New York Jets rookie QB Zach Wilson passes first test with efficient outing in preseason debut

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New York Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson passed his first test with relative ease, delivering an efficient performance in his preseason debut Saturday night against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.

Wilson, who started and played two series, completed six of nine passes for 63 yards. He was in control from the outset, calmly distributing the ball to five different receivers. The second overall pick did a nice job of directing the first-team offense, leading the Jets to seven first downs and a field goal in the two possessions.

The fan base can exhale.

Wilson’s first two weeks in training camp were uneven, sparking headlines and talk-show chatter. Coach Robert Saleh, noting Wilson’s inexperience, warned, “It’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

Actually, he was wrong. It got better Saturday night, though it should be noted that Wilson faced mostly backups. Giants coach Joe Judge decided to rest most of his key starters on defense.

The most impressive part of Wilson’s night was how he handled third down. He went 3-for-3, including 9- and 16-yard conversions to wide receivers Corey Davis and Keelan Cole, respectively. Those plays came from the pocket.

Wilson also showed an ability to play outside the pocket, throwing on the run on designed bootlegs — one of his strengths. Wilson’s improvisational skill is one of the traits that attracted the Jets, but he didn’t have to show it against the Giants. Under little pressure, he stuck to the script. He wasn’t sacked and had no interceptions — a clean outing.

The Jets are counting on Wilson to be their opening-day starter. They haven’t announced it yet, but it became obvious when they didn’t acquire a veteran to compete for the starting job. The top backups are Mike White and James Morgan, neither of whom has regular-season experience. The fourth-stringer is journeyman Josh Johnson.

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