Zach Wilson of the Jets scrambles against the Jaguars at MetLife Stadium...

Zach Wilson of the Jets scrambles against the Jaguars at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Let’s meet here again in 2035 or so, when we can discuss with certainty how it all turned out for Zach Wilson and Trevor Lawrence.

By then, some of the emergency fill-ins who played with and against them on Sunday might be boring friends and relatives with glory days stories about the time they shared a field with two all-time greats.

Or not. Stuff happens, in life and even more so in the NFL.

But for now, all we can go on is this: a weird, entertaining afternoon on which both rookie quarterbacks flashed what they can do and illustrated what they have left to learn.

When it was over and the Jets had secured a 26-21 victory over the Jaguars at MetLife Stadium, Wilson said he and Lawrence shared a brief chat on the field.

What was said?

"Really, just keep going," Wilson said. "He did a great job. He’s going through the same thing I’m going through. We’re both learning.

"He put together a great drive right there [in the final two minutes]. So he’s improving every single week, just like I’m trying to, and so I told him we’ll stay in touch, and I just hope the best for him."

Trevor Lawrence of the Jaguars runs the ball during the second...

Trevor Lawrence of the Jaguars runs the ball during the second quarter against the Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Lawrence was the first overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft and Wilson was second.

It was only the fourth time the top two picks met as starting quarterbacks as rookies, so there was no denying the historical import, even if it did feature two NFL also-rans, teams further depleted by COVID-19 protocols.

Because of those absences, in addition to injuries, piles of losses and general organizational dysfunction in the case of the Jaguars, it was folly to draw too many conclusions about the quarterbacks on this day.

Still, there was enough to give fans hope; the quarterbacks and the circumstances around them presumably will improve.

Wilson was 14-for-22 for a mere 102 yards passing but ran for 91, including a 52-yard touchdown off a scramble in the second quarter. It’s the longest run by a quarterback in Jets franchise history.

Acting coach Ron Middleton said coordinator Mike LaFleur "got on [Wilson] pretty good" about not taking full advantage of room to run in previous games, and Wilson apparently listened.

"There was just no one left in front of me," he said. "Once I got to the sideline, I was planning on just stepping out of bounds. But [Jaguars safety Rudy Ford] didn’t hit me or push more or whatever, so I kind of just held on to the sideline and kept going right there.

"Then by that point, I knew there was really no one left, so I just tried to cut back [past safety Andrew Wigard] and try and make a play, and fortunate we got one out of it."

Wilson was not as productive with his arm, but he had his moments, notably on a 1-yard scoring pass to offensive lineman Conor McDermott that made it 23-15 early in the fourth quarter.

That, too, involved improvisation. McDermott was Wilson’s fourth option, but when he rolled away from pressure, he could not resist the sight of the big man alone in the end zone.

Wilson called the play "probably the highlight of my entire life so far."

"I just see this big dude with his hands in the air in the back of the end zone with no one around him, and I’m like, ‘Oh, my gosh, should I throw it to him? Is this happening?’ " Wilson said.

Later in the quarter, he hit Braxton Berrios in a tight window on a third-and-9 play that kept alive the drive that ended with a field goal that extended the Jets’ lead to five.

Lawrence was 26-for-39 for 280 yards, including several big-time throws, and rushed 26 yards to give the Jags a first-and-goal at the Jets’ 5-yard line in the final minute, but they were unable to score.

He also fumbled twice, once losing the ball to the Jets and once losing it into the end zone, where teammate Will Richardson Jr. fell on it for a touchdown.

"He’s poised, that’s one thing I did notice, even though all the noise was happening," Jets linebacker C.J. Mosley said. "It was an up-and-down game for their offense and for our defense, but he stayed calm."

For now, all we have are hints of where this is headed for these two guys. It’s better than nothing. See you next year . . . and if all goes well, in 2035.


Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months