In just his second NFL pre-season game, Zach Wilson looked more capable than anything the Jets have seen at quarterback in quite some time as the Jets beat the Packers 23-14. Continuing to impress with his poise, accuracy and decision making, Wilson would go 9-11 on the day for 128 yards and a pair of TD’s to tight end Tyler Kroft. Wilson played clean as he came away healthy and turnover free.
The Jets had the chance to watch Wilson make a big throw to Corey Davis while rolling out against pressure, throw a scoring strike as he went through and came off of targets in going through his progressions and hang in the pocket to complete passes with pressure in his face. It was a very good day for Wilson so we’ll continue down that road while also shining a light on some of the bad and the ugly.
Continuing on offense, rookie running back Michael Carter looked more explosive than he did last week, picking up 52 yards on 10 carries while Tevin Coleman made his Jets debut and ran the ball 4 times for 19 yards. Ty Johnson also ran it 6 times for 22 yards so not a bad day for the projected top 3 backs for the Jets in 2021.
Corey Davis had 4 catches for 70 yards and looks like a guy who is ready to live up to expectations as an ascending young receiver who can be the go-to guy for Wilson. And as we mentioned previously, tight end Tyler Kroft hauled in a pair of scores as he locks up the starting tight end role.
On defense, we have to mention Tanzel Smart who came in to camp as an afterthought after an underwhelming 2020 season and has stood out in each of the first two pre-season games. Smart looks far quicker off the ball than he did last season and was able to get penetration several times yesterday, often while facing two blockers. We’re not sure there’s much room for another D-lineman on this roster, but Smart ran with the starters yesterday and has placed himself squarely in the mix. Jeremiah Valoaga also looked good for second week in a row.
It looks like the Jets might have a kicker. After several seasons of mediocre musical chairs, Matt Ammendola was perfect on the day, drilling kicks from 54, 46 and 30 yards while making both extra points.
Little known safety JT Hassell was the standout on defense, forcing a fumble and picking up a sack. There’s not a great deal of depth at the spot behind Marcus Maye, Lamarcus Joyner and Ashtyn Davis at this point so the timing for Hassell couldn’t have bee much better.
Cornerback Brandin Echols picked up an interception this week following a big pass break up last week and should be hearing his name thrown around in discussion who starts opposite Bryce Hall because…..
The corners are bad. They were carved up by the Packers number 3 quarterback as rookie Isaiah Dunn, whom many hoped would steal a starting job, was picked on up and down the field. Bless Austin, who hasn’t looked much better, was held out for personal reasons and nobody outside of Hall looks like an NFL starting corner on the boundary.
Injuries continued to mount for a team that had been very healthy up until a few days ago. Jarrad Davis left the game early with an ankle injury, Connor McDermott was carted off with what looked like a knee and Mike White was pulled after taking a shot to the ribs. This of course after losing Carl Lawson for the season and multiple other players for an unknown time period during a pair of joint practices leading up to the game.
Speaking of White, he appears to have the second QB spot nailed down unless a veteran is added but the Jets seem to be trying to hide James Morgan when he’s on the field. Despite playing a healthy chunk of the second half, Morgan threw just 3 passes after attempting only 9 last week. He would go 1-3 for 5 yards.
Dan Feeney. The veteran lineman was pulled early in the first quarter when he was beaten badly on a 4th and 1 run. This, after getting tossed around a fair bit last week against the Giants. So far Feeney’s best moment as a Jet has oddly come as an Islander fan. The Jets depth along the interior offensive line has taken a hit with the retirement of Alex Lewis and injury to Cam Clark and it has shown. Feeney and Corey Levin have not been good at all. Jimmy Murray hasn’t been much better and it was a defender who blew up the interior and got to Mike White that led to the aforementioned rib injury against the pack.
The run defense. Green Bay was able to run it against the Jets starters and backups en route to 135 yards on the ground. Of course the team was without Quinnen Williams and Sheldon Rankins but they were also facing Green Bay’s second unit in many instances.
Next up…joint practices with the Eagles prior to the two team’s meeting up for their pre-season finale.