Mired in a five-game slump that has seen their offense produce only 61 points, the New York Jets have benched quarterback Ken O'Brien for Sunday's AFC wild-card playoff game with the Kansas City Chiefs.
Pat Ryan will replace O'Brien. Ryan led the Jets to a victory at New England and to a 13-0 lead in another win against the Denver Broncos during New York's nine-game winning streak this season.
"I felt that we needed a lift and that Pat might give us a lift this week," Jet Coach Joe Walton said Wednesday in announcing the switch. "The biggest thing is we, as a team, need as much excitement and lift as we can get getting ready for the playoffs. We'll let Pat go in and see what he can do."
O'Brien was the NFL's leading passer through 11 games with a 107.9 rating and the Jets were 10-1, the best record in the league. O'Brien also led the NFL in passing last year.
But, in the team's five straight defeats to conclude this season, he slumped badly, throwing 12 interceptions and only 2 touchdown passes. Before that, O'Brien had 23 scoring passes and 8 interceptions.
O'Brien would not comment on the change.
Ryan, a nine-year veteran who was New York's starter for most of the 1984 season, has completed 34 of 55 passes for 342 yards and two scores.
In his only full game, a 31-24 victory at New England in the sixth week of the season, Ryan went 14 for 25 for 148 yards and a touchdown. He was 9 for 10 against Denver before injuring a rib and yielding to O'Brien.