Zach Wilson Efficient in Preseason Debut as Jets Beat Giants; Daniel Jones Sits

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIAugust 15, 2021

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) walks off the field against the New York Giants during a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
AP Photo/Adam Hunger

The New York Jets won the MetLife Bowl after beating the New York Giants 12-7 on Saturday at MetLife Stadium in the opening preseason game for both teams.

Zach Wilson, the former BYU quarterback who the Jets selected No. 2 in the 2021 NFL draft, completed six of nine passes for 63 yards in his professional debut.

Jets running back La'Mical Perine scored on a four-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. That proved to be the only touchdown either team scored all game, and it gave the Jets a 10-0 lead following the extra point.

The Giants cut the deficit to 10-7 courtesy of Damion Willis' 21-yard touchdown catch with 7:05 remaining in regulation prior to the extra point.

Big Blue had a last-gasp chance to tie or take the lead after getting the ball back with 1:46 remaining in regulation on its own 6-yard line, but Hamilcar Rashed and Jonathan Marshall sacked Giants quarterback Clayton Thorson for a safety to effectively seal the game.

Many starters on both teams rested, including Giants quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley.

The Giants offense struggled in defeat, amassing just 163 total yards of offense. Quarterbacks Mike Glennon and Thorson combined to complete just eight of 23 passes for 92 yards, and they were sacked five times.

The Jets started the three-game preseason with a win, and the Giants started their stretch with a loss.

Notable Performances

Jets QB Zach Wilson: 6-of-9 passing, 63 yards

Jets RB La'Mical Perine: 12 carries, 30 rushing yards, 1 TD

Jets WR Denzel Mims: 3 catches, 51 receiving yards

Giants QB Clayton Thorson: 5-of-16, 72 passing yards, 1 TD

Giants WR Damion Willis: 1 catch, 21 receiving yards, 1 TD

Giants WR David Sills V: 3 catches, 49 receiving yards

Wilson Debuts for Gang Green

Wilson enjoyed a respectable showing on Saturday highlighted by an exceptional proficiency on third down.

The 22-year-old had a pair of nine-yard passes to wide receiver Corey Davis on a 12-play, 92-yard drive that ended with Chris Naggar's 30-yard field goal. The latter pass led to the Jets getting a first down after facing a 3rd-and-6 on the Giants' 27-yard line:

New York Jets @nyjets

Wilson-to-Davis. Right on time.<br><br>📺 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NYJvsNYG?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NYJvsNYG</a> on WNBC &amp; <a href="https://t.co/IDocpYHJpV">https://t.co/IDocpYHJpV</a> <a href="https://t.co/73xEXKIwKo">pic.twitter.com/73xEXKIwKo</a>

Wilson later sliced a 16-yard pass to Keelan Cole on a 3rd-and-9 from the Jets' own 20-yard line:

New York Jets @nyjets

Move those chains.<br><br>📺 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NYJvsNYG?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NYJvsNYG</a> on WNBC &amp; <a href="https://t.co/IDocpYHJpV">https://t.co/IDocpYHJpV</a> <a href="https://t.co/fWeftMbg7E">pic.twitter.com/fWeftMbg7E</a>

As Pro Football Focus noted, Wilson was 2-of-2 on throws of 10-plus yards (25 yards total).

Andy Vasquez of the Bergen Record summed up Wilson's night:

Andy Vasquez @andy_vasquez

Zach Wilson's night is over. He was in for two drives and a little over one quarter, which was the expectation. <br>He finished 6-of-9 for 63 yards. He had a couple of nice third-down conversions and got rid of the ball quickly when pressure arrived. A solid showing. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Jets?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Jets</a>

Overall, it was a solid showing for Wilson as he learns on the fly en route to leading the Jets this season.

Giants Offense Struggles in Defeat

There's hope that the Giants can rebound from finishing with the second-fewest points in the league last year, especially considering the return of running back Saquon Barkley from a season-ending torn ACL and the additions of wideout Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney.

None of those players took part in Saturday's action, and the same went for Jones, who is about to enter his third NFL season.

Therefore, the largely second- and third-string Giants took the field Saturday, and they largely struggled.

New York was out-gained 316-163. The Giants also possessed the ball for just 20:11 compared to the Jets' 39:49. Gang Green also had 21 first downs to Big Blue's 11. In addition, the Giants went just 2-of-12 on third- and fourth-down opportunities.

Quarterbacks Mike Glennon and Thorson combined to complete just eight of 23 passes for 92 yards, and two of those passes encompassed 58 of them.

The running game contributed 16 carries for 105 yards, with Sandro Platzgummer gaining 48 of them on one carry. But Corey Clement also fumbled away the ball on the Jets' 3-yard line in the second quarter.

Overall, it wasn't a banner night for the offense, but that should be taken with a grain of salt given the short-handed roster in the preseason.

What's Next?

The Jets will travel to face the Green Bay Packers next Saturday at 4:25 p.m. at Lambeau Field.

The Giants will visit the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, August 22, at 1 p.m. ET at FirstEnergy Stadium.