If you watched Zach Wilson play last Sunday, or basically since he was drafted, this news won't shock you: Oddsmakers either don't see any difference between Wilson and any other quarterback on the New York Jets, or they think simply ditching Wilson is an upgrade.
The Jets were 4.5-point favorites at BetMGM against the Chicago Bears on Sunday before word came that Wilson would be benched. After the news of the benching broke, the line was Jets -4.5. There wasn't a change at BetMGM even before it was clear who would be taking over for Wilson.
A bit after news broke that Wilson was out, reports said the Jets would go with Mike White over Joe Flacco. The line was Jets -4.5 before and immediately after the White news at BetMGM. However, other sportsbooks moved the line to Jets -5 or even -5.5.
By late afternoon on Wednesday, BetMGM had shifted the line. It was Jets -6, though the news that Bears quarterback Justin Fields has a separated shoulder and partially torn ligaments is probably a factor as well.
Most of the time when a team benches its quarterback the line moves against that team. It's rare to see a point spread go the other way when a team benches its preferred starter for a backup. But oddsmakers think the Jets will play better with anyone but Wilson under center.
Zach Wilson has struggled
Jets fans probably aren't surprised that the move from Wilson is seen as a positive for the team.
Wilson has been pretty bad. He hit bottom last week against the New England Patriots, completing 9-of-22 passes for 77 yards. There was a lot of drama after the game, with teammates either ripping the offensive publicly or complaining privately that Wilson took no accountability. Jets coach Robert Saleh had to worry about losing his locker room if he continued to play Wilson. He said Sunday that he hadn't considered benching Wilson, then changed his tune on Monday by saying all options were on the table.
The Jets were 6-3 before the loss to the Patriots, but most of those wins were in spite of their quarterback. Wilson had the second-lowest passer rating among regular starting quarterbacks. He was better than only Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Kenny Pickett. That's why a change wasn't viewed in the betting market as a negative for the Jets. It couldn't be worse.
The question is if White will be much better.
Mike White gets the start
The memories of White are a little rosier than reality. He was good at times, particularly in a win over the Cincinnati Bengals. He threw for 405 yards in that game and that's what people have chosen to remember. They don't recall a four-interception disaster against the Buffalo Bills.
White threw 132 passes and eight of them were intercepted, for a really bad 6.1% rate. To put that in perspective, Davis Mills of the Houston Texans leads the NFL with 11 interceptions this season and throws them at a 3.4% rate, nearly half of White's career percentage.
Still, Jets players might rally around White. It seemed like they weren't too enamored with Wilson. Even average play at quarterback gives the Jets a chance to be really good, considering their defense.
We'll see if White can be that average quarterback. Oddsmakers don't think it'll be a downgrade.