The Jets and their fans can't ask for much more for Sunday's home opener at MetLife Stadium.
Fans will be in the MLS stands for the first time since the Dec. 22, 2019 victory over the Steelers. The weather is expected to be gorgeous — sunny, upper 70s, no rain in the area, light winds.
HC Robert Saleh and his staff, QB Zach Wilson and his rookie class and all his Jets teammates new and old will be amped-solutely fired up for their first game that counts at their home stadium, after glimpses of what their fans can bring to the table at the Green & White scrimmage and the final preseason game.
"I think I speak for everybody, fans included, that it's exciting, it's going to be awesome," Saleh said this week, perhaps meshing his inner Dick Vitale with his own "All Gas No Brake" mindset. "It's been a long time since the building had Jets fans in it and I'm really excited to be on the right sideline when the chant gets going and when things start rolling. It's going to be electric, it's going to be awesome."
All that's left to make this all perfect would be a victory over the visitors. The New England Patriots.
The Pats are different than they've been in the recent past. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are two years gone, Cam Newton was released this offseason. HC Bill Belichick still presides over them, of course, as does OC Josh McDaniel. But rookie QB Mac Jones will be the third different starting quarterback to face the Jets in three successive seasons — the first time that's happened since the early Nineties.
Yet the Pats, even after losing their opener at home to the Dolphins by a point, will still be a tough nut to crack for the Green & White. Perhaps that's because they're the Patriots, or because they're an AFC East foe, the Jets' first of the year, or because they still have more experience to lean back on than the Jets, who were calculated at the start of the season to have the youngest roster in the NFL.
See the Top Photos from Pregame at MetLife Stadium Before the 2021 Home Opener
But Saleh has high hopes for how his youthful Jets such as Wilson, fellow first-round guard Alijah Vera-Tucker, second-round WR Elijah Moore and the rest of his young guns will fare after last week's not-far-enough comeback in their season-opening 19-14 loss at Carolina.
"That is the old saying: You make your biggest jump from Week 1 to Week 2," Saleh said. "There were a lot of guys ... AVT, Elijah had their first game action and didn't get any preseason action. So I'm really excited for them to get another shot at it. I'm really looking forward to seeing how we respond and how we come out of the gates and how we attack this thing. That's usually the saying, and that's what we expect."
Wilson, who in the second half found new veteran Corey Davis for the first two touchdown passes of his career and Davis' first two scores in green and white, gets another weapon to throw to in his first game action in front of his new horde of fan as Keelan Cole (knee) was cleared this morning to play and is active after missing the Panthers. However, WR Jamison Crowder (groin) was not cleared and is inactive, as is WR Denzel Mims.
Defensively, the Jets' line, headed up by Quinnen Williams and Folorunso Fatukasi, will attempt to close all the gaps for RB Damien Harris and pressure Jones into a few turnovers. LB C.J. Mosley, a takeaway machine with the Ravens, would like to scoop up any fumbles or picks that come his way. S Marcus Maye, after losing S Lamarcus Joyner for the season to a triceps injury, will get his ninth different starting partner in the Jets' deep middle in his last 22 starts, either Sheldrick Redwine, Adrian Colbert or Jarrod Wilson. The Jets' corners, led by second-year man Bryce Hall, will have to contend with WRs Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agholor.
And on special teams, in the wake of P Braden Mann's injury, Matt Ammendola gets to return to placekicking only while just-signed longtime Saint Thomas Morstead will do the punting.
The Jets' inactives for this game:
- WR Denzel Mims
- RB La'Mical Perine
- RB Josh Adams
- CB Jason Pinnock
- LB Jamien Sherwood
- WR Jamison Crowder
- DL Jonathan Marshall
And these are the Patriots' six inactives, which include starting LB Kyle Van Noy and starting RT Trent Brown:
- DB Shaun Wade
- RB Rhamondre Stevenson
- LB Ronnie Perkins
- LB Kyle Van Noy
- T Trent Brown
- TE Devin Asiasi