The New York Jets kicked off the NFL’s preseason on Thursday night against the Cleveland Browns in the Hall of Fame Game.
They did so without the services of their new quarterback, as four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers did not suit up for New York’s first preseason game.
Zach Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, received the start for the Jets and quarterbacked the offense for the first three series.
On the second series, Wilson uncorked a bomb to wide receiver Malik Taylor, who completed the catch for a 57-yard gain.
After the game, Wilson said Rodgers suggested the play for offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett, who was calling plays.
“Great call by Aaron Rodgers,” Wilson said, per the Jets’ website. “Have to give him a shout-out there. We were backed up and were taking a shot down the field. It was kind of pick your matchup because those guys were just playing single man, which I think is great for preseason ball to see the guys can win and separate, and Malik has done a great job all training camp, so I wanted to go to his side. I liked the matchup with the corner as well and he did a great job winning.”
Wilson finished the night passing 3-5 for 65 yards, leading the Jets on two drives resulting in field goals.
“Zach did a good job. He was poised, looked comfortable in the pocket and delivered the ball on schedule. Definitely something to build on,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said.
Wilson has had a tough start in his NFL career after being selected out of BYU in 2021.
Last year, Wilson was benched twice during the season after struggling to move the ball with the Jets’ offense.
New York went out during the offseason in search of a veteran quarterback, trading for Rodgers in April.
“As much as anything, I hope that this time for him is like a deep inhale and exhale. That he can really take a breath and pause and sit with the disappointment of last year and the frustration and then channel it,” Rodgers said Tuesday of Wilson. “I feel like he has, but just reach in and channel it to a positive and focus on the opportunity in front of him.
“To learn with a guy who loves him and cares about him and wants him to be great and wants him to do incredible things every day and to get better. Then just go be himself and look at this as a chance to reset.”
“I think he’s done a great job. He’s played really, really well in camp,” Rodgers added.
Fox News’ Paulina Dedaj contributed to this report.