It's time for the Jets' Thursday Night Football appearance, and one main storyline for the NFL Network team to mine tonight will be which team is ready to climb up from its 0-3 hole toward the light? The Jets or the Broncos?
The Green & White and Orange Crush find themselves in similar circumstances for this one. Both are not only winless but are battling multiple injuries that have also battered each team's expectations for the season. Both second-year head coaches, the Jets' Adam Gase and the Broncos' Vic Fangio, have said despite their separate situations that their locker rooms have positive approaches and they'll be relying on the "next man up" (or in Fangio's turn of phrase, "next guy up") for this one.
It all sounds eerily like the last time the Jets played in a game of 0-3 opponents — 1999, when they were also banged up and they flew out to, of all places, Denver to play the Broncos. The Jets prevailed in that game, 21-13, and while it didn't immediately jumpstart their season, it got them pointed in the right direction toward a strong second half and an 8-8 finish.
If this year's Jets are of a similar mind, TNF is the place to start, and the QB battle to start it with is Sam Darnold vs. the Broncos' Brett Rypien, the nephew of one-time Super Bowl-winning QB Mark Rypien who will make his first pro start in place of the injured Drew Lock and the benched Jeff Driskel.
With defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' track record in the second half of last season game-planning against young QBs Daniel Jones of the Giants, Washington's Duane Haskins, and Devin Hodges and Mason Rudolph of the Steelers, the Jets on defense will want to rattle Rypien's cage, set up behind an ailing offensive line and in the middle of a backfield that reportedly will be without RB Phillip Lindsay and will definitely be missing top WR Courtland Sutton.
Offensively, Darnold will get the return of arguably his favorite receiver from last season and this year's opener in Jamison Crowder, who is active after missing two games with a hamstring pull, as well as as both starting tackles, LT Mekhi Becton (shoulder), who missed the second half of Sunday's loss at Indy, and RT George Fant, who sat out the Colts but is now out of the NFL's concussion protocol.
While some things are pointing up for the Jets, they can't take a lot from their "home-field advantage," since playing at MetLife Stadium doesn't have quite the same meaning as it did in previous years with the stands empty again due to Covid-19 considerations. The home environment didn't help much two games ago in their home-opening loss to San Francisco.
But maybe the Jets' still-new Stealth Black uniforms can help with the home ambience. They broke out their black jerseys and black pants for Game 2 last year, a 23-3 loss to Cleveland. But they brought black/black back for Game 9, the 34-27 win over the Giants, and for Game 13, the 22-21 squeaker over the Dolphins won on Sam Ficken's walk-off field goal. So they're now going for a 3-1 mark in
The Jets also announced several transactions Thursday afternoon. With Joe Flacco (another Super Bowl-winning QB who has some skin in this game) finally being activated from his neck surgery rehab, the team has released QB Mike White, as well as CB Nate Hairston. Moving to the active/inactive roster are WR Jeff Smith, who went on IR on Sept. 7, and undrafted free agent rookie CB Javelin Guidry. Also, WR Lawrence Cager and CB Lamar Jackson have been elevated from the practice-squad to the active/inactive roster for this game only.
The Jets' full inactives list for tonight's game:
■ QB James Morgan
■ WR Breshad Perriman
■ CB Quincy Wilson
■ S Ashtyn Davis
■ S Marqui Christian
■ LB Jordan Willis
■ DL Nathan Shepherd
And the Broncos' inactives:
■ QB Drew Lock
■ QB Blake Bortles
■ CB Davontae Harris
■ RB Phillip Lindsay
■ LB Jeremiah Attaochu
■ G Netane Muti
■ TE Albert Okwuegbunam
See the Green and White Arriving at MetLife Stadium for the Week 4 Matchup Against the Broncos