Jets vs Cowboys: 6 things to know about Week 2 opponent

It was almost a perfect win for the Dallas Cowboys to open the schedule, but the NFL season moves quickly and the team is now preparing for the New York Jets in Week 2. At 1-0, the Cowboys have the look of a contender, and now they return to Texas to play their first home game of the year.

Expect things to be different in Week 2, games are rarely that easy. The Jets present new challenges and are coming off a thrilling overtime win on Monday Night Football. Because the Jets finished the league’s opening week slate, the Cowboys get an extra day of rest, which could be the little help that swings the tide in their favor.

Here are six more things to know about the Cowboys’ Wek 2 opponent.

No Rodgers-McCarthy rematch

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Last year there was a much-anticipated matchup of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his former coach Mike McCarthy at Lambeau Field. Conventional wisdom was that would be the only time the two faced off against each other.

When Rodgers was traded to the Jets, McCarthy was expected to get his chance at redemption after the Cowboys blew a double-digit lead and lost to his former signal caller last season.

Unfortunately, that won’t happen after Rodgers was lost for the year after tearing his Achilles just four snaps into his Jets career. Round 2 of McCarthy and Rodgers will have to wait, and McCarthy may never get his shot at beating his former star student.

Zach Wilson is back in the saddle

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) on the field after the game. The Jets defeat the Bills in overtime, 22-16, in the home opener at MetLife Stadium on Monday, Sept. 11, 2023, in East Rutherford.
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) on the field after the game. The Jets defeat the Bills in overtime, 22-16, in the home opener at MetLife Stadium on Monday, Sept. 11, 2023, in East Rutherford.

When the Jets made the deal for Rodgers, they relegated third-year quarterback Zach Wilson to a backup role. It had been a rough first two seasons in the NFL for Wilson, who compiled an 8-14 record and has thrown for more interceptions than touchdowns (16-19) thus far.

With the injury to Rodgers, Wilson is back to lead the offense. Wilson’s play wasn’t spectacular in Week 1, but he did manage to guide the Jets to a victory while throwing for one score.

The Jets have applauded Wilson for his work once Rodgers arrived, now it’s time to see how much he’s soaked up learning behind the future Hall of Famer. Head coach Robert Saleh has spoken about how much Wilson has improved, and the Cowboys will get a chance to see if that rings true.

Wilson was the second pick in the 2021 draft for a reason, he has talent and he’ll get his opportunity to prove people wrong.

Offensive line is suspect

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

If the Dallas defense enjoyed getting after Daniel Jones last week, they should be excited at similar prospects against the other team from New York. Just as the Giants’ offensive line is a work progress, so is the group upfront for the Jets.

The Buffalo Bills had three sacks against the Rodgers/Wilson backfield and pressured the QBs most of the game. New York’s offensive line struggles are surprising considering they have four first-round picks as starters, but they had a rough Week 1 with a Bills defensive line that isn’t as good, or as deep, as the Cowboys.

Combine the Jets’ suspect offensive line play with a QB who tends to hold onto the ball in the pocket and there’s a recipe for the Cowboys to rack up the sacks again after totaling seven in Week 1. Wilson’s been sacked 69 times in his 23 career starts, so Dan Quinn’s defense will have the chance to affect the game.

Two-headed monster at RB

Mandatory Credit: Wm. Glasheen/Appleton Post-Crescent-USA TODAY NETWORK
Mandatory Credit: Wm. Glasheen/Appleton Post-Crescent-USA TODAY NETWORK

The passing game didn’t thrive under Wilson in their win on Monday night, but their running game is in good hands with the dynamic RB duo of Breece Hall and Dalvin Cook. In Cook’s first game with his new team, he led the offense with 13 carries, but it was Hall who was the star.

Hall rushed for 127 yards on just 10 carries, which included an 83-yard run that he almost took to the house. That tote followed a 26-yard scamper on Hall’s first carry. It was an impressive showing from the second-year RB, who had his rookie season cut short by a torn ACL.

Cook’s numbers weren’t as eye-popping as Hall’s, but the veteran is still effective, and both are dangerous in the running game. The duo combined for 160 yards on 23 carries against the Bills and the Cowboys need to keep the rushing attack for the Jets in check.

A star at WR

The Jets don’t have prolific receiving group, but second-year wide receiver Garrett Wilson is a star in the making. Wilson caught 83 balls for 1,103 yards as a rookie and continued his path to greatness with a sensational, juggling touchdown catch in Week 1.

Wilson was poised to take a next-level leap with Rodgers at quarterback, but even with Wilson throwing him the ball, the WR is ready to breakout. The 10th overall pick in 2022 caught all five of his targets from Wilson, and though it wasn’t for much yardage, that can change this week. Wilson-to-Wilson is a good enough connection to do damage.

The Cowboys have an elite duo at cornerback, but they weren’t challenged like this last week. Wilson presents a significant threat in the passing game for the Jets.

Defense is outstanding

Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys boast one of the best defenses in the league, and the Jets are one of the few teams that might be able to challenge them for that claim. The Jets’ top-notch group is strong at all levels and has elite playmakers throughout.

Quinnen Williams leads a defensive line that wreaks havoc on offenses. As the third-overall pick in the 2019 draft, Williams is coming off his best season where he was named a First-Team All-Pro with 12 sacks. He didn’t get a sack in Week 1, but Williams did slow the run and had a tackle for a loss.

The defensive line had three sacks in the opener and is deep with young pass rushers. Last year’s first-round pick Jermaine Johnson and 2023 first-round selection Will McDonald are among a group paired with Williams, Quinton Jefferson, John Franklin-Meyers, and Solomon Thomas that make life difficult on offenses.

On the backend, the Jets have one of the league’s best secondaries, led by cornerback Sauce Gardner. The stellar CB was a First-Team All-Pro and the Defensive Rookie of the Year last season. Gardner had an impressive 20 passed defensed and two interceptions last year on his way to already becoming one of the league’s top CBs.

Gardner is the best CB for the Jets, but it’s deep secondary that includes D.J. Reed at corner and safety Jordan Whitehead, who had three interceptions off Bills quarterback Josh Allen last week.

The Jets defense was third in the league against the pass last season, giving up under 190 yards per game, and they picked up where they left off in Week 1. There was some success in the Allen-to-Stefon Diggs connection, but the secondary didn’t allow much else.

Buffalo has an explosive offense that scored just 16 points against the Jets, so the Cowboys and their new scheme could find it tough to move the ball or score points. It’ll be a significant challenge for quarterback Dak Prescott, McCarthy and the rest of Dallas’ offense.

Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire