This Sunday will be the home debut of the Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson and first-year head coach Robert Saleh at MetLife Stadium when they go up against the New England Patriots, an AFC East opponent whose dominance of two decades in the division ended last season when they finished third at 7-9. The Jets were last with the second worst record in the NFL at 2-14.
The Patriots also have a rookie starting quarterback. Mac Jones, drafted by the team No. 15 overall in April, beat out veteran Cam Newton, last season’s starter after Tom Brady, who was with the Patriots from 2000 to 2019, moved on to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and won his seventh Super Bowl.
Wilson, Saleh and the Jets lost their season opener last Sunday to the Carolina Panthers 19-14. Wilson was 20-of-37 for 258 yards and two touchdowns with only one interception. He endured six sacks by the Panthers defense and was harassed all afternoon. Panthers QB Sam Darnold, who was drafted No.3 in the first round in 2018 by the Jets to be their long-term leader at the position, completed 24 of 35 passes for 279 yards and one TD. The Jets traded Darnold to the Panthers in April for three draft picks.
The Jets were shutout by the Panthers in the first half and lost left tackle Mekhi Becton to a dislocated right knee injury in the third quarter. Becton, their top pick last year––No. 11 in the first round––is expected to be out four to six weeks after surgery. As for the 6-2, 215-pound Wilson, he proved to be physically capable.
“The kid’s been hit before,” said Saleh. “He took some shots today, obviously. But he got back up. He showed resolve and he’s fearless, he really is. The 22-year-old displayed toughness and aptitude in his first regular season test.
“That’s part of the job,” said Wilson. “Right? Part of the quarterback pressure is knowing there’s going to be pressure. It’s good for me.”