giants-jets preseason week 1 recap zach wilson will hernandez
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets defeated the Giants 12-7 in either team’s first preseason game of the year. What/who stood out in the matchup?

Ryan Honey

A game full of defense, lack-luster offense, and more defense.

I guess that’s what happens when you have backup quarterbacks and backup offensive linemen playing for the majority of an exhibition game.

There were just a few scoring drives in this preseason meeting between the Jets and Giants, two of them thanks to the former’s offensive unit.

Zach Wilson‘s first drive of his NFL career (both preseason and regular season) included a mix of both run and pass plays, which seemingly overwhelmed a Giants defense that fielded mostly backups. That possession concluded with a 30-yard field goal from Jets placekicker Chris Naggar.

The next scoring drive came in the third quarter with backup quarterback Mike White leading the way — it encompassed multiple receptions from Denzel Mims and culminated with a four-yard touchdown run from La’Mical Perine.

Then, a Clayton Thorson 21-yard touchdown pass to wideout Damion Willis in the fourth quarter (with the ensuing extra-point conversion from Ryan Santoso) cut the Jets’ lead to 10-7.

And finally, a Jonathan Marshall sack of Thorson in the end zone led to a safety and made it 12-7 in favor of Gang Green — what was eventually the final score.

No, it was not a night for fans of high-tempo, high-powered offensive football.

But regardless, there were some tidbits that stood out and players who impressed.

First glance at Zach Wilson 

While it wasn’t a highlight reel type of night for the Jets rookie quarterback, the No. 2 overall draft pick got off to a good start.

Zach Wilson was 6-for-9 for 63 yards, which included a pair of completions to the team’s top receiver, Corey Davis.

Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur should certainly utilize play-action rollouts at a high rate in order for Wilson to find space and time to make the throws he needs to make. In those types of scenarios, Wilson could potentially maximize his significant athleticism as well.

What happened with Kadarius Toney?

The Giants’ first-round wide receiver didn’t partake in the game, and overall, has undergone a bizarre start to his NFL career.

Following Kadarius Toney‘s placement on the Reserve/COVID-19 list last month, the Giants have attempted to ramp him up, but have done so at a strange rate.

On top of that, Toney apparently remained inside during pre-game warmups and was not on the field.

Giants Standouts — OG Will Hernandez

This needs to be a bounce-back year for Will Hernandez, especially since the offensive guard is in the final season of his rookie contract. Last year, he missed time due to a positive COVID-19 test and subsequently lost his left guard starting spot to then-rookie Shane Lemieux (who should start there this season).

In 2021, Hernandez is expected to start on the right side and made a number of key pulling blocks Saturday night that helped spring first-down runs for Corey Clement.

It’s early, but success in this portion of the year could lead to the confidence Hernandez needs.

Giants Standouts — LB Reggie Ragland

The starting inside linebacker spot alongside Blake Martinez doesn’t have a clear occupant as of right now.

Saturday night, Reggie Ragland made a pretty good case as to why he should be selected for the role.

Ragland racked up four combined tackles and made a nice hit on a short 3rd-and-1 pass to jar the ball loose from the opponent and force the incompletion. The play led to a subsequent punt by the Jets in the second quarter.

Will Ragland be able to further produce and contribute in next week’s exhibition matchup against the Browns?

Giants Standouts — LB Carter Coughlin

Carter Coughlin: another guy who can make a case for a starting linebacker job in Patrick Graham’s defense.

The second-year player out of Minnesota carries talent and definitely put it on display Saturday night.

With five combined tackles and a sack, Coughlin proved he’s developing and can contribute in multiple fashions (run-stopping and pass-blocking).

Jets Standouts — LB Hamsah Nasirildeen

Hamsah Nasirildeen earned the start for Robert Saleh’s defensive unit and certainly impressed.

The rookie sixth-rounder recorded a pair of combined tackles and additionally forced a Corey Clement fumble deep in Jets territory in the first half.

If Nasirildeen continues to produce, he could definitely earn the starting job for the Week 1 matchup against Carolina.

Jets Standouts — WR Denzel Mims

Believe it or not, Denzel Mims might be fighting for his job, regardless of what the organization may say about him and his potential future.

Following the recent moves made to improve the roster (acquisitions of Corey Davis, Keelan Cole, and rookie Elijah Moore), Mims finds himself far down the depth chart.

But he made somewhat of a case for a roster spot Saturday night, catching three balls for 51 yards, including one on a 3rd-and-18 conversion in which he used his elusiveness and strength to fight for extra yardage en route to a first down.

This preseason, needless to say, is huge for Mims and his tenure in Florham Park.

Jets Standouts — DT Jonathan Marshall

Don’t sleep on Jonathan Marshall, the Jets’ sixth-round pick out of Arkansas.

The rookie defensive tackle possesses a superb opportunity to portray his talent, and in his inaugural preseason game, certainly did so.

Marshall racked up 1.5 sacks Saturday night, one of which ended up being a safety late in the game that extended the Jets’ lead to 12-7 (as was previously mentioned).