The Jets' return to action for their return match against the Patriots today — at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro MA, 1 p.m. ET kickoff — has a lot riding on it for head coach Robert Saleh's Green & White.
■ It's the first game after a bye week for Saleh's team, after two weeks of self-scouting and game-video rewatching to determine how to get his young team on the paths to quicker game starts and more winning football.
■ It's a chance to get an AFC East win in only the Jets' second division game. In fact, the Jets have never before played New England twice before playing another division foe, and the only time they did that against any AFC East opponent was in 2018, when they played the Dolphins twice before any other division rival.
■ And of course it's an opportunity for the Jets to end some long losing streaks to the Patriots, overall and at the Pats' stadium nestled next to U.S. Route 1 in the Massachusetts woods.
On offense, it's the next game for rookie quarterback Zach Wilson to show his progress after his personal bye week, against fellow rookie QB Jones and the Pats, who were the winners in the teams' Week 2 meeting at MetLife Stadium, a 25-6 Patriots victory.
But Wilson has no trepidation in making his first foray into "the belly of the best," leading the Jets against their nearby nemeses on the road and trying to fire up his offense from the jump. His quote about his youthful exuberance during the week is worth repeating here:
"I think it's exciting every single week. I wouldn't just say this because it's the Patriots, but I'm super excited for this week. It's a chance for us to get better, for me to get better, to apply things I've been working on — that's what makes football so fun. So I can't wait to get back out there and play these guys. I think it's going to be a blast."
On the defensive side, the Jets will get S Marcus Maye back in the starting lineup for the first time in three games from his ankle injury — "Yes, sir, I will be available," he declared midweek — to do battle against Jones and the New England offense. But Maye and the D won't be joined on the field by LB C.J. Mosley, who was listed as doubtful on Friday coming out of the Atlanta game with a sore hamstring. Despite doing some warmup activity at Gillette early today, he is listed as inactive.
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One more bullet point can be added to the above: This is an opportunity for the Jets to send the Patriots reeling further. They've started a season 2-4 for only the third time since Bill Belichick took over as head coach in 2000. And they've opened their home schedule winless in their first four games for the first time since 1995.
And with a win in this game, the Jets would rise to 2-4 and New England would dip to 2-5, which would mark the first time the Jets would be ahead of the Patriots in the division standings this late in the season, even by a half-game, since 2008.
All the more reason for the visitors to be spot on with their details and fundamentals, alignments and assignments. The Patriots will be coming after the Jets with a vengeance today to try to continue their hexes, and the Jets are well aware of that.
"I feel like we prepared well this week," WR Jamison Crowder said. "We'll just go up there and play the game, give ourselves a chance late, and see what happens."
The Jets' six-player inactive list for today's game:
- WR Jeff Smith
- RB Tevin Coleman
- S Adrian Colbert
- LB C.J. Mosley
- TE Tyler Kroft
- DL Jonathan Marshall
And this is the Patriots' six man inactive list, not including slot CB Jonathan Jones, who was placed on IR:
- CB Shaun Wade
- RB Rhamondre Stevenson
- DE Ronnie Perkins
- LB Dont'a Hightower
- G Yasir Durant
- TE Devin Asiasi