EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Robert Saleh’s intention was to play his starters, including his rookie quarterback, for about a half of the final preseason game. But injuries along the offensive line led him to change his mind, as he explained afterwards.
The good news is he’s certainly looked ready this summer, especially during his two preseason games. Wilson completed 15 of his 20 passes for 191 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions. That’s good for a passer rating of 137.7.
That’s pretty good, even considering they kept him well-protected with a lot of short passes and not many dangerous throws. He looked competent, capable, and did a great job of protecting the football.
Could he have used one more game? Sure. The more a rookie quarterback plays, the better. But against a Philadelphia Eagles defense that rested all of its starters, Saleh made the smart move not to risk Wilson on a wet day and questionable field. The most important thing at this point, especially given all the injuries the Jets have suffered this summer, is to make sure Wilson is healthy for Opening Day.
And the Jets feel pretty confident that if he’s healthy, he’ll be ready for whatever the Panthers throw at him. They know his rookie season will be filled with ups and downs, just like it has been for almost every rookie quarterback ever. But from what they’ve seen this summer, they think the good will outweigh the bad.
A few more snaps in the preseason wasn’t going to change anything about that.
Here are more takeaways from the final preseason game — a 31-31 tie against the Eagles.
Wilson wasn’t along in street clothes. Saleh also decided not to play RB Tevin Coleman, WR Corey Davis, WR Jamison Crowder, WR Elijah Moore, TE Tyler Kroft, C Connor McGovern, G Greg Van Roten, G Alijah Vera-Tucker, LT Mekhi Becton, LB C.J. Mosley, S Marcus Maye, DT Quinnen Williams, DT Sheldon Rankins, and DT John Franklin-Myers, among others.
It certainly notable which starters Saleh chose to play. He suited up both Morgan Moses and George Fant, who are battling for the right tackle job. Fant started at left tackle and Moses started on the right. Receiver Keelan Cole was out there for some reason, along with running back Ty Johnson, who might just be the Jets’ No. 1 back. Chris Herndon started at tight end in what might be his chance to stay on the roster. On defense, both of the Jets’ young corners — Bryce Hall and Bless Austin — started, as did defensive end Bryce Huff who has the unenviable job of replacing the injured Carl Lawson.
Josh Johnson did his best to convince the Jets that he should be the veteran backup to Wilson this season, and that they don’t need to scour the waiver wire next week. He completed 7 of his 8 passes for 73 yards and a touchdown, for a passer rating of 144.3. That included a terrific opening drive that ended with a two-yard touchdown pass to WR Lawrence Cager. Johnson hasn’t thrown a regular-season pass since 2018, but he’s a good mentor for Wilson and he’s talented enough to give the Jets a shot if he has to start a couple of games this season. Maybe more importantly, there aren’t any better options available at the moment, and there might not be after the final cuts are made next week.
And if Johnson makes the team as the backup, James Morgan might have done enough to stick as the third-stringer ahead of the injured Mike White. Morgan played the second half and went 13-of-23 for 152 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including a terrific, quick-strike, 21-yard pass over the middle to tight end Kenny Yeboah for a late touchdown and then an improbable 50-yard Hail Mary to Yeboah as time expired, leading to the tie.
I would not have predicted that Ty Johnson would emerge as the best running back in the Jets’ backfield, but there’s really no question about it. Tevin Coleman may be more versatile, but Johnson has been the best pure runner. He showed that again on Friday night, with 13 carries for 53 yards and touchdown.
Rookie LB Jamien Sherwood is going to get a lot of playing time with Jarrad Davis out until the bye week. He had a rough game on Friday night, though. He missed a couple of bad tackles early, including on what turned into a 49-yard scoring catch by Eagles RB Boston Scott.
Rookie CB Isaiah Dunn has had a good camp, but he had a really bad play on a 42-yard touchdown pass from Eagles QB Joe Flacco to WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Dunn was draped all over him, but let him slip through his hands. Adding to the mistake, safety Elijah Campbell was right there to knock Arcega-Whiteside out of bounds, but he couldn’t do it.
Defensive end Bryce Huff got nice pressure on a couple of plays, including one where he forced Flacco to step up in the pocket, where he was hammered by DT Foley Fatukasi for a sack/fumble. It would’ve been nice to see more from him against the Eagles’ backup offensive line, though.
Running back Josh Adams hasn’t gotten a chance to do much this summer in a very crowded Jets backfield, but he got his shot on Friday night and he runs hard. He finished with 62 yards on 12 carries, on a night when Coleman and La’Mical Perine were out. The running back group will almost certainly be Coleman, Johnson, rookie Michael Carter and Perine. But Adams certainly made his case.
One notable injury to monitor for the Jets: Rookie cornerback Brandin Echols left in the second quarter with a shoulder injury. It wasn’t immediately clear how serious it was. Echols was having a good summer and was a consistent playmaker in training camp. He was battling for a role in the Jets’ very young secondary.
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