September 20, 2021

Are the Jets and Giants Watchable Yet?

Sometimes you can tell just from the final score that a game was a stinker, and this one ended, 25-6, in the Patriots’ favor. Stalled drives, missed extra points, field goal after field goal — it’s right there in the point totals. It’s only Week 2 for the Jets, and it’s only the second game of the Zach Wilson era, but it feels the same as it ever was.

Verdict: Keep moving — nothing to see here. — Devin Gordon

Welcome to the N.F.L., rookie.

Jets fans were seeing the ghost of Sam Darnold in quarterback Zach Wilson during Sunday’s loss in East Rutherford, N.J. NFL Network’s RedZone channel probably had a massive viewership spike in the New York metropolitan market after 2 p.m., with the game well in hand by the third quarter.

Patriots defensive backs J.C. Jackson and Adrian Phillips caught passes from Wilson before a Jets receiver did, and each of Wilson’s four interceptions were progressively worse decisions — the fourth being a pass that seemed intended for New England safety Devin McCourty.

Wilson is the latest baby-faced quarterback to end up on the mantel of Bill Belichick, who has lost to only six rookie quarterbacks in his New England tenure — never at home. From 2006 to the start of this season, here are some of the combined statistics of the 20 games rookie quarterbacks have played against the Patriots’ defense: a 55 percent completion rate (the lowest in 2020 was the Eagles’ 56 percent), 19 touchdowns to 30 interceptions (2020 worst: Denver’s 21:23 ratio), and 53 sacks (2020 worst: the Eagles’ 64). Belichick turns rookie quarterbacks into the worst passing offenses in the N.F.L.

Meanwhile, Belichick’s rookie quarterback, Mac Jones, was consistently forced to dump the ball off underneath, and almost all of the Patriots’ yardage came after the catch. Jets Coach Robert Saleh’s defense performed well given how much time it spent on the field in the first half, and their “bend but don’t break” approach kept New England from blowing the game open early.

The Jets are playing rookies more than anyone else in the league at the moment. This is as torn down as a tear-down gets, and it probably won’t be until the Jets face the Titans (Week 4) and Falcons (Week 5) that the young guys will be able to showcase their potential.

Verdict: Not yet, and it’ll be a while. — Diante Lee