Jets football is back.
Well, sort of.
On Saturday night, the Jets faced their cross-town (technically cross-stadium) rivals, the New York Giants, to kick off their 2021 campaign. A smattering of fans representing both teams filled MetLife Stadium. But the game itself, a 12-7 slugfest, was unimportant.
Zach Wilson and the Jets Offense Starts Strong
All eyes were on Zach Wilson, the Jets’ rookie quarterback, as he took the field for the first time in his NFL career.
Wilson played two series, completing six out of nine passes for 63 yards (an average of seven yards per attempt and 10.5 yards per reception). He did not turn the ball over and he did not take a sack. Wilson looked calm in the pocket, settling into a rhythm as the game went on. Generally, he delivered balls on time and was accurate. Two of his incompletions could have been blamed on the intended target – Tyler Kroft tripped while running a route and Corey Davis did not turn his head on an out route. However, both throws fell incomplete nonetheless.
The Mims Enigma
The Denzel Mims mystery continued, as the wide receiver only saw reps with the third team and kickoff unit. Despite limited reps, he still made his presence known, refusing to go down on a 20-yard reception. He caught three of four targets for 51 yards.
Jets’ Young Defenders Impress
On the other side of the ball, young players shined. Rookie LB Hamsah Nasirildeen forced a fumble, which was recovered by UDFA DL Michael Dwumfour. Sixth-round CB Brandon Echols had some nice deflections, and second-year DE Bryce Huff hounded Giants QB Mike Glennon. Additionally, Huff had 3 tackles and 2 sacks. Rookie DL Jonathan Marshall safetied Giants QB Clayton Thorson near the end of the game. As a whole, the entire defensive unit shined, allowing just 163 yards of total offense.
The lone Giants touchdown came in the middle of the 4th quarter after TE Kenny Yeboah fumbled and Giants CB Rodarius Williams had a strong return.
Special Teams and More
The special teams battle appears to be leaning in favor of Matt Ammendola, who was excellent on kickoffs and hit a PAT. Chris Naggar made a field goal from 30 yards out but had an ugly miss from 53 that wobbled low and to the left. The star of the unit, however, was punter Braden Mann, who averaged 46.2 yards per punt, with three of five boots landing inside the 20-yard line.
Jets HC Robert Saleh won his first unofficial game as a head coach. However, that wasn’t the only thing he won – in the third quarter, he threw the challenge flag to contest a yardage call.
The Jets will look to win back-to-back preseason games next week when they take on the Green Bay Packers up at Lambeau Field.