New York Jets schedule: Why Week 2 looms particularly large

National eyes have turned to the New York Jets’ opening matchup in Charlotte, but the home opener against New England will be a true test.

For all its flaws, the NFL status as a genius marketing behemoth cannot be denied.

Its draft is no longer two days in April expanding into a year-round process, a major tenet of which involves a lot of Indianapolis-based spandex and bench presses. Preseason games whose box scores are immediately scorched when the clock hits all zeroes get ratings are given national priority alongside late-season baseball games.

Perhaps the most obvious sign of the NFL’s stranglehold on the American imagination is the release of its annual schedule. The question of “who” yields no surprises…14 of a given team’s 17 opponents are predetermined years in advance and 17 are solidified by the end of final week action…but the question of “when”, the mere attachment of times and dates to these matchups, causes We the People to lose our collective minds. Playoff races in basketball and hockey are cast aside on national highlights show to debate whether the Chicago Bears deserved the Thanksgiving treatment.

Despite the relative lack of surprises, the New York Jets did learn some intriguing info. Though bereft of prime time games, save for a November Thursday night’s excursion to Indianapolis, the Jets will nonetheless study abroad in London, facing off with Atlanta in October. But the matchup everyone’s talking about comes in the Jets’ Week 1 visit to Charlotte to battle the Carolina Panthers.

By now, everyone knows what’s at stake at Bank of America Stadium come September 12: the hope of the Jets’ present and future meets the ghost of all-too-recent football past in the form of Sam Darnold (and Robby Anderson, among others). Despite the combatants carrying over a combined six wins from 2020, many have pegged the interconference showdown as one of the most anticipated get-togethers of opening weekend.

Opening with Carolina works from a Jets perspective in the sense that they can remove Darnold from their list of early “distractions” and carry on with the rest of what’s sure to be a developmental year. But, to that end, their home opener in Week 2 may loom even larger.

For their 2021 home opener, the Jets will welcome the New England Patriots into East Rutherford for the first of their yearly pair. What happens for those precious three hours at MetLife Stadium could well set a permanent tone for what the Jets’ leadership triumvirate of Joe Douglas, Woody Johnson, and Robert Saleh are trying to build.

Put aside the fact that three Presidents of the United States have held office and 11 Marvel Cinematic Universe films have been released since the Jets have emerged victorious from a showdown with the Patriots. Zach Wilson’s presumed home opener will mean everything to a Jets team that must do everything in its power to get started on the right note.

It might feel like an eternity since the Jets had a winning record, but one only has to flashback to September 2018. A 48-17 win over the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football had the fanbase buzzing. The fact that Sam Darnold’s first NFL pass was a pick-six was offset by a strong defensive effort (five turnovers) and the run game run up 179 on the ground. Darnold even made up for his early gaffe with two touchdown tosses in the dominant effort.

However, things came to a crashing halt in the MetLife Stadium opener against Miami. Facing off against future boss Adam Gase, the Jets surrendered the first 20 points before making things somewhat respectable late in a 20-12 loss. It was a sloppy game whose final score was nowhere near indicative of just how one-sided it was.

Now, the Darnold/Gase era didn’t falter solely because they lost to the Dolphins in Week 2 of the former’s rookie campaign. But, in hindsight, it served as perfect foreshadowing of the struggles to come: they turned the ball over three times, saw their rushing protection fall to 41 yards on 17 attempts, and allowed Darnold to get sacked three times. Penalties were prevalent, with the Jets losing 50 yards on seven infractions. Three resulted in Miami’s first downs and a particularly embarrassing sequence

The Jets are still trying to pick up the pieces to this day. That loss signaled the beginning of the end of the Todd Bowles era, mustering a mere three wins after that before he was let go at the end of his third season at the helm. It placed the Jets on a collision course with the disastrous Gase era, a period whose strongest yield was probably the fact it led the hiring of a sound football mind like Saleh, whose arrival has garnered praise both domestically and abroad.

Miami was merely a microcosm of what was to come under Darnold, as it highlighted the issues that would plague his star-crossed New York career. Of the ten starting men that suited up for the Jets that afternoon, only one other (Chris Herndon) was on the team in 2020. The Dolphins were credited with only three sacks of Darnold, but he was nonetheless forced to run for his life, to the tune of five other quarterback takedowns.

Negligence on both the offensive line (featuring only one player chosen within the first day of the draft, the former Seattle Seahawk James Carpenter) and run game (Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell) was a hint of things to come. Current management has seen to counter these issues, using first-round choices (Mehki Becton/Alijah Vera-Tucker) to protect Wilson and bolstering the run game with a stopgap rusher who has been a vital cog in Super Bowl runs (Tevin Coleman).

