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Jets 23, Packers 14: Zach’s What I’m Talkin’ About!

NFL: New York Jets at Green Bay Packers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

It was just the second preseason game. Zach Wilson and the New York Jets offense were going up against mostly Green Bay Packers backups. It doesn’t mean a thing. Repeat, it doesn’t mean a thing. But lord almighty, that was fun to watch. Wilson and the Jets offense torched the Packers to the tune of 9 for 11 passing, 128 yards, 2 touchdowns and 17 points in the kind of first half explosion Jets fans have been starved for for years. Green Bay Packers fans will rightfully point out the Jets were facing backups, but Jets fans won’t care. For one half of outstanding football, the Jets looked like they finally have a quarterback, and it was glorious. No doubt trying times lie ahead for the Jets rookie. Nobody emerges from their rookie season unscathed. There will be times when defenses show him looks he hasn’t seen before. There will be turnovers and bad decisions and games where he struggles. But for now, let’s just bask in a rookie quarterback who looks unequivocally like he belongs out there. Poised, calm, accurate, making good decisions: my goodness, is this really a Jets quarterback? Time will tell if this guy works out over the long run, but for now it sure is fun watching the earliest moments unfold.

On the other hand, the Jets defense looked a little bit lost out there when mostly starters were on the field. They were repeatedly gashed by the Packers running game and could not get off the field on third down against the Packers third string quarterback. It was not the kind of performance we were hoping for after Carl Lawson was lost for the season.

With the usual provisos that preseason games are something shy of meaningful, and performances that amount to a handful of snaps with and against backups are usually not worth analyzing, let’s talk about what was good and not so good in the Jets win against the Packers.

THE GOOD

Zach Wilson. Poised, accurate, in complete command, Wilson was the embodiment of what Jets fans have been looking for in a quarterback for what seems like forever. Sure, it came against Green Bay backups, but it was hard not to get excited about what we were seeing out there as Wilson carved up the defense. I look forward to seeing what he can do against the opponents’ varsity guys when the season starts.

Corey Davis. Zach Wilson’s favorite target in the preseason, Davis repeatedly burned the Packers’ defensive backfield. Four receptions for 70 yards in limited first half action is pretty darn good.

Michael Carter. The Jets’ leading rusher in this game, Carter ran hard and racked up 52 yards on 10 carries.

Corey Ballentine. Ballentine’s only path to a roster spot is likely as a kick returner. A 73 yard kick return can do nothing but help his cause on a day when other Jets returners were having little success.

Matt Ammendola. Currently the only kicker on the Jets roster, the job is there for Ammendola to win. Three for three on field goals, including a 54 yarder that would have been good from 60 yards, along with some booming kickoffs, certainly help Ammendola’s chances.

Tyler Kroft. Two receptions, two touchdowns. A very nice day indeed for Kroft on a team that needs somebody, anybody to show a pulse at the tight end position.

J. T. Hassell. A sack and a forced fumble add up to a great day for Hassell.

Brandin Echols. Echols was solid in coverage, had a big third down stop, and nabbed an interception.

THE BAD

Mike White. For a second straight week White had the ball at the end of the half in a two minute drill, and for a second straight week he looked like he was wholly unfamiliar with the concept. Three pass plays produced just 25 yards and none of them stopped the clock. Does White not realize the object is to move the ball downfield and score with more than a minute left on the clock and multiple timeouts available to him? White produced just 14 more yards through the air for a ghastly total of 39 yards on 9 passes for the day before he was injured on a sack. We certainly hope for his complete and speedy recovery, but White simply does not look like an NFL quarterback.

James Morgan. If White is not an NFL quarterback, Morgan may not even be a practice squad quarterback. 1 for 3 good for 5 passing yards in a quarter of NFL action is ... uhhh .. not good.

Lamar Jackson. Jackson came up with a nice interception in garbage time against a 4th string quarterback, but otherwise looked like a liability out there once again. Burned on a third and long for a first down and penalized on another third down play for another first down, Jackson seems to hurt the Jets nearly every time he steps on the field.

Isaiah Dunn. Dunn struggled early on. He was repeatedly burned by second string Packers receivers.

The Jets 1st team run defense. The run defense was absolutely dominated in early action as the Packers offensive line repeatedly opened up holes for A.J. Dillon to rumble through.

The Jets pass rush. John Franklin-Myers got some good pressure on the quarterback early on, and J.T. Hassell got a sack on a blitz late in the game. Other than that, the Jets rarely applied much pressure to Green Bay passers in this game.

THE INJURIES

It’s been a brutal week for the Jets with multiple injuries. Starting linebacker Jarrad Davis left the game with a lower leg injury. Backup offensive tackle Conor McDermott left the game with what appeared to be a knee injury. Backup quarterback Mike White was leveled on a sack and forced to leave the game, though his injury did not appear to be serious. Hamilcar Rasheed left the game with what appeared to be a neck or head injury.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The big news for this game was the superb play of Zach Wilson and the Jets first string offense, albeit against Green Bay backups. The starting defense was disappointing, but perhaps understandably so after the devastating news of Carl Lawson’s season ending injury. In the end, the quarterback is the most important player on the field, and while it is still very, very early, we are beginning to gain just a glimmer of hope that finally, FINALLY, the Jets maybe, just maybe, have a quarterback that doesn’t suck. Zach’s what I’m talkin’ about!