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NY Jets-Green Bay Packers: 3 biggest first-half takeaways

Zach Wilson, George Fant, NY Jets, Green Bay Packers, Preseason
Zach Wilson, George Fant, NY Jets, Getty Images

Recapping the first half of New York Jets-Green Bay Packers

Jets leaders

  • PASSING: Zach Wilson: 9-of-11, 128 yards, 2 TD
  • RUSHING: Ty Johnson: 6 carries, 22 yards
  • RECEIVING: Corey Davis: 4 receptions, 70 yards

Packers leaders

  • PASSING: Kurt Benkert: 12-of-16, 103 yards, 1 TD
  • RUSHING: Kylin Hill: 7 carries, 29 yards, 1 TD
  • RECEIVING: Malik Taylor: 3 receptions, 53 yards

Zach on the Attack

New York Jets fans must continue to repeat the mantra of “it’s only preseason”…but it’s hard not to feel the hype around Zach Wilson after a strong first half on the grass Starr, Favre, and Rodgers previously patrolled.

Wilson fostered connections with Corey Davis (70 yards on a quartet of receptions) and Tyler Kroft (two touchdowns totaling 36 yards) through four strong drives, completing 9-of-11 passes in the process.

The most encouraging part of Wilson’s outing is probably the poise he displayed under pressure and his dealing with adversity. Dealing with collapsing pockets – this team misses Alijah Vera-Tucker – Wilson made smart decisions and avoided sacks.

On his first touchdown, an ineligible man downfield penalty threatened to kill the New York momentum, but Wilson kept his cool and found Kroft for his first score of the day, and the first unofficial tally of his NFL career.

Defense Gets Grounded

Blaming the Jets’ first-half defensive struggles on the loss of Carl Lawson is a failsafe excuse, but that really wasn’t the case on Saturday. The Jets did get some pressure on the Green Bay backfield – John Franklin-Myers was a consistent invader – but they allowed the Packers to waltz down the field far too easily.

The ultimate insult took up most of the second quarter in the form of a 19-play, 81-yard play drive that took over 10 minutes.

Green Bay picked on undrafted cornerback Isaiah Dunn, and a C.J. Mosley penalty on a 12-yard third-down allowed the Packers to continue their touchdown trek. In one damning statistic, the Jets defense allowed Green Bay to convert 5-of-8 third downs. One of the stops was immediately erased through a fourth-down tally.

To make matters worse, the Jets were forced to use the playing area to safely transport another injured starting defender off the field.

Linebacker Jarrad Davis was able to leave on his own strength, albeit with a noticeable limp, but was taken back to the locker room on the same method of transportation that took Lawson and Zane Lewis to their season-ending diagnosis. Blocker Connor McDermott was likewise lost to an apparent knee on the final drive of the half.

Special Teams Looks Special

The special teams film room should be a jolly meeting location this week, as several skill players made names for themselves.

Matt Ammendola got New York scoring off to a good start through the previously unthinkable: a 54-yard field goal.

The Jets’ lone fruitless drive overseen by Wilson ended in a Braden Mann punt. Mann pinned the Packers inside their own 15, his fourth punt that landed inside the 20 so far this preseason.

Finally, Corey Ballentine made his case to reclaim his spot in the kick return game, as a 73-yard return allowed the Jets to not only make a strong response to Green Bay’s second touchdown, but give Wilson a prime opportunity to end his day on a perfect note.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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