EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Facing the New England Patriots for the first time, New York Jets rookie Zach Wilson received his “welcome-to-the-rivalry” moment on his first pass. And his second. And his fifth. And his 10th.
The rookie quarterback was intercepted four times in his first 10 pass attempts Sunday at MetLife Stadium, surpassing his interception total for his entire 2020 season at BYU.
Wilson, drafted second overall, became the first Jets player in 40 years to throw interceptions on his first two passes. Vinny Testaverde did it in 2000. He also became the first Jets quarterback to throw three interceptions in the first half of a game since Geno Smith in 2014.
It’s a rare occurrence in the NFL. Since the start of the 2020 season, only one other quarterback has done it — Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings. He had three against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 6 of last season.
Wilson finished the half at 3-for-7, 45 yards — a 25.0 passer rating.
Unlike Week 1, Wilson was afforded solid pass protection. On the first interception, he threw over the middle into heavy coverage, looking for Corey Davis. Cornerback J.C. Jackson stepped in front of Davis to make the play.
On his second throw, Wilson was on the move, rolling to his right, and threw high to Davis. The ball went off his hands and into the waiting arms of safety Adrian Phillips.
The rookie seemed to calm down after two complete passes, but he did it again, underthrowing rookie Elijah Moore. Once again, Jackson made the interception.
In the third quarter, Wilson threw his worst pass of the day, heaving a deep floater that was intercepted by safety Devin McCourty. There wasn’t an intended receiver near McCourty, and Wilson was under no duress.
On all four turnovers, Wilson was overly aggressive, looking downfield instead of settling for check-down options. Going into the game, Wilson said he was excited to pass against a Bill Belichick-coached defense, saying it would be a “great challenge” with “lots of great learning.”
There were many teaching moments in the first half.