Wilson solid, efficient in Jets debut against Giants
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Three points, two drives and one solid debut for Zach Wilson.
The No. 2 overall draft pick was efficient in his first NFL preseason game, going 6 of 9 for 63 yards and leading the New York Jets to a field goal against the Giants' backups on defense in a 12-7 victory Saturday night.
"I thought it was good," Wilson said. "Of course, there's still things to clean up, but it was a great experience."
Robert Saleh, making his head coaching debut for the Jets, pulled Wilson and the projected offensive starters - as expected - after the second series stalled early in the second quarter.
"You just want him to get his feet wet, show that the game's not too big for him, which he obviously showed," Saleh said. "This young man's potential is through the roof."
Fans were back in MetLife Stadium for a Giants home game for the first time since Dec. 29, 2019, because of the coronavirus pandemic - but with Daniel Jones and most of their team's starters sitting out, the main attraction was Wilson on the other side.
The Jets won the coin toss, but Saleh deferred and put his defense on the field to start. After they held the Giants to a three-and-out, Wilson jogged onto the field.
He was 2 for 4 for 18 yards, including a 9-yard completion to Corey Davis on third-and-6 while marching the Jets downfield. But the drive fizzled after Wilson threw incomplete to Davis, and the Jets got a 30-yard field goal by Chris Naggar to take a 3-0 lead.
On his second series, Wilson looked comfortable while not making any high-risk throws. He led the Jets to three first downs.
The Jets got down to the Giants 42 on Wilson's 13-yard pass to Tyler Kroft on third-and-14. Saleh opted to go, but Ty Johnson was stuffed for a 1-yard loss to end the drive - and the night for Wilson. Mike White replaced him.
"He looked comfortable, especially on third down," Saleh said. "He made some good throws, directed the offense really well, got in and out of the huddle and we moved it very well for those first two series. So it was a good first day."
With Joe Judge holding out Jones, entering his third NFL season and second as the full-time starter, along with most of the starters, Mike Glennon got the start for the Giants. The 31-year-old backup, with his sixth NFL team, was 3 of 7 for 20 yards in three series before being replaced by Clayton Thorson in the second quarter. Glennon's last series ended with Corey Clement losing a fumble near the goal line.
"The first drive wasn't very good," Glennon said. "The second and third drives, we put together some long-play drives and just moved the ball. The last one, you don't want to end with the turnover on whatever yard line, we were inside the 5."
Thorson threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Damion Willis with 7:05 left. The drive was set up by Rodarius Williams' fumble recovery and 29-yard return after TJ Brunson knocked the ball out of Kenny Yeboah's hands.
"I think as a team, we started slow on both sides of the ball," Judge said. "And I saw some improvement as we went."
Thorson was shaken up with 1:39 left when he was sacked in the end zone by Jonathan Marshall and Hamilcar Rashed. Judge had no immediate word on Thorson's injury.
White led the Jets on their first touchdown drive, capped by La'Mical Perine's 4-yard run late in the third quarter for a 10-0 lead.
White finished 13 of 19 for 127 yards. He was replaced late in the third quarter by James Morgan, a fourth-rounder last year who made his NFL debut. He was 5 of 9 for 45 yards.
Giants running back Sandro Platzgummer, an Austrian who spent last season with New York as part of the NFL's International Player Pathway Program, had the longest play of the game: a 48-yard scamper in the fourth quarter.
Jets: DE Michael Dwumfour injured a calf in the first half and didn't return. The undrafted rookie out of Rutgers had a fumble recovery and a half-sack before he was hurt. ... DL Jabari Zuniga left with a knee injury.
Giants: Brunson was carted from the sideline with an apparent leg injury with 3:16 left. ... OL Kyle Murphy injured an ankle and didn't return. ... TE Cole Hikutini left with a hip injury.
While several of the Jets' starters played two series, running back Tevin Coleman did not play for what Saleh said was "personal reasons." Rookie left guard Alijah Vera-Tucker (pectoral) and wide receiver Elijah Moore (quadriceps) also didn't play.
A moment of silence for the late Greg Knapp was held in the stadium before the singing of the anthem. The 58-year-old Knapp, hired by Saleh as the Jets' passing game specialist, died July 22 - five days after being struck by a car while riding his bicycle near his home in San Ramon, California.
There was also a moment of silence in the press box for former New York Post columnist Jay Greenberg, who died Thursday. He was 71.
Jets: They travel to Green Bay for two joint practices before facing Aaron Rodgers and the Packers next Saturday.
Giants: They head to Cleveland and will have two combined practices with the Browns before taking on Baker Mayfield and the Browns next Sunday.
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Updated August 14, 2021