Here are four Jets players to watch when the Green & White open their 2021 home schedule with a game against old foe New England at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
DL Folorunso Fatukasi — The Patriots, with a stout running game and a rookie QB in Mac Jones, could theoretically have the same approach to their offense as the Jets do with Zach Wilson. They ran well, with Damien Harris hitting 100 yards on 23 carries, vs. Miami, up until Harris' potentially game-deciding red zone fumble with 3½ minutes to play. And they ran well vs. the Jets last year with 159- and 166-yard rush games. It will be up to Foley and company to fill the gaps and keep Harris and James White under control so that the Jets' four- (and five- and six-) man rushes can rattle Jones more than the Dolphins did.
CB Michael Carter II — Jakobi Meyers had a third-down drop vs. the Dolphins that forced the Pats to settle for a FG. But he also had a phenomenal home-and-home series vs. the Jets in 2020 — 12 catches for 169 yards at MetLife, six for 68 at Gillette, often making his grabs out of the slot. The Jets nickels both showed up vs. Carolina, rookie Carter II with a 6-yard tackle for loss on a Christian McCaffrey run, an early PD and five tackles on 35 defensive snaps, second-year man Guidry with a strong late TFL on a toss to McCaffrey on 22 snaps. Whoever gets the nickel call will have to be very mindful of Meyers' chain-moving ability to extend New England drives.
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WR Jamison Crowder — WR Corey Davis had five catches for 97 yards and two TDs vs. the Panthers, but we know Bill Belichick and his defense will want to take Davis out of the equation for Wilson and the Jets offense. And Davis knows that the returns of Crowder (from Reserve/COVID) and Keelan Cole (knee) "are a big presence on our offense, they're going to elevate our offense." Crowder's had modest numbers vs. NE over the years (five games, 18 catches, 158 yards) but he had a 20-yard TD grab vs. the Pats in last year's home game and he's surely fired up to add a few more chunk plays to the offense, which had five 20-plus passes, four in the second half, at Carolina.
LT George Fant — Fant said this week that moving from right side to left is "a hard transition" for him. But he started multiple games at LT for Seattle and now "things happen and you have to adjust," so in place of the injured Mekhi Becton, he's Wilson's blindside protector against pass rushers such as DE Deatrich Wise (two career sacks of Jets QBs) and LB Josh Uche (bull-rush sack of Miami's Tua Tagovailoa last week). But job one could be providing the wide-zone blocks to allow Tevin Coleman and Ty Johnson to burst off their left side for more than the minus, zero or 1 yard before first contract that they were getting at Carolina and help Wilson with the play-action game.