Ending last season with a 2-14 record, the second worst record of the NFL’s 32 teams, puts the Jets as a team that opponents will be expecting to beat this season. Having a rookie at quarterback in the No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson will increase the confidence of opposing defenses as the 22-year-old BYU alum learns the complex NFL game. Although Wilson displayed a strong arm and quick feet, important skill sets, during the preseason, the question of whether the Jets made a mistake in not keeping quarterback Sam Darnold, whom they drafted No. 3 in the first round in 2018, is still being argued.
Darnold is now the starter for the Carolina Panthers, the team the Jets face in Week 1 on the road Sept. 12. The Jets traded Darnold to the Panthers this past April for a 2021 sixth-round pick, and second and fourth round picks in the 2022 draft. Was Darnold, 24, a victim and casualty of the Jets’ front office that never surrounded him with sufficient talent, particularly providing Darnold with a legitimate No. 1 receiver and solid offensive line? Jets GM Joe Douglas has already shaped the offense for Wilson by signing former Tennessee Titan receiver Corey Davis to a $37.5 million contract in March, and adding lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker with the No. 14 pick and wide receiver Elijah Moore at No. 34 in the 2021 draft.
As all NFL teams were required to do, new Jets head coach Robert Saleh had to trim his roster to 53 players by 4 p.m. this past Tuesday. It’s one of the difficult responsibilities of GMs and coaching staffs. It’s also another new aspect of football for Wilson. “You know it is a weird thing and something I’ve never really experienced before and already seen some guys out of the locker room,” said Wilson via the Jets’ website. “You know, it’s strange because you don’t really say, ‘Hey, we want to welcome this new teammate and we got rid of this guy.’
“It’s a strange process how you all of a sudden see someone else in the locker room and you’re like, ‘Well, he’s gone, what happened?’ It’s a business for sure. And guys just gotta take care of their opportunities and everything that’s going on, but you know, it’s part of the game.”
Veterans as well as rookies trying to secure spots can have anxiety not knowing if they’ll make the team. Even high profile players. The New England Patriots, the team the Jets play in Week 2, released QB Cam Newton, and will go with rookie Mac Jones as their starter.