The Jets are off to a rough start. After being hit left and right by injuries, their defense couldn’t stop former first-round pick Sam Darnold from exacting his revenge and lost last Sunday to the Panthers. The Jets offense, while boasting the potential quarterback of the future in Zach Wilson, needs a lot of work.
Here are the Jets to watch Sunday when they host the Patriots:
QB Zach Wilson
Expect plenty of comparisons with Wilson, the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and Patriots quarterback Mac Jones, who was taken 13 slots later.
But aside from being first-rounders who are starting for their teams, they hardly could be more different.
Jones relies on accuracy, anticipation, and pre-snap reads rather than raw physical skill — something he has much less of than the four QBs taken ahead of him. That approach served him well in an encouraging debut against an aggressive Dolphins defense last Sunday.
Wilson has arm strength talent and loves to break from the pocket. He can practically launch the football out of the stadium — even some of his incompletions are impressive (Jets receivers dropped five passes last week for a whopping 20 percent rate).
“You don’t really know what Wilson has in his tool bag,” Patriots safety Adrian Phillips said this week. “So you’ve got to be sticking to the receivers and play the whole down through because he can escape the pass rush, and he’s looking to launch that thing.”
The quarterback will give the Patriots chances to make plays because he trusts his arm so much.
New England defenders can’t afford to fall asleep on any receiver. No matter where a receiver is on the field, Wilson can find a way to get it to them.
If the Patriots can make Wilson hold the football for long enough, there’s a chance he’ll eventually force throws, much as Tua Tagovailoa did last week.
Wilson hasn’t been quite as reckless as his college reputation suggests, but last week showed he’s plenty capable of making mistakes.
WR Corey Davis
Davis got a three-year, $37.5 million deal this offseason and showed off his chops as the top dog in last week’s loss, catching five passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns.
The Jets’ No. 1 receiver’s game speed and acceleration stands out, especially once he has the football in his hands.
He’s a cut above the Dolphins’ DeVante Parker and Jaylen Waddle, who gave the Patriots problems last week.
“He’s an outstanding player,” coach Bill Belichick said. “Catches the ball and makes a lot of contested catches. Tough guy to tackle. Good blocker. He really competes hard. Does everything well.”
Patriots cornerbacks coach Mike Pellegrino said Davis’s route-running ability is the first thing that stands out. His first touchdown grab against the Panthers was an example, as he broke off his route and came wide open as Wilson scrambled from the pocket.
He and the explosive Elijah Moore are two receivers the Patriots can’t afford to let loose.
Edge rusher John Franklin-Myers
Carl Lawson’s season-ending injury has made Franklin-Myers that much more important to an embattled defensive front.
He stepped up as New York’s best defensive player in Week 1, registering four pressures, a sack, and two stops, including a big tackle for a loss.
He primarily lined up as an edge rusher to the left, which is where Emmanuel Ogbah had a big day against Patriots backup right tackles Justin Herron and Yasir Durant.
If Trent Brown is unable to play this week — he didn’t participate in Wednesday’s practice because of a calf strain — Franklin-Myers could get more chances against second-stringers on New England’s offensive line.
The Patriots offensive line allowed nine hits on Jones last Sunday. Though the Jets don’t have an elite stable of edge rushers, Franklin-Myers deserves attention.
OL George Fant and Morgan Moses
The Jets lost starting left tackle Mekhi Becton to a dislocated kneecap in Week 1, and he’ll be out 4-6 weeks. That mishap will likely slide Fant, the team’s starting right tackle, to the left side, with Moses coming off the bench to man the right side.
The move puts Fant and Moses at their natural positions, and both have plenty of starting experience, so it’s not quite the same as the Dolphins sliding Liam Eichenberg from right to left tackle just before his NFL debut last week.
The Patriots need to take advantage of the offensive line’s shuffling and generate pressure on Wilson.
The Jets surrendered 10 quarterback hits and six sacks to the Panthers.