6 rings: kadlick's crucial clashes - pats vs. jets
Matchups, matchups, matchups. They’re what make the football world go ‘round and they're what keep coaches up at night trying to get an edge on their opponent in a given week.
On Sunday, the 0-2 Patriots will take on the 1-1 Jets from The Meadowlands for their first of two matchups this season. In our WEEI.com version of key matchups, here are three crucial clashes to keep an eye on during the contest:
- Zach Wilson vs. Bill Belichick
One of my key matchups last week was Mac Jones versus the Vic Fangio, a clash between two cerebral minds that was, on the outset thought to be evenly matched.
This week, we go into a much more lopsided one between third-year fringe-bust Zach Wilson and one of the greatest defensive minds in the history of football in Bill Belichick.
“Really athletic quarterback, we’ve seen him before.” Those are the only words Belichick used to describe The Jets’ signal caller on Wednesday.
Zach Wilson has started four games against the Patriots in his career. He has completed just over 50% of his passes (50.9% to be exact) for 693 yards, two touchdowns, and seven (!!) interceptions.
The Jets are 0-4 in said games.
A team once thought to be led by Aaron Rodgers, the Jets are now the ones trying to lead with Wilson dragging behind them. If the past is any indication of the present, Sunday could be rough sledding for the former BYU Cougar once again.
- Patriots offensive line vs. the Jets defensive front
The Patriots’ piecemeal offensive line will once again be put under a microscope this week as they head to the Meadowlands against another fierce defense.
Their front seven, who Belichick called “disruptive”, includes Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers, Jermaine Johnson, and Will McDonald IV along the line, but they also play “about nine guys up there” which also brings their linebackers into the mix.
“I think [C.J.] Mosley is really the guy who is, really, a key guy for them on the defense,” Belichick explained on Sunday. “He’s one of the best, most instinctive players in the league. Always a problem, really hard guy to fool or to get on anything. He makes tackles on the line of scrimmage and he breaks up passes 15-20 yard down field. Really, really good player. One of the best we’ll see all year, one of the best in the league for sure.”
Across the ball from Mosley is a Patriots offensive line that, due to injury, has been scrapped together over the past two weeks. On Sunday, however, it looks like they’ll be back to full strength.
An offensive line that “is coming together” according to Mac Jones, saw both Trent Brown and rookie Sidy Sow return to practice on Wednesday after dealing with concussions the week prior. The unit also got a bit of a financial jolt on Tuesday when they agreed to terms with Brown on a revised contract. The 6-foot-9 monster should be full go this week. This is what it could look like on Sunday:
LT Trent Brown
LG Cole Strange
C David Andrews
RG Mike Onwenu
RT Calvin Anderson
Aside from Riley Reiff being on IR, this is as close to the preseason plan along the like as New England can get right now. Perfect timing, given that they’re going against this top-tier Jets front.
- Garrett Wilson vs. Christian Gonzalez
Jet’s wide receiver Garrett Wilson, who the team drafted with the 10th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, has been a godsend for their wide receiver room. The shifty pass catcher was not only a 1,000+ yard receiver during his rookie season, but he’s also been one of the new bright spots for this New York offense since the loss of Aaron Rodgers for the season. Wilson has two touchdown catches through two games - both worthy of the highlight reel. Check them out:
Wilson is ready for the Jets to turn the tide on their 14-game losing streak versus the Patriots, something he called “unacceptable”:
"It's time that things change around here. I don't like talking about it too much, but this is one of the first steps. Fourteen straight is unacceptable,” the wide receiver told ESPN’s Rich Cimini. “I inherited -- I walked into a team that, we haven't beaten the Patriots. I feel like that's why they brought me here, brought me and Sauce here and the guys here -- to make things like that change. It's time we do what we get paid for."
This weekend will be quite the test for Wilson, who will line up across from a fellow youngster in Patriots rookie Christian Gonzalez. New England’s first round pick in 2023, the 6-foot-2 boundary cornerback has already been sensational to start his career. Not only has he also made two highlight reel plays in two games, but he’s also tallied 11 tackles, two pass breakups, and a PFF grade of 82.6 - good for third in the entire NFL.
The matchup between these two is going to be quite the show.
Getcha popcorn ready.