NY Jets know they must protect Zach Wilson after promising debut

NY Jets, Zach Wilson
NY Jets, Zach Wilson / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

As far as openers go, it was a rough one for the NY Jets and rookie quarterback Zach Wilson as they fell to the Carolina Panthers 19-14. Not only was Wilson sacked six times, but he was pressured nearly every time he dropped back to pass.

“Protecting the quarterback is a collective thing,” head coach Robert Saleh said to the media after the game. “It is not one position group’s job to protect the quarterback.”

In what was a miserable first half, Wilson went 6-of-16 for 84 yards and threw one interception. He was also sacked three times as he went into the tunnel with a 29.6 passer rating.

“That’s our guy, that’s our quarterback. We gotta protect him and today just wasn’t good enough,” wide receiver Corey Davis said after the game.

“The first half was rough. We couldn’t really establish a run game, a pass game. The second half kind of looked a little bit better, but that’s not who we are. We’re a lot better team than that and we know it.”

The NY Jets know they must do a better job of protecting Zach Wilson

Wilson’s first career NFL touchdown pass did not come until late in the third quarter when he scrambled before finding Davis in the end zone for the 22-yard grab.

“It’s early in the season and especially with a young quarterback, they’re going to eat you up,” center Connor McGovern said. “It’s kind of what we expected and what we prepared for. We just need to execute better.”

Despite the early struggles, Wilson finished the day 20-of-37 for 258 yards and tossed two touchdowns for a QB rating of 82.9.

“I felt like I was seeing the field well, even early on when we struggled a little bit,” Wilson said. “I felt like I was seeing what I was supposed to be seeing and I just felt like we were a little bit short on execution.”

The rookie’s performance seemed to earn the respect of veteran linebacker C.J. Mosley as well.

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“I tell you what, No. 2 is going to win a lot of games for us,” Mosley said.