Zach Wilson knew what the Patriots were going to do — or so he claimed — and still couldn’t stop it.
The New York Jets rookie quarterback was all over the place Sunday in a 25-6 loss to New England, throwing four interceptions while looking genuinely rattled. Wilson showcased some of his jaw-dropping talents, but Bill Belichick’s defense nevertheless made the 2021 second-overall pick look like the rookie he is.
It all started in the first quarter when Wilson’s first two pass attempts were picked off. Patriots corner J.C. Jackson, who hauled in the first interception and finished with two on the afternoon, was asked whether the rough start left Wilson rattled.
His simple answer: “Yes.”
Jackson, like his head coach, was impressed by some of what Wilson did against the Patriots defense.
“Wilson’s got a strong arm,” Jackson said. “He can really zip the ball and put it anywhere, deep ball, intermediate. The guy’s pretty good.”
But Jackson also offered insight into something Wilson need’s to work on.
“He’s pretty aggressive,” Jackson said. “He’s an aggressive quarterback. If you on a guy he’ll still try to zip it in there. So, I was just in the right position to make plays. That’s what I do.
” … (Wilson’s) a rookie. He did the best he could today.”
New England clearly entered Sunday’s game with the intention of throwing the kitchen sink at a young quarterback and winning the turnover battle. Sometimes that strategy pays off, and other times it doesn’t.
Following the frustrations of their season-opening loss to the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots were happy to see the ball bounce their way.
“It was a good job,” Devin McCourty, who also had an interception, told reporters after the game. “Even last week we talked about turning the ball over. We had one with the (Jonathan) Jones interception last week, but we have to do a better job of that. Bill (Belichick) always talks about winning the turnover margin and how big an indication that is on who wins the game. In order to win the turnover margin, we have to go create turnovers.
“We did a good job of that early in the game and that had a big impact on the game.”
On Wilson, McCourty added: “I was trying to give him different looks in the secondary. And then, J.C. (Jackson) just doing a good job being a ball hawk. The first (interception), tipping it up in the air and me tipping it back to him. On the second interception (Adrian Phillips), he’s on the roll, guys are pressuring, those are tough plays to make. We have to keep doing that no matter who we are playing at quarterback, just trying to make it hard on them.”
To be clear: Sunday’s performance was far from perfect for New England’s defense. The rushing defense again was leaky, especially in the first half. The front seven needs to clean that up as it prepares to face opposing offenses more capable of exposing the thin Patriots secondary.
Still, the Week 2 win offered a strong reminder that the Patriots still have the talent on defense, and the coaching, to give quarterbacks fits.