New York ran out to a 13-0 lead behind Zach Wilson in the first half, playing against Carolina’s first and second teams on both sides of the ball. The Jets used a handful of starters–or potential starters–on offense, including center Connor McGovern, tackles Mekhi Becton, Max Mitchell and Billy Turner, guard Laken Tomlinson, wide receiver Allen Lazard and tight ends Tyler Conklin and C.J. Uzomah.
— NFL (@NFL) August 12, 2023
Not a single starter played on defense. Jamien Sherwood, expected to be the No. 3 linebacker in certain defensive sets this season, was the closest thing to a starter on defense for New York.
Still, the Jets outgained the Panthers 333 yards to 165. And they pulled away in the second half on a pair of TD passes by third string QB Tim Boyle.
Let’s be honest, it’s all stock up and not a single stock down for the Jets after their impressive shutout win against the Panthers.
5. Zach Wilson – QB
With Aaron Rodgers on the sideline wearing a headset, Wilson started and continued his strong play this summer. It wasn’t a flashy performance, but Wilson made good decisions, was efficient and led the Jets to three scoring drives on six first-half possessions.
Wilson completed 14 of 20 passes (70 percent) for 123 yards and one touchdown. He was sacked once and most importantly, did not turn the ball over. His QB rating was 102.7.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) August 12, 2023
On his two-yard TD pass to a wide-open Kenny Yeboah, Wilson badly confused the Carolina defense with a sweet play-action fake.
4. Jets running backs and tight ends
Breece Hall remains on the PUP list following knee surgery, so it was a showcase for the backup running backs Saturday. And each of the candidates flashed in one form or another.
Rookie Israel Abanikanda, who scored on a 10-yard touchdown run in the Hall of Fame Game last week against the Cleveland Browns, led the Jets with 56 yards on 12 carries (4.7 yards per carry). He looked decisive and explosive on a 26-yard run in the second quarter, which took him to the one-yard line. The rookie also led New York with three receptions for 31 yards.
Israel Abanikanda powering through 😤
— NFL (@NFL) August 12, 2023
Michael Carter rushed for 19 yards on four carries (4.8 YPC) in his preseason debut. He displayed burst and power, traits that were often missing during his disappointing 2022 season.
Zonovan “Bam” Knight had a nice seven-yard run and finished with 13 yards on four carries (3.2 YPC). He caught one pass for three yards and dropped another in the flat on third down.
It was a big day for the tight ends, too. The group caught nine passes, including touchdowns by Yeboah, rookie Zack Kuntz and E.J. Jenkins.
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3. Zaire Barnes – LB
Since linebackers CJ Mosley and Quincy Williams did not play, Barnes received a lot of playing time Saturday. And the rookie sixth-round pick out of Western Michigan made the most of his opportunity.
Barnes made the tackle on New York’s first defensive snap and led the Jets with eight tackles in the game. He made seven solo stops and had one tackle for loss in an impressive showing.
2. Will McDonald IV and Jets pass rush
Even without Quinnen Williams, Carl Lawson and John Franklin Myers in the lineup, the Jets were all over Carolina quarterbacks Bryce Young and Matt Corral.
The Jets had five sacks, including a strip sack and fumble recovery by Bruce Hector in the third quarter. First-round pick Will McDonald IV was dominant, recording one sack, two QB hits and five pressures in 18 snaps. Jermaine Johnson, a 2022 first-round pick, was all over the field in the first quarter. Johnson shared a sack with Bryce Huff, made three tackles and was as good against the run as he was disruptive in the passing game.
Will McDonald IV showing off his bend here getting around the LT Larnel Coleman for a sack on 3rd down. hope for this to be a common occurrence this season pic.twitter.com/jbyKXGqRs1
— Jack Stollow (@jetsbyjack) August 12, 2023
1. Joe Tippmann – C
After playing nearly every snap at center in the Hall of Fame Game, Tippmann moved up to practice this week with the second team offense. The rookie second-round pick had been third string behind McGovern and Wes Schweitzer.
McGovern started at center and played two series Saturday. With McGovern playing a key role, the Jets had a 13-play scoring drive to begin the game.
Tippmann replaced him and had a strong showing. The massive (6-foot-6, 317 pounds) lineman is agile, quick and powerful. He may not be the Week 1 starter, but Tippmann looks the part of New York’s center of the future.
The Jets definitely showed a lot of promise in their first NFL preseason game, and if they keep it up, it's not hard to see them making waves once the 2023 season starts.