On the surface it would seem that the Jets sending third-string QB Luke Falk, making his first NFL start, up against Tom Brady and the Patriots' defense at Gillette Stadium today is a case of David vs. Goliath.
And to be sure, there was a lot of positive talk of Falk in the David role, about what "Cool Hand Luke" brings to the table after Falk completed 20 of 25 passes for 198 yards in relief of injured No. 2 QB Trevor Siemian on Monday night vs. Cleveland.
"Yeah it's pretty cool," Falk, the sixth-round pick by Tennessee in 2018, said of going up against Brady, who, like Falk, was the 199th pick of his draft, albeit 18 years earlier. "You're playing against one of your idols, but I'll be facing the defense, not playing against Tom. I just have to go out there, execute the game plan and do the best I can to help my team win.
"You have to realize it's just football, I have been playing this sport for a long time, obviously not at this level, but you have to keep simple things simple, go out and execute the game plan and put the ball in play. Ultimately you have to focus on the small things, not get too wrapped up in the whole big picture, I guess."
And Jets head coach Adam Gase, who coached Falk with the Dolphins last year, was asked what gives him confidence in his young QB.
"If you're around him, it's not hard because he's confident in himself," Gase said. "He knows the offense, he trusts the guys around him, he just works to do his job, he tries to do a good job of communicating everything, very quick on his feet, very smart. He got to some checks in this last game where I don't know if any of us expected that to happen and him to be that aggressive when he got in the game. But I'm sure he was saying, 'Nobody probably thinks I should be out here anyways, so I'm just going to play it the way I should.' "
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With all this being said, Falk and the Jets have a tall task today. Their defensive front-seven injury report didn't provide any surprises today, with MLB C.J. Mosley (groin), OLB Jordan Jenkins (calf) and first-round rookie DL Quinnen Williams (ankle) all deactivated for today's game.
Then there is Brady, of course, who, even with having seen WR Antonio Brown depart after one game, still dangerous weapons around him and has beaten the Jets in 14 of his last 16 starts overall and in eight straight starts at Gillette since the Jets' 2010 playoffs victory.
And there's the New England defense, off to a rip-roaring start — after two weeks the Patriots are first in the NFL in yards allowed, second in rushing yards allowed, first in first downs allowed and first in allowing a mere 1.5 points per game (three points to Pittsburgh, none at Miami last week).
But Gase, who will become the first Jets head coach ever to start three different QBs in his first three games as HC, has refused to cry the blues over having lost QB Sam Darnold to mono for at least Games 2-3 and the several other injuries and suspensions that have put a crimp in his plans for the Green & White.
"We have a lot of games, we have a lot of football left to play," Gase said. "I keep thinking back to my first year in Miami, we were 1-4 and terrible. We rattled off six straight and the next thing you know, we're creating our own destiny. We have a lot of football left to play. It's all about us getting better, sticking to our process."
The Jets' seven-player inactive list for today's game:
- QB Sam Darnold
- WR Demaryius Thomas
- LB Jordan Jenkins
- DL John Franklin-Myers
- LB C.J. Mosley
- LB Jordan Willis
- DL Quinnen Williams
And this is the Patriots' inactive list:
- RB James White
- S Nate Ebner
- FB James Develin
- OL Caleb Benenoch
- OL Korey Cunningham
- TE Matt LaCosse
- LB Shilique Calhoun
The Jets will be wearing their new white jerseys and green pants for the first time in this game.
Today's referee is Carl Cheffers, officiating in his eighth Jets game since 2008. His first Jets game as referee was 2008 at Tennessee, when the 7-3 Jets toppled the 10-0 Titans, 34-13. Other victories were at Tampa Bay in '09 and home vs. Buffalo in '10 and '11.