Zach Wilson delivers exact Jets performance Robert Saleh wanted

Back in June, Jets coach Robert Saleh said that quarterback Zach Wilson “doesn’t need to be Tom Brady this year.” On Sunday, Wilson wasn’t Brady and he was just enough for the Jets to win.

This was the type of game Saleh had in mind when he made the Brady comment. The Jets don’t want Wilson to try to do too much. On Sunday, Wilson completed 14 of 21 passing for 210 yards and had one rushing touchdown. Most importantly, he did not turn the ball over in a 40-17 win over the Dolphins at MetLife Stadium.

“I thought he was good,” Saleh said. “We didn’t turn the ball over. I thought he made big throws when he needed to make them. I thought our run game really picked up, especially in the second quarter. I thought he did exactly what he needed to do to win a football game.”

The Jets scored five rushing touchdowns. Wilson completed a 79-yard pass to running back Breece Hall, but it was a long run after the catch. Most of Wilson’s throws were short or intermediate throws. It was Wilson’s second game back after returning from his preseason knee injury. Wilson said he is happy to watch the running game click like it did Sunday.

“It feels good as a quarterback when you get to hand the ball off and the guys up front are doing their job and the receivers are getting dirty, coming down and making their blocks and the running backs are running hard and moving the ball,” Wilson said. “I think it’s always a good thing as a quarterback to have that.”

Wilson did reach the end zone with his legs. He ran for a 5-yard score in the second quarter. He now has a rushing, receiving and passing touchdown this season. He is the first Jets quarterback to accomplish this feat and first Jet since Curtis Martin in 2000 to do it.

Alijah Vera-Tucker started at his third position in three weeks. He moved to right tackle this week after starting the first three games at right guard and last week at left tackle. He has impressed his teammates.

“Alijah Vera-Tucker is a Pro Bowler,” running back Michael Carter said. “It doesn’t get more simple than that. For him to go play [right] guard and then for him to go play left tackle and have a really good game and then for him to come to right tackle next week, you can’t name me another guard who’s doing that, maybe ever. I think if he doesn’t go to the Pro Bowl this year, the NFL is rigged.”

The Jets needed Vera-Tucker to go to right tackle with Duane Brown returning at left tackle. Nate Herbig started at right guard for the second straight week.

The Jets scored five rushing touchdowns for the third time in franchise history and first time since 1993 when they scored five against the Patriots in a 45-7 win.

Jets rookie running back Breece Hall had the best day of his NFL career, rushing for 97 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries and caught two passes for 100 yards to set up two other touchdowns.

Tyreek Hill, the Dolphins’ big-play receiver who dissed the Jets in the offseason when he used them for leverage en route to getting himself a big contract in Miami, failed to make a single big play in the game. Hill, whose public tweaking of the Jets when he went to Miami rubbed some Jets players the wrong way, finished with a quiet seven receptions for 47 yards and got nowhere near the end zone.

Unsung hero

The rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner set the tone for the game when he blitzed and hit Miami quarterback Teddy Bridgewater on the Dolphins’ first play from scrimmage, knocking Bridgewater out of the game with head and elbow injuries. That forced the Dolphins to play third-string quarterback Skylar Thompson, who’d never played an NFL down. Gardner later added his first career interception that led to a TD.

Key stat

0: The Jets didn’t turn the ball over once while their defense forced two Miami turnovers.

Quote of the day

“It was a great day. No flinch. All three phases did a great job. Hopefully it’s the first of many.’’

— Jets coach Robert Saleh

This content was originally published here.

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