Although it is not a common circumstance, NFL teams have made the postseason with a rookie starting quarterback. The 9-4 New England Patriots are currently the top seed in the AFC with first-year QB Mac Jones, who was the 15th overall pick in the first round in last April’s draft.
The Jets also have a rookie quarterback, Zach Wilson, who was drafted 13 picks higher than Jones, chosen No. 2, but is on the other end of the spectrum. The Jets are in last place in the AFC East at 3-9 and have the third lowest win total in the league.
Whereas New England has their eyes on the playoffs and making a run for the Super Bowl, the Jets are focused on small, incremental steps. This past Sunday’s 33-18 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium can be viewed as progress for both Wilson and the team.
Wilson put up three touchdowns in the first half, two during the first quarter. In total he threw for two and ran for one, going 23-38 for 226 yards and one interception.
“Yeah, there were definitely improvements,” said Wilson after the game. Wilson noted he was able to make better decisions in limiting turnovers. In the season, in eight games played—he’s sat out four due to injury—Wilson has passed for 1,539 yards and has had 11 interceptions to just six touchdown passes.
“His footwork was awesome,” said head coach Robert Saleh, complimentary of his QB’s overall play. “I thought this was, by far, his best game in terms of just working progressions and playing within the scheme.”
Wilson’s performance versus the 6-7 Eagles came a week after his return after missing four straight recovering from a sprained PCL in his right knee. He helped the Jets earn a 21-14 road win against the Houston Texans. But against the Eagles, Wilson and the offense couldn’t make up for the Jets’ poor defense.
Eagles backup quarterback Gardner Minshew, filling in for injured starter Jalen Hurts, was 20-25 for 242 yards and Philly controlled the ball throughout the second half.
“It felt so good, man,” said Minshew of leading the Eagles to victory. “There’s nothing like that feeling. Glad to do it with this group of guys. They made it easy for me.”
The Jets will play the New Orleans Saints this Sunday (1 p.m.) at MetLife Stadium.