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Robert Saleh: 'Young Guys' Battling for Comeback Win Is 'Fun Part of Preseason'

But HC Wasn't Happy with LB Quincy Williams' 1st-Quarter Late Hit in Jets' 24-21 Triumph in Philly: 'Egregiously Awful'


As ESPN New York radio postgame host Dan Graca put it succinctly after the Jets' 24-21 comeback win over the Eagles in the teams' preseason opener, "The No. 1 concern is the status of No. 2."

Head coach Robert Saleh addressed as much of those concerns about uniform No. 2, second-year starting QB Zach Wilson, at the top of his news conference in the Lincoln Financial Field visitors media room. But after the Wilson Q&A, there were questions about the rest of the Jets and how they managed to pull this victory out.

The script came out a little backward for the Green & White. As Saleh explained, one of his ones committed an "egregiously awful" mistake that enabled the Eagles to move to a 7-0 lead on their opening drive and soon after to a 14-0 lead in what looked to be a summer runaway.

But then one of the things that makes preseason fun took over the Jets' mindset as their twos and threes outperformed the Birds' twos and threes in the second half.

The awful play was by LB Quincy Williams, who applied a violent and clearly late hit on Philly QB Jalen Hurts on third-and-5 at the Jets 35.

"I talked to Quincy after the game. Egregiously awful from Quincy, and he knows that, he knows better," Saleh said. "It's one thing to make a mistake in a game, it's another thing to make a mistake that leads to points, touchdowns. It's a good drive, we're off the field. Jalen's a phenomenal quarterback, and to stop them, hold them to a field goal after giving up an explosive is a pretty good showing for the first drive.

"Then to have that happen extends the drive. Anytime you extend the drive like that, it's probably going to lead to bigger points. So Quincy knows, but at the same time, those are plays he has got to get out of his game for him to be the player we think he can be."

Wilson threw his first interception since last December to set up the hometown team's second TD on its second drive. Then the Jets QB went down and out with his knee injury and it was looking like a long night for the Green & White.

But this is preseason, when strange things can and often do happen. Instead of suffering a huge downer of a loss on opening night, the Jets' backups came on and scored 24 of the game's last 31 points. In the process, they overcame that 14-0 deficit, marking the sixth time in franchise preseason history that the Jets had come back to win a game after trailing by 14 or more points. The two largest comebacks were both home games vs. the Eagles, a 28-27 win after trailing by 20 in the fourth quarter in 2004, then two years later a 20-17 success after trailing by 17-0 into the third quarter in 2006.

"How about the quarterback? He was fun," Saleh said of Streveler, the journeyman who in 2019 led the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to the CFL's Grey Cup and on Friday night led the Jets on two fourth-quarter TD drives to secure this summer's "Green Cup."

"I thought [TE Lawrence] Cager did a great job. I loved [Nate] Herbig, the offensive linemen who was nursing aches and pains and was just grinding down there. I saw [TE Jeremy] Ruckert scored a touchdown. Then the defense, the D-line just overall had really good execution across the board. They had that one drive, obviously [giving up an 18-play TD drive to the Eagles backups to fall behind, 21-17]. But up till then, they had a lot of 3-and-outs and were doing a really nice job."

"One of my favorite things about preseason is the second half, when those young guys that are battling for rosters spots get to come out on the field and represent the style that they want. They're fighting and they're gassed and they're doing everything. I'm excited to see that. That's the fun part of preseason, that's why we play preseason is to watch those guys."

The not-fun part of preseason is possibly losing your starting QB in the preseason for an extended period. But nothing will keep that kind of bad news at bay than a comeback win in the same game.

"I thought they were awesome," the head coach concluded. "They deserve to feel good about how they played. And that locker room is very upbeat."

See the best images of the Jets' 24-21 victory during the preseason opener at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

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