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Jets' Defense Casts Shadow on Zach Wilson's Promising Start in Loss to Eagles

The Jets have been waiting all season long for Zach Wilson and the offense to put together a productive first half.

They finally got their wish on Sunday against the Eagles, as Wilson and fellow rookie Elijah Moore led Gang Green to an 18-point outburst before halftime. 

But instead of soaring ahead against Philadelphia, the Jets clipped their own wings with yet another putrid performance on defense. 

The Eagles scored points on each of their first seven drives, marching down the field with ease while capitalizing on missed tackles and silly mistakes from those in green and black. When New York's offense disappeared in the second half, Philly was able to cruise to a 33-18 victory at MetLife Stadium.

New York didn't make a stop on defense until the very end of the fourth quarter. Even without starting quarterback Jalen Hurts, Philly was unstoppable, finding the end zone on each of their first three drives before Jake Elliott drilled four field goals in a row.

As much as Gang Green's offense found some rhythm early on—also scoring a touchdown on their first three possessions—kicker Alex Kessman dug New York in a hole.

Making his NFL debut (after the Jets cut Matt Ammendola on Saturday), Kessman yanked both his first and second extra point attempt wide left. He didn't get another chance to kick for the rest of the game.

Kessman certainly contributed to the loss, but it was the NFL's worst defense that deserves the majority of the blame on Sunday afternoon. It's nice to think about New York's 18-14 lead in the second quarter, and the promising performance from certain contributors on offense, but the Jets allowed 19 unanswered points the rest of the way.

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Eagles backup quarterback Gardner Minshew didn't have an incomplete pass until after the two minute warning, starting 11-for 11 in the first half. At halftime, the former Jaguars signal-caller was 14-for-15 with 188 yards and two touchdowns. He finished the day with 242 passing yards, two scores and just five incompletions.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia's top-ranked rushing attack was characteristically tremendous. The Eagles rushed for 185 yards, seemingly unfazed by the absence of Hurts and running backs Jordan Howard and Boston Scott. 

New York made it seem like defense was optional all afternoon, whiffing on tackles, making ill-advised decisions and breaking down in coverage. 

The closest New York came to a defensive stop when it mattered came in the third quarter. With just under three minutes remaining, linebacker C.J. Mosley jumped on fourth down and was penalized for encroachment. A few plays later, it looked like Gang Green made up for the mistake, stopping Minshew on a quarterback sneak on fourth down. That call was overturned, leading to a field goal shortly thereafter. 

Oh, and the offense disappearing in the second half? Wilson and the offense were on the field for a grand total of 70 seconds—and three plays—in the third quarter. Then in the fourth, Wilson threw an interception on an errant toss over the middle before a turnover on downs later on.

Wilson finished with 226 passing yards, two touchdown passes and a pick. It was the best first half of his young career, a step forward to build on, but it's hard to focus on the positives when this team continues to embarrass themselves between the lines. 

With the loss, the Jets fall to 3-9 on the season and 0-12 against the Eagles in franchise history. 

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