Zach Wilson was one of just two rookie quarterbacks to start their team’s preseason opener in 2021. He was expected to play about a quarter. He made his limited action count.
Wilson played two series and completed 6 of 9 passes for 63 yards in the Jets’ 12-7 victory over the Giants on Saturday night. He led the team to just three points, but he was pleased with his performance nonetheless.
“I thought I was good,” Wilson told reporters after the game. “Of course, still things to clean up, but it was a great experience.”
Wilson wasn’t the only one happy with his effort. Jets coach Robert Saleh came away impressed and excited about Wilson’s future.
“This young man’s potential is through the roof,” Saleh said.
As part of Wilson’s solid outing, he showed off his arm strength on a pair of throws. The first saw him connect with New York’s big free-agent signing at wide receiver, Corey Davis, as he fit the ball into a tight window.
Later, he hit Keelan Cole over the middle with a well-located strike for a first down.
Wilson has had his share of issues during training camp, interceptions in particular. The No. 2 overall pick’s sharp preseason debut came after a scrimmage he described as “not great.”
Saleh has maintained confidence in his rookie starter through the bumps in the road. He was happy that Wilson looked “comfortable” in his first game.
“We have so much confidence in the young man,” Saleh said. “You want him to stack up as many good days as possible but there’s still youth. He’s still a rookie and there’s still a lot of things that he’s going to learn from. There’s still a lot of opportunities for him to grow. And even here in this game, despite the fact that he looked comfortable and he did a nice job, there’s still going to be things that he can learn off of.”
Wilson will look to improve before the Jets’ second preseason game against the Packers, but on Saturday, he was just soaking in his NFL debut.
“I think that’s one of the coolest parts about the pregame warmups is walking around,” Wilson said. “You kind of just get to look around and be like, ‘You know, this is awesome. I get to play football for a living.'”