can throw a ball well. He has no pain. It’s a contact problem. If he was 7 on 7, he would be playing. But he’s not like that.”

According to ESPN Analytics, a win over the Lions would give the Jets a 34% chance of making the playoffs. His chances would drop to 14% with a loss.

The Jets had supported White in all three of his starts. They were 1-2 and averaging just 22 points per game, but he passed for 952 yards and was able to get every player involved. In all likelihood, he would have stuck around as a starter for the rest of the season, or as long as the Jets stayed in contention, even though Saleh said he intended to play Wilson again.

Now there is no choice.

“We feel very comfortable with Zach’s preparation as a starting quarterback,” Saleh said, adding that Wilson has been given “a normal workload” for a starter in practice and that he knew at the start of the week that there was ” a great possibility.” “That Wilson would have to start.

Wilson has won five of seven starts but has just four touchdown passes, an NFL-worst 56% completion rate, and just 183 passing yards per game. He was benched after a 77-yard performance against the New England Patriots on November 20. After the game, he created a firestorm by refusing to take any responsibility for a poor offensive outing. His comments irritated many players, the sources said. Three days later, an emotional Wilson apologized in front of the team.

The Jets described the bench as a “reset,” a chance for Wilson to improve his fundamentals without the pressure of having to prepare for an opponent.

“I definitely believe in myself,” Wilson said Wednesday when it was announced that he was promoted to No. 2. “Of course, I have all the confidence in the world, I think that’s the way it should be, but you have to be able to prove that.”

The Jets also ruled out the wide receiver. corey davis (concussion). star defensive tackle quinnen williams (calf) missed practice for the third day in a row, but the Jets didn’t call him out, hoping he could play.

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