Throughout the offseason, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg, Randy Lange, Caroline Hendershot and John Pullano will give their responses to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: What are you looking forward to in Jets-Bills?
EA: I'm looking forward to those couple of moments before kickoff when NYPD Officer Brianna Fernandez leads the fans in the signing of the National Anthem. The Jets will pay tribute to the fallen heroes and first responders on the 22nd anniversary of 9/11 and Ms. Fernandez' late father, Luiz Hernandez, spent months working in the recovery efforts following the terrorist attacks. While 9/11 was our country's darkest day, the resolve, courage, empathy and love displayed by many following those hours is a reminder of the fabric of this country and this city. Then when that ball is kicked, we'll be treated to two star QBs duel against potentially two stout defenses. Each club has matchup advantages, but here is what I like for the Jets. They have RBs like Breece Hall and Dalvin Cook who can exploit a big question in the middle of the Buffalo defense as the Bills look to replace Tremaine Edmunds with Terrel Bernard. The Bills have Stefon Diggs, but the Jets counter with the best 1-2-3 CB trio in Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed and Michael Carter II. While the Bills should be improved along the OL, the Jets DL is loaded for bear and will be better than the group that led to 8 sacks of Josh Allen last season. And finally in a close game, I know Aaron Rodgers will protect the football. Will Allen against those fresh fire breathers?
EG: The atmosphere. I'm not sure what the best word to describe what I think Monday night's crowd to be like. Raucous comes to mind, but I'm not sure if it fully captures it. Jets fans have waited a long time for a moment like this. The stakes are certainly high – the last game of the Week 1 slate, the 22nd anniversary of 9/11, the first game Aaron Rodgers plays with his new team against the AFC East champions for three seasons in a row. And for some flare, it'll be the debut of the Legacy White uniforms. I expect MetLife Stadium to be deafening Monday night. Jets-Bills was the loudest home game last season with the Green & White reaching 7-4 in a 20-17 win. I remember being on the sideline at the end of that game last season thinking to myself how loud it was when Bryce Huff sacked Josh Allen to effectively win the game and then Allen's pass on 4th and 21 that fell incomplete a couple plays later intended for WR Gabe Davis. I think Monday will be exponentially louder.
See all the best photos of the Jets on the practice field during Week 1 in preparation for the Bills.
RL: I'm looking forward to seeing how efficiently the offense as a whole operates. Aaron Rodgers is only one part of it, and as he said Thursday, "It's going to be a work-in-progress." The O-line has starting talent, but has that talent had enough work together to be able to operate at close to peak efficiency in Week 1? How will Breece Hall and Dalvin Cook look, coming back from their rehab-filled offseasons, and how will they mesh in the backfield? Will the WR group led by Garrett Wilson and Allen Lazard, plus the talented TEs all be on the same page with ARod in the early going? As for Rodgers, I anticipate him playing like a future Hall of Famer, especially if MetLife Stadium is anything like what Lambeau Field was for him. Consdider he's an unconscious 91-23-1 with a 108.3 passer rating in all his RS home games, 5-1 with a 106.9 rating in six home-opening starts, and, for what it's worth, he prevailed over Josh Allen and the Bills, 22-0, at home in their only meeting in Allen's rookie year of 2018. So I'm looking forward to the new guy in green and white feeling right at home in his first home action as the Jets' QB and getting this season of great expectations off and flying.
CH: I know everyone can't wait to see how the offense is able to jell together and specifically Aaron Rodgers, but for me, I'm really looking forward to watching the defense. Against the Bills last season, the Jets defense sacked Josh Allen 8 times. On top of that, the Jets defense, which ranked top five last year, added defensive linemen Al Woods, Quinton Jefferson and Will McDonald to a roster who is already returning Jermaine Johnson, DJ Reed, and All-Pro players Sauce Gardner and Quinnen Williams. The defense kept the Jets in a lot of games last year and the message from DC Jeff Ulbrich is that the job is not finished. I am excited to see what the next step is for this group, and even more excited to watch them go up against the reigning AFC East Champs under the lights at MetLife Stadium.
JP: For Jets' pass rush to be unleashed. Robert Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas have built a deep defensive line group headlined by All-Pro Quinnen Williams. During the preseason, fans got a glimpse of what to expect in the regular season. In the Green & White's second preseason game, they shut out the Panthers and totaled five sacks without any starters. For the preseason finale against the Giants, Saleh rolled out the starters for two drives and Williams and company delivered 2 sacks and 2 QB hits in two scoreless possessions. Last season, the Jets' 45 total sacks were seventh most in the league. Over the summer, they parted ways with Sheldon Rankins, Nathan Shepherd and Vinny Curry but filled in the gaps with first-round pick Will McDonald and veterans AL Woods and Quinton Jefferson. In addition, Carl Lawson will be another year removed from an Achilles tear and Jermaine Johnson came to camp a chiseled 254 pounds. Johnson said he felt like he let opponents "off the hook" last season and plans to make a bigger impact in Year 2. Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich utilizes a rotation to deploy his seemingly bottomless collection of pass rushers. And Monday night, I can't wait to see it on display for 60 minutes.