New York Jets first-round draft pick Zach Wilson quickly learned that playing in the NFL is a little different than playing at BYU.
It was a brutal first half for Wilson and the Jets, completely unable to protect their franchise quarterback. Wilson was sacked six times for 51 yards in the game, and the Jets offense looked just as bad as it had under former coach Adam Gase.
Zach Wilson Passing in 1st Half:
0-of-4 on 3rd down
0-of-4 vs blitz
0-of-7 under duress
0-of-4 on play action
0-of-3 on deep passes (15+ air yds) pic.twitter.com/iFcStlaV4D
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 12, 2021
Until Wilson showed why he was the second quarterback taken in the 2020 NFL Draft.
After being pressured by Carolina’s defense for two and a half quarters, Wilson was finally able to get the Jets offense going, throwing for two touchdowns in the second half. His first NFL touchdown came with 1:26 left in the third quarter and the Jets down 16-0. Under pressure, Wilson rolled right and found Corey Davis in the end-zone for a 22-yard touchdown.
First career TD pass for @ZachWilson 🙌
— New York Jets (@nyjets) September 12, 2021
It was the kind of play that Jets fans have been looking for, as Wilson’s arm strength and play-making ability were on display during the preseason.
He finished the day 20-37 for 258 yards, with two touchdowns and a bad interception. The Jets running game was no help for Wilson, managing just 45 yards on 17 carries. New York was unable to recover an onside kick late in the fourth quarter, sealing a 19-14 win for the Panthers.
“We’re going to get these opportunities all season,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said after the loss. “This is a team that’s got grit, it’s a team that’s got fight, it’s a team that’s got resolve. And it’s a team that’s going to show up in the fourth quarter, in one score games, and whether or not we can close the door and make these plays to win these football games is going to be the difference between whether we win or lose.”
Former number three overall draft pick Sam Darnold — taken by the Jets in the 2018 draft — got his revenge against his old team, throwing for 279 yards and a touchdown.
While Darnold did lose a fumble deep in New York’s territory, he didn’t throw any interceptions on the day, a big issue in his time in a Jets uniform. Unsurprisingly, Christian McCaffrey carried the offensive load for Carolina, rushing for 98 yards on 21 carries while pulling down nine catches for 89 yards.
To his credit, Darnold didn’t point any fingers when asked about his time in New York as he prepared to play against his old team.
“I feel like, for me, every opportunity I’ve found a way to kind of take advantage of,’’ Darnold told ESPN.com. “The Jets was kind of the first time in my life that I got something — and that was taken away from me, for multiple reasons.”
“I definitely didn’t play good enough in my stint there. And I put it on myself.’’
Carolina will get a much tougher test next week against New Orleans. Wilson and the Jets will have their home-opener next Sunday against Mac Jones and the New England Patriots.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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