FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Tim Boyle looks back at his first three NFL starts two years ago and sees a different quarterback.
That version of himself wasn't nearly as prepared — mentally or physically — as he believes he is now while heading into his first start with the New York Jets on Friday against the Miami Dolphins.
“You've got to feel like you’re dangerous out there,” Boyle said Tuesday. "You can’t go into a play or a series thinking with any doubt. Confidence is critical going in there and feeling like I’m the guy and that I’m not going to miss. That’s kind of the focus.
“But, yeah, confidence is everything playing quarterback.”
The 29-year-old Boyle is stepping into the huddle in place of the benched Zach Wilson, who had started past nine games for the injured Aaron Rodgers.
It'll be the first significant playing time for Boyle since he started three games for Detroit during the 2021 season, which he started on injured reserve because of a broken right thumb. He went 0-3 in those games and his numbers were hardly eye-popping: 61 of 94 for 526 yards and three touchdowns with six interceptions.
And Boyle's struggles weren't all just on the field.
“I feel like my actual play on the field has changed since then,” Boyle said. "I came off my thumb injury and those three starts I had in Detroit, I didn’t really feel like myself. I felt like I was healthy enough to play, but truthfully, I really didn’t feel like I was confident, like that ‘dangerous’ feeling I was talking about earlier.
“So, I’m just coming back to myself and believe in myself. The confidence is high right now, but I feel like I’m seeing it well, I’m throwing it well. And that’s ultimately what’s playing quarterback's all about.”
Wilson and the Jets struggled mightily this season after Rodgers went down just four snaps into his debut with New York. Coach Robert Saleh and his staff made some tweaks last week, but offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett's unit still couldn't do much in a 32-6 loss at Buffalo on Sunday.
Wilson was pulled late in the third quarter and Boyle came in and went 7 of 14 for 33 yards and an interception. Saleh made the decision Monday to bench Wilson — and make him the No. 3 quarterback — this week, with Boyle the starter and Trevor Siemian his backup.
“I don’t think I was scapegoated,” Wilson said. “Absolutely not. I mean, you've got to look at the situation. We’re not scoring touchdowns.”
The Jets (4-6) have just nine on offense in 10 games. Their struggles on third down and in the red zone are on track to produce the worst efficiency ratings in NFL history.
With the Jets trying to snap a three-game skid and remain in the AFC playoff hunt while Rodgers aims to return later this season, New York turns to Boyle to try to spark a stagnant offense.
“One person is not going to change everything,” Saleh said. “It’s collective, it’s coaching, it’s the other 10 players on the football field. We all have to take part and try to find ways to get the offense to move. I'm excited for his opportunity, for him.”
With a patchwork offensive line often providing little protection or time for the quarterback, Boyle thinks his quick release could help.
“I think my priority this week is going to be getting the ball out on time, not trying to take sacks,” he said. “Just getting the ball in our playmakers' hands and let them have fun with it and just keeping us on pace. I want to get down in the red zone and score some points.”
Boyle's football journey began with him helping Xavier High School in Middletown, Connecticut, win three championships. He went to UConn, where he started as a freshman but mostly struggled through three seasons with only one touchdown pass and 13 interceptions.
Boyle transferred to Eastern Kentucky and started 11 games as a redshirt senior and led the Ohio Valley Conference in yards passing. He was then signed as an undrafted free agent in 2018 by Green Bay, where he was a teammate of Rodgers for three seasons and worked under Hackett for two.
Boyle signed with Detroit in 2021 and split last season with the Lions and Chicago Bears before reuniting this year with Rodgers and Hackett in New York.
“I felt like I’ve always had the ability to play in the NFL,” Boyle said. "My college career's my college career. That’s in the past. I’m right where I should be right now. I believe in myself and other teams have believed in me, and that’s truthfully all that matters.
“So, accountability is No. 1 at quarterback. And I didn’t play well in college, but here I am, Year 6 in the NFL.”
NOTES: Siemian was signed to the active roster from the practice squad. ... CB Craig James was re-signed to the practice squad. ... The Jets held a walkthrough practice, but LT Mekhi Becton (ankle/knee), CB Michael Carter II (hamstring), and LB Samuel Eguavoen (hip) were listed as having not participated.
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