Zach Wilson Shines as Jets Beat Packers 23-14 in Week 2 of NFL Preseason

Adam WellsAugust 21, 2021

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 14: Zach Wilson #2 of the New York Jets during the first quarter of a preseason game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on August 14, 2021 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images)
Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

In his second outing as the New York Jets starting quarterback, Zach Wilson led his team to a 23-14 preseason victory over the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. 

Wilson had a solid debut last week against the New York Giants. This year's No. 2 overall pick went 6-of-9 for 63 yards and led one scoring drive on two possessions. He was even better in an expanded role with 128 yards and two touchdowns today. 

The Packers played this game without their top two quarterbacks. Aaron Rodgers isn't expected to play at all in the preseason, while Jordan Love recovers from a shoulder injury suffered in the second quarter of the preseason opener last week. 

That left Kurt Benkert and Jake Dolegala as Green Bay's top two quarterbacks. Benkert wound up playing virtually the entire game until the team's final offensive possession. He fared well with 151 yards, one touchdown and one interception. 

Notable Game Stats

  • Zach Wilson (NYJ): 9-of-11, 128 yards, 2 TD
  • Michael Carter (NYJ): 10 carries, 52 yards
  • Corey Davis (NYJ): 4 receptions, 70 yards
  • Kurt Benkert (GB): 18-of-25, 151 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
  • AJ Dillon (GB): 4 carries, 28 yards; 2 receptions, 12 yards
  • Malik Taylor (GB): 4 receptions, 66 yards

Wilson Continues to Dazzle in Preseason

Even with the usual caveats about the preseason, Jets fans and coaches have to be very excited about what they have seen from Wilson in two starts. 

The 22-year-old played four series in the first half, scoring on three of those possessions. His favorite target was free-agent addition Corey Davis, who had 41 yards on back-to-back receptions late in the first quarter. 


The <a href="https://twitter.com/ZachWilson?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ZachWilson</a> to <a href="https://twitter.com/TheCDavis84?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TheCDavis84</a> connection is heating up. 🔥<br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NYJvsGB?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NYJvsGB</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/nflnetwork?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@nflnetwork</a> (or check local listings)<br>📱: <a href="https://t.co/cpzdYUarjZ">https://t.co/cpzdYUarjZ</a> <a href="https://t.co/NEQwy8tX9e">pic.twitter.com/NEQwy8tX9e</a>

Those two plays set up Wilson's 18-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Kroft that put the Jets up 10-7. 


.<a href="https://twitter.com/ZachWilson?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ZachWilson</a> to <a href="https://twitter.com/Kroft86?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Kroft86</a>! Touchdown <a href="https://twitter.com/nyjets?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@nyjets</a>!<br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NYJvsGB?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NYJvsGB</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/nflnetwork?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@nflnetwork</a> (or check local listings)<br>📱: <a href="https://t.co/cpzdYUarjZ">https://t.co/cpzdYUarjZ</a> <a href="https://t.co/u51PcDQfi1">pic.twitter.com/u51PcDQfi1</a>

Dan Orlovsky @danorlovsky7

Loved 3 things by <a href="https://twitter.com/ZachWilson?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ZachWilson</a> on TD throw<br>1-snaps his eyes to #2 in progression right-to-left-DECISIVE/REACTIONARY <br>2-took a little off the ball tempo wise to get up over LBs/allow TE to adjust/gather himself<br>3-placed ball back-shoulder to avoid bigger hit off FS<br>👏👏 <a href="https://twitter.com/nyjets?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@nyjets</a>

Kroft was Wilson's go-to option in the red zone, with both of his catches going for touchdowns. 


How about that half for <a href="https://twitter.com/ZachWilson?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ZachWilson</a>?! <br><br>9/11, 128 pass yards, &amp; two TDs, including this one to <a href="https://twitter.com/Kroft86?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Kroft86</a>. <br><br>📺: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NYJvsGB?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NYJvsGB</a> on <a href="https://twitter.com/nflnetwork?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@nflnetwork</a> (or check local listings)<br>📱: <a href="https://t.co/cpzdYUarjZ">https://t.co/cpzdYUarjZ</a> <a href="https://t.co/MfzACeaPp2">pic.twitter.com/MfzACeaPp2</a>

While the entire stat line for Wilson looks great, perhaps the most impressive part of his performance came on throws of at least 10 yards:


Zach Wilson on 10+ yard throws in the 1st half:<br><br>✈️ 3-3<br>✈️ 69 Yards<br>✈️ 1 TD <a href="https://t.co/kUILpPgt17">pic.twitter.com/kUILpPgt17</a>

The Jets have been burned a couple of times by first-round quarterbacks in recent history. Sam Darnold was traded to the Carolina Panthers after just three seasons because of his struggles under previous head coach Adam Gase. 

Mark Sanchez won 24 games in his first two seasons, including the playoffs, but Rex Ryan's defense was clearly carrying most of the burden for those teams that reached the AFC Championship Game in 2009 and 2010.

Wilson's raw talent made him as tantalizing as any quarterback in this year's draft class. The early returns from his first two preseason games give the Jets plenty of reason to be optimistic about what the future holds for the franchise.   

Running Backs Shine for Packers in Defeat

Barring a catastrophic situation at quarterback, Kurt Benkert is unlikely to see the field during the 2021 regular season for the Packers. 

That leaves one of the most important evaluations from Saturday's game in the backfield. A total of six players combined for 135 yards on 32 carries against the Jets defense. 

AJ Dillon was very good with 28 yards on four carries in one series. The second-year back should see an increased workload this season with Jamaal Williams now playing for the Detroit Lions. 

Lily Zhao @LilySZhao

It's always fun watching AJ Dillon play. Took some guys for a ride on that first down run.

Head coach Matt LaFleur seemed to make a point of getting the ball to Dillon on the Packers opening possession. He also caught two passes for 12 yards on a drive that lasted eight plays and ended in a Benkert touchdown throw to Kylin Hill. 

Matt Schneidman @mattschneidman

Kurt Benkert, AJ Dillon, Kylin Hill and the Packers march right down the field. Hill scampers around the right edge for a 12-yard touchdown run to give the Packers a 7-3 lead. Benkert over 10 yards per completion, Dillon 7 yards per rush, Hill his second TD in as many weeks..

Ralph Vacchiano @RVacchianoSNY

AJ Dillon and Kylin Hill combined for 5 carries for 40 yards and a TD on that drive.<br><br>QB Kurt Benkert was 3 for 3 for 35 yards. <a href="https://t.co/VZgTJoSs0a">https://t.co/VZgTJoSs0a</a>

Patrick Taylor, who went undrafted out of Memphis last year, led all Packers players with 48 rushing yards on eight carries. He may have hurt his case for a roster spot with a lost fumble on the first play of the third quarter. 

Aaron Jones is entrenched as Green Bay's starter at running back. He has racked up 3,017 yards from scrimmage and 30 total touchdowns over the past two seasons combined.

Dillon, the team's second-round pick last year, appears ready to take on an expanded role. Hill could be in the driver seat for the No. 3 spot after a strong outing today.