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Thoughts on Zach Wilson’s Preseason Debut

NFL: New York Jets at New York Giants Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets have proven they are the greatest football team in New York with their glorious 12-7 preseason triumph over the Giants last night.

Beyond this victory, the game was Zach Wilson’s professional football debut. The rookie quarterback ended the night 6 for 9 for 63 yards. Here are my takeaways from his performance.

Easy to keep things in perspective

Heading into this game I didn’t think the odds were good that people would come away from this game with reasonable takeaways. With Wilson playing only two series, every snap was magnified. If he led the Jets to a touchdown, people would be taking his measurements for a gold jacket in Canton. If he turned the ball over, the bust calls would begin. Late last week on the podcast I mentioned the only way I thought people would stay calm would be some neutral outcome like two field goal drives where he looked effective but didn’t do anything spectacular. We came close to that with one field goal drive and another promising drive that was doomed by a penalty. I think most people come away feeling pretty good with his play but avoiding ridiculous projections.

Keeping it simple

We don’t know the specific plays that were called. Nor do we have the benefit of the all 22 film in preseason. It did seem to me like the Jets were trying to keep things simple for Wilson. There didn’t seem to be many high difficulty reads or downfield throws. There certainly is a logic to this, easing the young quarterback in before opening things up in future weeks. You want to build success, and coming out with a bunch of high percentage passes was a good way to make that happen.

Mistake free football

I mentioned yesterday before the game that my biggest priority was to see Wilson avoid mistakes. I’d say that mission was accomplished. I didn’t think any of his throws were high danger. Of his three incompletions, two appeared to just be the result of mistiming between the quarterback and the receiver. That’s exactly the kind of thing you would expect in the first preseason game. The third incompletion came because Tyler Kroft stumbled releasing into his route after throwing a chip block and couldn’t find the ball in time. Wilson also hit a couple of tight window third down passes to extend drives, which is always a good sign.

Not that it matters much

I think it’s pretty clear Wilson passed his first test, but let’s be honest. A month from now nobody is going to remember or care about this game.

But for today I encourage you to enjoy the potential of your rookie quarterback, Jets fans.