The Jets fell to 0-2 on the season with a 25-6 loss to the Patriots (1-1) at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. In a battle of rookie QBs, New England signal-caller Mac Jones, taken No. 15 overall in April's draft, had a turnover-free day while the Jets' Zach Wilson, taken No. 2 overall, struggled through a difficult afternoon with four interceptions.
Wilson's Interceptions Costly
Making his regular-season debut at MetLife Stadium, Wilson was intercepted four times including three in the first half. Wilson's first two passes resulted in interceptions as he attempted to force the issue to Corey Davis. Pressured up the middle on the first pick, Wilson threw over the middle to Davis in a highly-trafficked area. After a couple of Pats' deflections, CB J.C. Jackson recorded the first of his two thefts.
"They were in man coverage and I had CD over the middle working a 1-on-1," Wilson said. "Based on how the guy was playing, I probably just shouldn't have thrown it. That's really what it comes down to. I was still within my timing when I threw that ball. It didn't matter where No. 8 was. Of course when we get to the sideline, they're talking about how they can pick up No. 8 and all that, but it had nothing to do with the throw."
Wilson was aggressive on the ensuing possession, targeting Davis on a rollout with WR Elijah Moore open underneath. His ball sailed high and Davis only could get his fingertips on it with the deflection flying into the hands of S Adrian Phillips.
While the Pats turned the first two turnovers into 10 points (Nick Folk 46-yard field goal and James White 7-yard rush TD), Wilson's third INT took possible Jets' points off the board. In plus-territory at the 28, Wilson threw down the right sideline to Elijah Moore. Instead Jackson, who recorded 14 interceptions in 2019-20, came up with his second of the afternoon.
With their rabid fans back at MetLife Stadium for a regular-season game for the first time in nearly 21 months, the stage was set for a quick start. But the Jets faced a 13-3 deficit at intermission with Wilson connecting on 3 of 7 for 45 yards.
"They do a good job, they're one of the best man-coverage teams in football and I'm sure there's a few throws that Zach wants back obviously," HC Robert Saleh said. "But there was nothing schematically that the offense wasn't prepared for."
Saleh later added: "When you have a rookie quarterback, and they have a rookie quarterback too, it's having confidence that it's okay to play a boring game of football. That's really it. He's an electric dude, he's competitive as crap and he wants to win so bad. But sometimes it's okay to be boring and that's probably the biggest lesson we can take out of this one."
Things got worse before they got better. On a second-and-28 play early in third, Wilson tried to get it all back and then some to Moore. But the rookies weren't on the same page as veteran S Devin McCourty hauled in an errant toss.
Later Wilson got the Jets back into scoring territory but was sacked for by DL Carl Davis for a 9-yard loss on third down. Ammendola came on and misfired on a long attempt, nailing the left upright from 53 yards out. Wilson was sacked four times Sunday and has been sacked 10 times in two games.
"It really comes down to I have to make better throws and better decisions and get on the same page with my guys," Wilson said. "There are times at the end, in two-minute situations where guys are falling off, I do have to get down to my checkdowns more. I threw a couple, but there were a couple I should've thrown quicker. I would say at the end of the game, it does get tough because now you are trying to score a lot of points and you know you have to push the ball down the field. It's sometimes tough to just throw a checkdown in that situation."
Patriots rookie QB Mac Jones had a workmanlike day at the offensive controls, connecting on 73.3 percent of his throws for 186 yards.
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Solid at the Line of Scrimmage
The Jets defense had 7 tackles for loss and received sacks from S Marcus Maye, DL John Franklin-Myers and DT Sheldon Rankins.
And the Jets set the tone in the run game on the offensive side of the ball, totaling 152 yards yards on their first 31 carries. The Jets had four ball carriers — Tevin Coleman (17), Ty Johnson (17), Michael Carter (13) and Wilson (10) — with a rush of at least 10 yards. Unfortunately, the Green & White had to settle for a Matt Ammendola field goal on the Jets' first trip inside the red zone when Ty Johnson was stuffed in the backfield on a third-and-goal play from the 2.
"I've just been very aggressive," said Jets DL Shaq Lawson, who had 4 tackles and 2 TFLs. "Today I actually felt like myself and I haven't said that in a minute."
Lawson added: "I don't care if we're down 22-3. Our defense gets a big stop, our offense makes a big play, I'm going to celebrate with those guys. At the end of the day, it's a team effort and I'm going to pick those guys up every time."
Michael Carter X2
Two of the bright spots for the Jets on Sunday were rookies of the same name, RB Michael Carter and CB Michael Carter II. Carter, a fourth-round pick from North Carolina, ran hard all afternoon while picking up 59 yards on his first 11 carries. He also chipped in with 2 receptions for 29 yards. Carter II had 8 tackles and one of the defense's 7 stops for loss.
"First of all, our offensive line blocked it up," Carter (the RB) said. "We came in with the right mindset today and I feel like our mindset our a team is right. I feel like we're developing into a championship mindset every day. In a fight, you're going to get hit, but as long as you hit back, that's a sign of growth. I feel like even though we lost today, we grew as a team."
Veteran wideout Jamison Crowder (groin) was among the gameday inactives along with WR Denzel Mims, RBs La'Mical Perine and Josh Adams, LB Jamien Sherwood, CB Jason Pinnock, and DT Jonathan Marshall. Crowder, who started the season on the reserve/Covid list, was listed as questionable Friday due to a groin injury. With Crowder out of the lineup, Braxton Berrios had a team-high 7 receptions for 73 yards. … Linebacker Quincy Williams started at linebacker after he was inactive last week and had big hit on RB James White on a short pass. … Adrian Colbert, who was elevated from the practice squad for a second straight week, started at S for Lamarcus Joyner, who was placed on injured reserve (triceps) earlier this week. Keelan Cole made his Jets debut but did not record a reception. …C.J. Mosley led the Jets with 10 tackles.