This season’s home opener is also going to take on a special meaning. Improvements have been discussed ad nauseam but MetLife Stadium will be packed to the brim with fans for a Jets game for the first time since December 2019. We, the football-loving people, have been through a lot over the past year-plus. Fans of the Jets and 13 other NFL teams were denied the simple pleasure of spending Sunday in a parking lot, surrounded by 80,000 of their new best friends. With restrictions loosening across the country, it feels (knock on wood) like it’s only a matter of time before all 30 NFL facilities get the go-ahead to pack the house. No matter the result that day, the first spelling of Jets will be downright emotional.

A brilliant tone can be set for the team moving forward, or another distressing sign of things to come could emerge. What the Jets do in these early hours will mean the world.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets to open season against a familiar face

The New York Jets‘ Week 1 game has finally been released and it should be an interesting one. On Sept. 12, the Jets will travel to Carolina to face Sam Darnold and the Panthers.

Sam Darnold, who was dealt to Carolina after a subpar three seasons in New York, will be getting an early chance to show what they moved on from. For the Jets and Zach Wilson, it’ll be an early chance for them to show why they moved in a new direction.

Darnold isn’t the only former Jet on the Panthers’ roster, though. They also have WR Robby Anderson, S Justin Burris, OL Pat Elflein, RB Trenton Cannon and LB Frankie Luvu on their team.

As for New York, new additions on offense, including WR’s Corey Davis and Elijah Moore, will look to make it a better day for Zach Wilson than Sam Darnold.

The Jets haven’t defeated the Panthers since 2001, winning 13-12. However, they have been good recently in road openers, winning four of their last six. They’ll look to make that five of their last seven.

New HC Robert Saleh will look to start his era with a win on the road, and what better way to start than against the former “franchise quarterback.”

Facts and figures of the 2021 New York Jets schedule

As the 2021 NFL schedule leaks out, ESM has facts and figures for every happening involving the New York Jets.

As the New York Jets’ schedule emerges, ESM has everything you need to know about their 2021 slate…

(All times ET and subject to change for Weeks 5-17) 

Week 1: 9/12 @ Carolina

1 p.m. ET, CBS/Paramount+ 

Revenge is a dish potentially served early for Sam Darnold, as he won’t have to wait long to see his former employers. Darnold won’t be the only bearer of green involved in this Week 1 tilt, as other ex-Jets on the Carolina roster include Robby Anderson, Pat Elflein, Juston Burris, and Frankie Luvu. This marks the Jets’ first visit to Charlotte since 2013, and they’re 1-3 all-time at the establishment now known as Bank of America Stadium (the lone win coming in 2001). The Jets’ last two openers came against the Buffalo Bills and they open with an NFC opponent for the first since 2018 (a 48-17 win in Detroit).

Week 2: 9/19 vs. New England 

1: p.m. ET, CBS/Paramount+

The East Rutherford edition of the annual Jets-Patriots pair was part of ESPN’s Monday Night Football package in each of the last two seasons but shifts back to an early afternoon slot. Time will tell if it’s a matchup between first-round quarterbacks Zach Wilson and Mac Jones, but the Jets will still have plenty to play for. They haven’t beaten the Patriots since the 2015 overtime thriller in East Rutherford. Their last win over New England in regulation came in the Patriots’ first visit in 2010.

Week 3: 9/26 @ Denver

4:05 p.m. ET, CBS/Paramount+

The Jets’ furthest trip out west…as well as their lone scheduled game in the Sunday late afternoon timeslot…is a trip to the Mile High City. This will mark the fourth get-together between the Jets and Broncos over the last five seasons, the last two coming in East Rutherford. New York will likely look to avenge a 37-28 defeat suffered in an October edition of Thursday Night Football.

Week 4: 9/26 vs. Tennessee

1 p.m. ET, CBS/Paramount+

The first of six meetings against playoff participants comes in Week 4 against the Titans. While Mike Vrabel has had his share of success against the Jets (13-4 as a player, 1-0 as a coach), but the Jets have had the better of this series since the Titans left Houston behind, currently holding a 7-4 lead. Tennessee will visit East Rutherford for a Jets game for the first time since 2015, a 30-8 Jets win. Incoming receiver Corey Davis will face off against his former comrades for the first time.

Week 5: 10/10 vs. Atlanta (@ London)

9:30 a.m. ET, NFL Network

The Jets will play their third regular season game beyond United States soil, previously topping Buffalo in Toronto in 2009 and Miami in London in 2015. They’ll serve as the road team in a game against the Atlanta Falcons, who will appear in their first international game since 2014. Atlanta is coming off a four-win season but enjoyed a significant offensive boost through the selection of Florida tight Kyle Pitts with the fourth pick of the recent draft. The game will be staged at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, home of the eponymous English Premier League team.

