Two of the five quarterbacks selected in the first round of this year's draft collide as No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson and the New York Jets host No. 15 overall pick Mac Jones and the New England Patriots in an AFC East divisional clash on Sunday afternoon in East Rutherford, N.J.
Neither highly-touted quarterback was victorious in their respective NFL debuts last Sunday.
Wilson threw for 258 yards, two touchdowns and an interception on 20-for-37 passing in New York's 19-14 defeat at Carolina. Meanwhile, Jones finished 29-for-39 with 281 yards and a touchdown in New England's 17-16 loss against Miami.
Both were victims of poor protection as Wilson was sacked six times while Jones was sacked once, but took a number of bruising hits.
In Wilson, the Patriots will have to prepare for somewhat of an unknown as the promising 22-year-old makes just his second career start. However, New England coach Bill Belichick has seen enough of Wilson already to declare him a capable conductor of the Jets' offense.
"He's an explosive player," Belichick said. "He's got a great arm. Live arm. Makes all the throws. Athletic. Like any young player, you know, they gain experience and get better every time they go out there."
Under Belichick, New England has historically fared well against rookie quarterbacks with a 21-6 record against them during his 22 seasons coaching the Patriots. On the road, however, Belichick's teams are just 8-6 against first-year starters under center.
On the opposing sideline, New York knows full well how difficult Belichick-crafted defenses are to prepare for. Jets tight end Tyler Kroft said the team must be ready to face a mixed bag of coverages throughout the game.
"We know New England will be going to come with its bag of tricks," Kroft told the team's Inside The Jets Radio Show. "They'll give us the whole Rolodex of coverages and fronts, and they're going to put a lot on Zach's plate. We have to be locked in and our communication will have to be on point."
Jets linebacker Jamien Sherwood (ankle) did not practice Wednesday and wide receiver Keelan Cole (knee) was limited. Coach Robert Saleh said that Cole and fellow wideout Jamison Crowder (COVID-19 list) were expected to be available for the game.
Patriots left tackle Trent Brown (calf) and linebacker Kyle Van Noy (throat) did not participate at Wednesday's practice. Meanwhile, tackle Yodny Cajuste (hamstring) and linebacker Ronnie Perkins (shoulder) were limited. Wideout Nelson Agholor (ankle) and defensive backs Kyle Dugger (wrist) and Jalen Mills (ankle) were listed as full participants.
New York dropped both games against New England a season ago and has lost 10 straight meetings over the last five seasons. The Jets' last win against the Patriots was a 26-20 overtime victory on Dec. 27, 2015 at home.
It is the Jets' first home game in front of fans since a Dec. 22, 2019 win over Pittsburgh.
To celebrate the return of Jets football to the New York Metropolitan area, the Empire State Building in New York City will be lit up in the Jets' Gotham Green on Saturday.
--Field Level Media