Wilson gives Jets some optimism in loss to Eagles | WGN 720 radio


NEW YORK (AP) The New York Jets’ defense was brutal again. All the positive feelings after a solid effort last week have faded, like a missed tackle.

And the Jets had plenty on Sunday.

Now what? Well, it’s a work of a season in progress.

But so did the development of rookie quarterback Zach Wilson. And that’s where the silver lining was found in New York’s 33-18 loss to Philadelphia.

Wilson arguably had his best game in the NFL, especially in the first half – a period in which he struggled mightily. He was 23rd of 38 for 226 yards and two touchdowns with an interception and a TD. But it was not so much the numbers as the decision making and the game that were significantly better.

“Yeah, there were definitely improvements,” Wilson said after the game. “I thought I had made good plays by just putting my team in the best decision I can make every time and just dealing until getting through the guys.

“Now the next step is to find that balance between how I can now go out and use my point guard abilities and also stay on the offense 99 percent of the time.”

That’s the goal of this final five-game stretch for the Jets. They need to put their quarterback in a groove where they know the No.2 pick in the overall draft has taken some important steps – physically and mentally – ahead of the offseason.

“His footwork was awesome,” said coach Robert Saleh. “His eyes, his tempo, playing in the pattern and not trying to overanalyze. Not trying to charge defenses just because you might know what they’re in. I thought it was, from afar, its best game in terms of work and play progress under the program.

Wilson was 12 of 14 for 108 yards and his two touchdowns and first-half score when the Jets trailed 24-18 after two quarterbacks. He went on to score for scoring with the Eagles and Gardner Minshew – each getting touchdowns on their first three offensive possessions.

The race ended on the Jets’ fourth possession as they went three and out. The defense couldn’t attack, with defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich saying New York missed 15 misses. And the Eagles held the ball for almost 70 seconds in the third quarter, keeping Wilson and the Jets’ offense on the sidelines for what seemed like an eternity.

“I wish I could have kept him on pace in the second half,” said Saleh, “because I thought he was preparing for an explosive game overall.”

Wilson needs to improve a lot more, but there was enough on Sunday to provide a burst of optimism even as the Jets fell to 3-9.

WHAT WORKS

Wilson’s Progress. It was only one game, but that’s what the Jets want to see. There were a lot of questions – and rust – after missing four games with a sprained knee ligaments. The rookie responded to a few Sunday.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

Defense. It was back to the drawing board after giving up 418 yards to the Eagles. Cornerback Bryce Hall said the Jets have been preparing all week for Jalen Hurts, who missed the game with an ankle injury. But several others have said they are planning an offensive game for the Eagles, which Ulbrich says hasn’t changed much schematically with Minshew in quarterback. Still, the Jets couldn’t keep Philly out of the end zone in the first half and the New York D couldn’t leave the field in the third quarter.

“It hurts,” Ulbrich said of the performance. “I’m a proud person and I put a lot into it, and the players put everything in it too. We don’t work our butt like we do to get the results we have.

STORE

Braxton Berrios. The fast wide receiver makes a mark as a turner. He ranks first in the NFL among players with 15 or more kickoff returns with an average of 28.9, helped by his 79-yard return in the opening kickoff on Sunday. Berrios is also among the leaders in the league with an average of 13.6 on punt returns.

SOLD OUT

Alex Kessman. The rookie kicker won the open competition last week against Matt Ammendola, was signed to the active roster on Saturday – but missed his only two kicks and was gone on Monday. The Jets gave him up to make room for Eddy Pineiro, who will be the ninth player to play in a regular-season game for New York since the start of the 2017 season.

INJURIES

WR Corey Davis undergoes core muscle surgery on Tuesday and is out for the remainder of the season after another groin injury on Sunday. … CB Michael Carter II is in the concussion protocol. … RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is day to day with an ankle injury.

KEY NUMBER

70 – number of seconds the Jets had in the third quarter. This prompted Joe Namath to tweet after hearing it on the TV show, “Did he say the Jets only had the ball 70 seconds the entire 3rd quarter?” Yes, we guarantee that’s true, Joe.

NEXT STEPS

Linebacker CJ Mosley grabbed the headlines after the game when he said the Jets need to change the story because teams don’t respect them. Well, that comes with victory. And their next hit comes at home against New Orleans, who, like Philadelphia, are batting in the quarterback.

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