The New York Jets got off to a disappointing start to kick off their 2021 campaign.
They lost to the Carolina Panthers, 19-14, and left a lot to be desired throughout the contest.
Although despite the ugliness of an 0-1 start to the season, there were some morsels of hope for the present and future.
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Rookie Debut of Zach Wilson
For the very first time, rookie quarterback Zach Wilson ran onto the field for a regular-season game to make his NFL debut.
There were some low and high moments, most of which were decided by the level of play in the offensive line room, but he ended the game on a high note.
The former BYU stud attempted 37 passes and completed 20 of them for 258 passing yards and two touchdowns with one interception.
Any turnover for a quarterback is bad, but head coach Robert Saleh after the game called it a “lollypop” indicating a softball from his rookie passer.
The toss lacked some mustard and perhaps with more zing, it would’ve been a completed pass as opposed to a turnover.
What didn’t lack mustard was the second-half performance from the sensational 22-year old who put the old adage ‘it’s now how you start it’s how you finish’ and made it into a reality.
In the second half, Wilson completed 70 percent of his passes (14-of-20) for 173 passing yards, 8.6 yards per attempt, two touchdowns, and most importantly zero turnovers.
The Panthers punched this team in the mouth with an aggressive blitz-happy attack that forced the Jets into a corner. At halftime, they adjusted some of the protection calls and Wilson did what he does best, make plays.
Rookie Impressing Some Impressive People
Although that’s all talk, who knows how Wilson was going to perform when the lights were on him brightest but hearing positive talk coming off of Week 1 simply felt different.
Following the game, heaps of praise started to pour in.
It started with Carolina head coach Matt Rhule who after the game said Wilson is going to be a “special player” and he was really impressed with his toughness and ability to keep plays alive:
“He stood in the face of a lot of heat. We should’ve had more sacks but he kept getting out to the edge and he sees the field so well. You can sense his moxie, he’s only going to keep getting better and better.”
During the New Orleans Saints vs. Green Bay Packers game, national broadcaster and former three-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Troy Aikman said that he strongly believes Wilson is “going to be very good in this league.”
Then on Football Night in America, they finished off the action with a pair of widely respected football analysts sharing their praise:
- Chris Simms was impressed by “several wow throws” that left his jaw on the floor.
- Tony Dungy told Jets fans “to rest easy because they have found their quarterback” after all this time.
No one likes moral cookies, it’s a way for fans to feel better about a loss. Ultimately this is a league that is built on wins and losses and Gang Green ate a defeat. Although you can’t help but be encouraged by Wilson’s resiliency and his never-give-up attitude that was infectious to the rest of his teammates.