Week 7: 10/24 @ New England

1 p.m. ET, CBS/Paramount+

Granted the traditional bye after an international game, the Jets will have an extra week to prepare for the house of horrors that is Gillette Stadium. They’ll need all the help they can get, as they haven’t won a regular season game in Foxboro since 2008. In fact, the last one-possession game they had against New England on the road came back in 2015.

Week 8: 10/31 vs. Cincinnati 

1 p.m. ET, CBS/Paramount+

It’s probably appropriate that the Jets’ meeting with the Bengals comes on Halloween, as things turned horrifying the last time they met in 2019 through New York’s 22-6 loss to their 0-11 hosts at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati has won each of the last three meetings, dating back to 2013. If anything, this should be one of the more intriguing matchups in recent memory, as it will feature two recent first-round quarterbacks, Wilson and Joe Burrow, doing battle for the first time.

Week 9: 11/4 @ Indianapolis 

8:20 p.m. ET, Fox/NFL Network/Amazon Prime

The loss of Sma Darnold, whose Jets career indirectly began with a trade between the Jets and Colts, perhaps dims the luster a bit, but that didn’t stop the powers that be at Thursday Night Football from scheduling this indirect matchup between former Philadelphia Eagles. After all, Joe Douglas was in the front office when the future Super Bowl champions drafted current Colt Carson Wentz with the second overall pick in 2016. The Jets will also be looking to avenge a 36-7 defeat at the hands of the Colts last year and end their bad luck on Thursday night, having lost each of their last three appearances.

Week 10: 11/14 vs. Buffalo

1 p.m. ET, CBS/Paramount+

The Jets are coming off their first sweep at the hands of the defending AFC finalist Bills since 2015. Even more shocking, they’ve lost three in a row at home, dating back to a 41-10 shellacking engineered by Matt Barkley.

Week 11: 11/21 vs. Miami

1 p.m. ET, CBS/Paramount+

New York will be looking to solve their problems against the Dolphins: Miami has swept the Jets in three of the last five seasons and they mustered only a single field goal against them last season (coming in a 20-3 loss in East Rutherford). Making these matchups all the more crucial? AFC East bragging rights. The Dolphins’ sweep created a 55-55-1 tie in the all-time series.

Week 12: 11/28 @ Houston

1 p.m. ET, CBS/Paramount+

Not too long, the idea of Deshaun Watson donning a Jets uniform seemed rather realistic. Several months later, there’s doubt that Watson, continuing to deal with sexual assault allegations, will even suit up for the 2021 season. The Jets have lost each of their last three meetings with the Texans (including the last visit to Houston in 2015), their last triumph coming in November 2010. This game is a bit of a homecoming for head coach Robert Saleh, who served in a variety of Houston defensive roles for six seasons (2005-10).

Week 13: 12/5 vs. Philadelphia

1 p.m. ET, CBS/Paramount+

The NFL’s new 17th game procedures moved up what was a quadrennial matchup between these green foes, but the Jets probably wouldn’t have minded waiting until 2023 to see the Eagles again. Philadelphia has been anything but sunny from a Jets standpoint, as the Eagles have won 11 meetings of a series dating back to 1973.

Week 14: 12/12 vs. New Orleans

1 p.m. ET, Fox

This series dates back to 1972, but the Jets and Saints will do battle for only the 14th time, New York holding a 7-6 advantage. New Orleans has won three of the last four matchups, though this will be the first without Drew Brees since 2005 when Aaron Brooks guided the team to a 21-19 road victory at Giants Stadium.

Week 15: 12/18 or 19 @ Miami

TBD

While the NFL has yet to confirm, it’s possible that the second matchup between the Jets and Dolphins could be flexed into a Saturday game, depending on the potential playoff implications behind it. The Jets’ have had a hard time taking their talents to South Beach in recent years, last winning at Hard Rock Stadium in 2015.

Week 16: 12/26 vs. Jacksonville

1 p.m. ET, CBS/Paramount+

Whether they like it or not, the careers of Wilson and Trevor Lawrence will be forever linked as the opening picks of the 2021 NFL Draft. Football fans get a belated Christmas gift in the form of their first on-field meeting…with they be proven naughty or nice? This is another reunion game for Saleh, who was Jacksonville’s linebackers coach for three seasons, as well as receiver Keelan Cole, who joined the Jets after four seasons.

Week 17: 1/2 vs. Tampa Bay

1 p.m, ET, Fox

The Tom Brady nightmare continues for the Jets, who welcome in the defending champions for their final home game of the year. Despite Brady’s stellar record against the Jets (29-7, his second-best win tally against any non-Buffalo opponent), he’ll have to help erase Tampa’s brutal history against green invaders: The Jets own a 10-2 advantage in the series, though the Bucs won the last matchup 15-10 in November 2017.

