Jets' Zach Wilson on first game against Patriots, Bill Belichick: 'I think it's gonna be a great challenge for me'

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Zach Wilson front view vs. Panthers
Zach Wilson front view vs. Panthers

Jets QB Zach Wilson has been alive for 22 Super Bowls.

The Patriots have been in nine of them.

It feels like even more to the rookie.

"It's crazy, 'cause I almost feel like every year looking back, it's them in the Super Bowl," he said on Thursday. "They all start mushing together. You can't even remember which one is which."

He'll get his first crack at the new-look, same-coach Patriots this Sunday, and he'll have to try to navigate a Bill Belichick-led defense which is notorious for giving rookie QBs a hard time.

"I'm excited for it," he said. "I think it's gonna be a great challenge for me. ... It's just getting used to their scheme, how we can beat some of the things they're going to throw at us. It's no secret what they're going to throw at us. Now you gotta try and stop it."

The newest thing about the Patriots is fellow rookie QB Mac Jones, who was drafted 13 spots after Wilson, who said he's become friendly with Jones from encounters during the NFL Combine and the NFL Draft.

"All those quarterbacks coming out of the draft, you really hope the best for them," Jones said.

Count Jets DC Jeff Ulbrich as someone who might disagree with that sentiment, at least regarding Jones.

“(Jones) is way better than I wanted him to be," Ulbrich said Thursday with a sense of humor. "You anticipate seeing a young inexperienced quarterback making young inexperienced quarterback type decisions. Didn't see a whole lot of that."

Ulbrich also said game-planning for the Patriots' two TEs -- Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry -- has been high on the priority list.

"There's gonna be times when they get those guys in space," he said. "Both those guys can run, both the guys are dynamic type athletes. They have a little savvy to them ... it's gonna be a good challenge."

Ulbrich on loss of S Joyner

Ulbrich also touched on the loss of S Lamarcus Joyner, who suffered a season-ending elbow injury on Sunday against the Broncos.

Joyner, 30, had played double-digit games in his first seven seasons.

"It hurts," he said. "Obviously from the player on the field, but he has a level of experience. he had a voice. he had command of the backend. He had culture stuff, too. ... He had a tremendous influence on the younger players."