Positivity has been rife around the NY Jets and their offseason, with the Duane Brown signing being the icing on the cake. When the preseason begins it only takes one moment, and in this case two drives, for that positivity to slowly be drowned by the angst around the extent of Zach Wilson’s injury.
While the Jets hold their breath and await the results of Wilson's expected arthroscopic surgery, let's look at five quiet storylines regarding this opening preseason match-up on a night overshadowed by Zach Wilson worry.
1. NY Jets run defense looked solid
Starting with a positive, the Jets' run defense was pretty consistently solid throughout the game. This is a credit to the defensive line who were solid throughout the game even when the starters left the field.
Later in the night, Micheal Clemons and Tanzel Smart caused disruption in what was a fairly positive outing for the Jets' defensive line.
Philadelphia gave Jason Huntley a fairly heavy workload, but the Jets were able to restrict him to just 3.0 yards per carry and got a couple of nice run stuffs throughout the game.
Even when in the red zone, an area where they were particularly weak last year, the Jets were able to force the Eagles to 4th-and-goal on the one-yard line after a couple of good stops. On the whole, defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich will be pleased with what he has seen
2. NY Jets pass defense looked shaky all game
Well, this is the Jets, who seem incapable of having a defense that impresses against the run and the pass at the same time. Although improving slightly toward the end of the game against third-stringer Reid Sinnett, the starters and the second-string defense were pretty shambolic.
They let Jalen Hurts stroll down the field with ease going for 6-of-6 and culminating in a soft, 22-yard touchdown to Dallas Goedert. Hurts and Gardner Minshew combined for 14-of-18 for 161 yards and a touchdown.
What's perhaps more frustrating is that it was reminiscent of last season. The opposition just seemed to move the chains calmly and never really looked uncomfortable when in possession.
The Eagles had a couple of moments where receivers were allowed uncontested receptions at the intermediate route level. Goedert's touchdown is perhaps the most prominent.
The hard drop of the cornerbacks in Cover 3 allowed Goedert to pass the linebackers unnoticed (Kwon Alexander should improve this) and make an uncontested catch for the touchdown, in the susceptible area under the defensive backs and above the linebackers over the middle of the field.
This was not an uncommon result last season as Ulbrich uses a lot of Cover 3 packages, and it happened on plenty of other defensive formations too.
With the upgraded talent on defense, Ulbrich needs to step up from what was an underwhelming season last year as Friday night's starters were breezed past far too easily
3. NY Jets run game was weak
On offense, the run game was pretty weak throughout the game. There were a couple of positive moments such as Zonovan Knight's touchdown and a couple of nice Breece Hall bounces to the outside.
Although La'Mical Perine had a couple of nice gains, it was quite an ugly outing for New York's running backs. Hall, Michael Carter, and Knight combined for just 33 yards on 14 carries.
Brandon Graham was particularly disruptive for the Eagles and their strong defensive line dominated the Jets when it came to the run, with rookies Jordan Davis and Nakobe Dean also making a couple of nice stops.
As a run-first team, I'm sure that aspect of the offense will begin to flow with more ease as the season approaches as it was by no means a strong offensive line that went up against the Eagles' starters on defense, but nevertheless, they were shaky when it came to run blocking.
4. Tyler Conklin will be the NY Jets' TE1
Adding both Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah in free agency, it's fair to say that this offseason was a much-needed reboot on Gang Green's tight end room.
Although earlier this year Uzomah was favorite to be the first name at tight end on the depth chart, the narrative trickling down from training camp seems to be that Zach Wilson is building a strong connection with Tyler Conklin.
He has been Wilson's most targeted receiver on most days of training camp and that showed with Wilson's third-down pass to Conklin in the first quarter. Wilson's next completion was a rollout designed for Conklin as well.
Despite Conklin seemingly cementing his place as the top tight end, the Jets will run a lot of 12 personnel this season. Having two strong and reliable tight ends will be a huge factor in Wilson and the offense's development.
Given how minimal the Jets support has been at tight end, the Conklin connection growing is undoubtedly a positive sign for things to come.
5. NY Jets risers and fallers
Much to fans' dismay, Denzel Mims' stock just took another hit on Friday night. A frustrating performance from him capped off by a needless penalty was a fitting way to end a rough night for him. Although much of the pre-match chatter surrounding the game would be the amount he would play, he made a pretty minimal impact when on the field.
In terms of stock trending up, however, Tanzel Smart and Zonovan Knight were two notable standouts from the game.
Smart has bounced between the practice squad and active roster in New York for almost two years, but he was impressed when given the opportunity and finished up the night with three tackles and two sacks. The Jets are in need of depth on the interior of their defensive line so Smart's solid performance should be noted by the defensive staff.
Knight, the undrafted rookie out of NC State also impressed last night. He made an excellent play to stay on his feet and force his way into the endzone for his first touchdown in green and white.
The rookie running back also looked pretty slippery on kick returns when given the opportunity, including a nice return from his own end zone up to the 45-yard line, giving the Jets the dream start to what would end up being the game-winning drive.
Zach Wilson's injury will undoubtedly be the most defining and memorable moment from this game, and it will be a long hold of breath until he actually undergoes surgery.
Although it is hard to think positively of the preseason after having to endure the pain of watching a second-year QB go down with what was originally feared to be a serious injury, we did see glimpses of why the preseason can be so vital.
That is for players like Tanzel Smart and Zonovan Knight to use this opportunity as a platform to showcase their talent to the coaching staff.