He prevailed despite playing behind a Jets offensive line of dominoes that allowed six sacks, and his teammates took notice.
After the game, linebacker C.J. Mosley had a short but powerful statement about the young Jets quarterback and told reporters:
"I tell you what, No. 2 is going to win a lot of games for us. It takes a lot to sit in that pocket, to have all the pressure and all the looks that he was getting, from what I saw, and for him to make some big-time throws to try to get us back in that game, I have a lot of respect for him."- C.J. Mosley
Now, "a lot" of games is definitely subjective. Mosley could be predicting five or six wins, which would be considered a lot based on last year's dismal record. But why not stretch it even further and say the Jets could *almost* clinch a winning record?
Wilson doesn't just wear the No. 2 on his back — he was also the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. In what many dubbed the "Sam Darnold revenge game," Wilson proved he was up to the task as the next Jets franchise QB.
NY Jets QB Zach Wilson gains teammates' respect after season opener
For the first two quarters or so, the game appeared to be lost in the natural way Jets games have been lost over the last two years: like the physical embodiment of watching hope wilt.
Wilson started 9-for-22 for only 93 yards, going 0-for-7 under pressure in the first half. Those pitiful fans who turned on the TV thinking this year might be their year (as they think every year) were ready to swear off the sport for good until...
Wilson found his groove and led two long touchdown drives. In the final 30 minutes, Wilson went 14-of-21 for 174 yards (including those two TD passes) to earn a 123.9 QB rating.
With just as abysmal pass protection as the first half, Wilson managed to turn the game around to give the Jets a shot at winning the game.
The Jets couldn't quite climb back from the early deficit, but Wilson's debut left his coaches and teammates understandably impressed.
Given Wilson's dramatic improvement in the second half, it only makes sense that Mosley already considers Wilson to be the "It" factor, the "X" factor, or just the defining factor in the Jets' success in 2021.
In his seven-year career, the veteran linebacker has probably seen his share of rookie QBs who get knocked down, and they don't get up again.
But maybe Wilson was listening to "Tubthumping" on repeat right before the game, or maybe he was ready for the challenges all along.
Adversity is, after all, the perennial theme of the Jets' seasons.
If this No. 2 can hurdle everything barreling his way this season — including but not limited to: more injuries, double-digit deficits, opposing pass-rushers making swiss cheese of the offensive line and trying to flatten him — he just might have a future in New York.