The New York Jets will return home to host the New England Patriots in an AFC East showdown in Week 3. The Jets are coming off a 30-10 defeat by the hand of the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2 in their first game since Aaron Rodgers sustained a season-ending Achilles injury.
It was a forgettable showing from the Jets in the lopsided loss to the Cowboys, so they’ll be looking to get back on track — primarily on the offensive side of the ball. The Patriots will enter Sunday’s divisional bout with a 0-2 record after being tasked with facing the Philadelphia Eagles and the Miami Dolphins in the first two weeks.
Ahead of a pivotal game against the Patriots, here are six players from the Jets to watch in Week 3.
QB Zach Wilson
The first start for Zach Wilson in relief of Rodgers this season went similarly to how his first two seasons in the NFL went. The third-year quarterback completed only 12 of his 27 attempts for 170 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions versus the Cowboys last week.
The lone touchdown was a long play created by Garrett Wilson on a quick pass and the Jets finished with only 12 first downs compared to the Cowboys converting 26 first downs in Week 2. It won’t get much easier for Wilson on Sunday against Bill Belichick and New England’s defense.
In his first four meetings against the Patriots, Wilson has gone 0-4, completed only 50.9 percent of his passes, and has thrown seven interceptions to two touchdowns.
RB Breece Hall
Breece Hall was a bright spot in New York’s season-opening win over the Buffalo Bills. Upon returning from a torn ACL, Hall scampered for 127 yards on 10 attempts, while also turning his lone reception into 20 yards in Week 1.
Week 2 was an entirely different story for Hall as the second-year back was limited to nine yards on four attempts. Hall has received 11 fewer snaps than Dalvin Cook and only six more snaps than Michael Carter through the first two weeks.
Can the Jets continue to ease Hall’s workload in the offense if they want to salvage their season sans Rodgers?
OT Mekhi Becton
The issues along the offensive line have become apparent again for the Jets early in the season, especially at the tackle spots. The interior of the offensive line has been fine, but Duane Brown and Mekhi Becton have struggled to begin the season.
Becton is starting at right tackle for the first time in his career and after being tasked with slowing down Micah Parsons in Week 2, the Jets will need to prevent Matthew Judon from wreaking havoc on Sunday. Judon is a severely underrated pass rusher, and if Becton continues to struggle in Week 3, the Jets may elect to shake up the current offensive line unit.
DE Jermaine Johnson
Following a rookie campaign in 2022 where he had a limited role, Jermaine Johnson has seen a healthy number of snaps in the first two weeks. Johnson has garnered the most snaps (108) among the edge rushers on the Jets and he’s seen only one fewer snap than Quinnen Williams.
With an expanded role, Johnson has combined for nine tackles, two tackles for loss, and one sack entering Week 3. Given the woes offensively, Johnson and the other pass rushers on the Jets will desperately be needed to avoid going down 1-2 on Sunday against the Patriots.
DT Quinnen Williams
Williams is arguably the best defensive player on the Jets and he’s proven that through the first two weeks. The former first-round pick may not have a sack yet, but he’s registered 11 tackles, three tackles for loss, and a fumble recovery in New York’s first two contests.
Ahead of Sunday’s matchup, the Patriots have three interior offensive linemen who have questionable designations (Cole Strange, Mike Onwenu, and Sidy Sow). Taking that into account, Williams can aid the Jets in trying to flip field position on the defensive side of the ball to give themselves a chance to beat the Patriots for the first time since 2015.
Aside from Williams, Sauce Gardner has an argument to be made for him being the best defensive player on the Jets. Gardner was a first-team All-Pro as a rookie in 2022 and is still one of the premier defensive backs in the entire league.
After having to face Stefon Diggs and CeeDee Lamb in the first two weeks, the Jets will have to gameplan for a mixture of JuJu Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, and Hunter Henry. Gardner doesn’t have an interception yet as teams tend to avoid his side of the field, but Sunday’s game would be a perfect time for him to make a game-changing play if he’s targeted.