Week 18: 1/9 @ Buffalo

TBD

One can’t definitively tell the story of the Jets-Bills rivalry without bringing up a last-game-of-the-season meeting in Orchard Park. For their first Week 18 matchup, the Jets venture up to Western New York, where they’ve actually had some success at Highmark Stadium in recent times, winning three of their last five visits (albeit one being a different season finale tilt in 2019 with nothing on the line for either team).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: 5 games that could get the national TV treatment

When can New York Jets fans expect to see their team in prime time? ESM investigates with the official schedules on their way out tonight.

Nothing showcases the stranglehold that the NFL holds on the American imagination than the release of its annual schedule. The 2021 edition emerges on Wednesday, with early game reveals scheduled for the morning programs of Fox, CBS, and ABC (Fox & Friends, CBS This Morning, and Good Morning America respectively) before the full schedule is posted in prime time.

Contrary to the popular belief that performance dictates how “easy” or “hard” a team’s schedule is, there’s hardly any surprise involved when it comes to an individual team’s opponents. By the time we get to Wednesday’s reveals, everyone knows who their team is going to play in 2021. Heck, the NFL’s scheduling formula allows us to look to, say, 2049, and figure out all but three opponents for the year ahead. But the mere attachment of times and dates causes we, the football-hungry public, to break out into hysterics, a process and celebration that the league has now turned into an all-day affair.

The drama of schedule release day has been relatively benign for fans of the New York Jets. Trapped in a playoff drought that just hit double figures, the Jets have mostly been bestowed the comparatively mundane 1:00 p.m. ET timeslot in a majority of their contests. For example, they haven’t been a part of NBC’s Sunday Night Football package since 2011, seeing several other opportunities to appear on the peacock network erased by flexible scheduling.

But with the arrival of head coach Robert Saleh and offensive weapons, the young Jets could be worth watching and putting on a national stage again. Putting them in the playoff discussion might be a tad much, but there’s no doubt whatsoever that the Jets are in a much more intriguing spot than they were last year. Suddenly, there’s drama behidn the numbers again.

Which games could get the national call? ESM takes a look at five…

1. @ Carolina Panthers

There’s not much history between the Jets and Panthers. The teams have met only seven times and last faced off in Charlotte in 2013. But the Sam Darnold…and, to a lesser extent, Robby Anderson…factor changes everything. The new New York guard…Zach Wilson and Elijah Moore…going up against the old…Darnold and Robby Anderson…makes this a game the Jets could use as a barometer to see where they are in the latest chapter of their rebuild.

The Jets and Panthers may not be fighting for postseason position this year, but they’re in remarkably similar spots: trapped in a division with a powerful conference finalist that shows no signs of relenting, but equipped with hope through young offensive weaponry.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars

Whether they like it or not, Wilson and Trevor Lawrence are forever linked through their status as the opening two picks of the 2021 NFL Draft. Despite the Jets and Jaguars’ recent ineptitude…the two united for three wins last season…this will be an attractive game for the rookie throwers alone.  But there’s so much young talent from the past few drafts that the game should probably be called by Mel Kiper and Todd McShay. Wilson is aided by Moore, Denzel Mims, and Michael Carter, while the Jacksonville side is further repped by DJ Chark, Laviska Chenault, and Travis Etienne.

On top of it all, it well could feature Tim Tebow’s return to MetLife Stadium, the site of some of his most recent NFL regular season action. But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves…

3. Buffalo Bills

The divisional rivalry loses a little luster with the loss of Darnold, Josh Allen’s fellow 2018 draftee. But Buffalo tightened its grip on the hearts of Empire State football with a downright historic season that ended in the AFC Championship Game. Divisional rivalries tend to get priority placement when it comes to the national TV schedule and the Bills would be the most attractive opponent to place in the slot with the New York connections in mind.

4. New England Patriots

The Jets-Patriots rivalry is at an interesting point in that both teams are reeling from losing seasons. But even in their unfamiliar squalor, the Patriots managed to sweep their yearly pair with the Jets last season. A new chapter of the rivalry begins with both teams boasting first-round quarterbacks: Wilson emerges for the Jets while the Patriots counter with Mac Jones.

New York-Boston rivalries always get national attention and the Jets-Patriots matchup has received a Monday Night date in each of the last two seasons. But the two teams’ status as AFC East also-rans, not to mention the uncertainty around the idea of Jones starting (you know Cam Newton won’t go down without a fight) could raise some red flags.

5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Just when you thought the Tom Brady nightmare was over, the seven-time Super Bowl champion returns for (at least) one last scare in the form of an interconference game with the defending champions. Networks have a bit of an unhealthy obsession with New York schadenfreude, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see Brady’s reunion with his old metropolitan buddies get the national treatment.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags