Going inside the numbers is not as easy to do at this time of year, due to the lack of games. But numbers are always available, and for some you have to go no further than on the players' uniforms. Combined with this year's rules changes relaxing the numbers that can and can't be worn by position gives us this week's starting point.
Numbers can be changed as late as the week before opening day and even later, of course, but two Jets numbers heading toward the June full-squad minicamp look interesting. It seems QB Zach Wilson is going with 2 and not 1, which he'd worn his last two years in high school and the past two seasons at BYU. "Just mixing it up, doing something new," he said earlier this month. "I just think it's a cool number." So 2 it is for now, and it presents its own tale in green and white.
QBs have always been allowed to wear single digits but Jets QBs have mostly stayed away from No. 2. From 2010-16, that's because K Nick Folk wore it well, and in 2018 K Jason Myers did the same. Before Myers, when QB Teddy Bridgewater first arrived for his cup of coffee on the Jets' roster in 2018, he wore No. 2 before shifting to No. 5 in time for the full-squad minicamp. But before and after those intrepid players, that number had been sported by wideouts who didn't make it to the regular season.
And only six players at any position have worn 2 in franchise regular-season history — kickers Folk, Myers, Raul Allegre and Toni Linhart and, in the final days of the Titans and the first days of the Jets, safety/punter Billy Atkins (1962-63) and QB Ed Chlebek (1963).
So welcome to 2, Zach Wilson, and "two" it proud.
Now Elijah Moore in No. 8 is a little different story. Wideouts in the NFL have been able to wear single digits in the summer — for instance, Wayne Chrebet started out at 3 before he became iconic 80 in 1995, and Keyshawn Johnson was also 3 before he took off in 19 the next year. But come the regular season, WRs had to wear 10 or higher by league mandate.
No more. Now they can rock out in single digits, and that appears to be what Moore will do, since he wore 3 at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale before filling in the left side of that digit and wearing 8 in his three seasons at Ole Miss.
If Moore takes 8 to the regular season, he'd become, how about that, only the eighth player, as well as the fourth non-kicker and the first WR, to wear it as a Jet/Titan. The others: kickers Nick Lowery, Greg Gantt and Randy Bullock and QBs Mark Brunell, Browning Nagle, Luke Falk and Mike White (who wore 8 on the sidelines last year, never played, then this offseason air-mailed 8 to Moore and is going with 5).
The last wideout to wear 8 in the preseason? That would be Lucky Whitehead, who was acquired off waivers from Dallas in July 2017 and waived/injured 13 months later.
Now can 2-to-8 be a pretty productive offensive combination for the Jets at some point in the future? As long as we're talking numerology, sure, why not? Two-eight worked out pretty well for Curtis Martin.
Next Week: Working OT on Another Rules Change for the Preseason