Instead of Aaron Rodgers, the Falcons will face Tim Boyle on Sunday

New York Jets quarterback Tim Boyle (7)  throws a pass against the Miami Dolphins during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium on Nov. 24, 2023, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Rich Schultz/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

New York Jets quarterback Tim Boyle (7) throws a pass against the Miami Dolphins during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium on Nov. 24, 2023, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Rich Schultz/Getty Images/TNS)

FLOWERY BRANCH — The New York Jets were expected to be the darlings of the AFC this season, but things went crashing down when Aaron Rodgers sustained a rupture Achilles only a few minutes into the season opener.

The Jets, who have a stout defense, attempted to play with former No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson at quarterback, but that was not sustainable.

The Jets (4-7) are set to host the Falcons (5-6) at 1 p.m. Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Coach Robert Saleh announced that Tim Boyle, who is 0-4 as a starter over his career, is set to make his second start of the season.

“We’re giving him another shot to roll next week,” Saleh said to the New York media on a conference call. “Obviously, there’s things that he could have done better, and there’s things that he had no control over, but I know he battled out there.”

Boyle, who’s 6-foot-4 and 232 pounds, started three games for the Lions in 2021, including a game against the Falcons in Arthur Smith’s first season as the head coach.

In that game, the Falcons won 20-16 on Dec. 26, 2021. Boyle, who played at Connecticut and Eastern Kentucky, completed 24 of 34 passes (70.6%) for 187 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He finished with a passer rating of 81.4.

The Falcons must get caught up on how the Jets will attempt to operate with Boyle as the signal-caller.

“You’re game-planning what they’re trying to do and obviously the personnel and the play-caller,” Smith said. “What’s their identity? Then a lot of it is stuff we have to correct because ... if something’s out there on tape that you haven’t shut down, they’re going to try it.”

The Saints moved the ball between the 20-yard lines against the Falcons and amassed over 444 yards. But the Falcons’ defense held them to making 5 of 6 field-goal attempts, as they kept them out of the end zone in the Falcons’ 24-15 victory.

Those big plays that the Saints connected on against the Falcons, the Jets will try to duplicate them.

“Maybe it will be a little bit different, but I’m sure they’ll take a shot at the midfield,” Smith said. “I mean, that’s been trending. All of those things. There are a lot of things that go into it.”

Boyle has some weapons.

Running backs Breece Hall and Dalvin Cook are playing well. Hall is the leading rusher, with 124 carries for 569 yards and two touchdowns. Cook has 50 rushes for 162 yards.

Garrett Wilson is the leading receiver, with 64 catches for 695 yards and three touchdowns. Tight end Tyler Conklin has been productive, with 39 catches for 414 yards.

“They’ve got a talented group of backs,” Falcons linebacker Nate Landman said. “Talented wide receivers, and they are going to play hard.”

The Falcons and the Jets held some spirited joint practices before the 2022 season.

“So, we know the mood in that building,” Landman said. “They are going to play hard. They have a great defense and a lot of weapons on offense. We’re going to have to bring our ‘A’ game this week for sure.”

Smith knows the Falcons must make adjustments.

“I won’t get into, certainly the specifics of what we’re going to game-plan, but yeah that’s part of it as you’re preparing for anybody,” Smith said. “What are their strengths? What’s their identity and personnel? Then, obviously, what’s hurt us and what we need to improve as well.”

The Jets defense has yielded 323.5 yards per game, which ranks 15th in the NFL. Because the offense is last in time of possession in the league (27:19), the defense has been on the field more.

Linebacker Quincy Williams leads the Jets in tackles, with 115. Defensive tackle Quinnen Williams anchors the defensive line, and cornerback Sauce Gardner is the top player in the secondary.

“They have a talented football team,” Smith said. “They have good skill players. It’s a fast team, a fast defense.”

The Falcons are 1-4 on the road this season, including a bad loss to the Cardinals on Nov. 12, their last time on the road.

“We have to go on the road (and be) a prideful group,” Smith said. “You know how it is every week in the NFL. We have to play better. We need this win, and they’re saying the same thing up there. There won’t be a lot of secrets with the intent, especially the way they play and the way we want to play. We’re looking forward to it. It’s a good challenge.”

This will be the 14th meeting between the Jets and the Falcons. The Falcons lead the series 8-5 and won the last meeting, 27-20 at Tottenham Stadium in London on Oct. 10, 2021.

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