New York Jets 2021 opponent report: New England Patriots

There would be, perhaps, no better way for the New York Jets to open a new era than by ending their losing streak against the Patriots.

The Opponent: New England Patriots
The Dates: Week 2, September 19, 1 p.m. ET, CBS (@ NY)/Week 7, October 24, 1 p.m. ET, CBS (@ NE)*
The Series: New England leads 69-54-1 (last meeting: 2020, 28-14 NE)

*-(subject to flexible scheduling)

Year one of the post-Tom Brady era was a merciless kick back to reality for the New England Patriots. Yet, one tradition lingered from Brady’s historic tenure: beating the New York Jets.

For all the Patriots’ faults in 2020, they managed to keep their winning streak against the Jets alive, sweeping the annual pair for a fifth straight season. The Jets haven’t earned a sweep against New England since 2000…one year before Mo Lewis’ hit on Drew Bledsoe inadvertently shifted the course of NFL history. New England’s ten-game winning streak is the longest in the series that dates back to the days of the AFL, breaking a nine-game tally the Jets had between 1966 and 1970.

The Jets came close to ending the streak last season in a Monday night showdown in November at MetLife Stadium. New York, in fact, owned a two-possession lead entering the final quarter, but surrendered 13 points over the final six-plus minutes en route to a 30-27 defeat.

New York and New England also met in the final week of the season. Meaningless finales between the Jets and Patriots have been nothing new since the NFL instituted an all-divisional matchup slate for the last week, as New England would often rest starters going into the playoffs. This time, though, mere pride was on the line and the Patriots sent the Adam Gase era note out on an appropriate thud, topping the Jets 28-14.

Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Skinny on the Patriots

Bill Belichick is burdened with a load he hasn’t had to deal with in a long, long time: something to prove.

Few can question the impact and legacy…more a path of destruction…that Belichick has left behind. But last season created the closest thing to a smear one can make on Belichick’s New England ledger: Brady moved on to Tampa Bay and immediately won another Super Bowl with Belichick over 1,300 miles away.

Belichick isn’t like Michael Jordan: he won’t publicly declare that he “took that personally”. But Brady’s instant success in a new locale has to be eating at him a little. Every eye in the football world will turn to Foxboro on October 3, when Brady and the Buccaneers arrive for a Sunday night visit. But the Patriots will have a spotlight on them all season after last season’s flop.

Despite the departure Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and recent retiree Julian Edelman, the Patriots still have leftovers from their most recent glory days. Sony Michel’s third season was cut short by bouts on the COVID-19 list and injured reserve, but he performed well over the final three games of last season (287 yards on 40 touches). Devin McCourty returns for his 12th season, flanked by cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore and J.C. Jackson (the latter earning nine interceptions last season).

New York Jets, Hunter Henry
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

What’s New in New England?

Belichick did what any supposed villain would do after getting wronged: he spent a lot of money in an attempt to get revenge. 

New England spent over $316 million in free agency endeavors this offseason, a project headlined by swiping the top two available tight ends. The post-Gronkowski situation was even more garish, as Ryan Izzo and Devin Asiasi united for only 238 yards on 15 receptions last year.

New England remedied this issue by brining in Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith, dedicating over $12 million in 2021 cap space to the former AFC foes. The Patriots have never been hesitant to use two tight ends, routinely pairing Gronkowski with names like Brandon LaFell, Martellus Bennett, and Aaron Hernandez. Expect to see them reemploy more 12 personnel sets with two elite names in tow.

On defense, the Patriots brought in two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Matthew Judon. He’ll join  returnees Kyle Van Noy and Donte Hightower will re-don the Flying Elvis after one-year absences. Van Noy returns after one year with divisional rival Miami while Hightower opted out of last season in the midst of the health crisis. Speaking of front seven additions, the Patriots also added former Jet Henry Anderson, who never lived up to the $25 million extension granted to him in 2019.

No discussion about the post-Brady Patriots would be complete without looking at the quarterback situation. Cam Newton got off to a hot start but was never the same after missing an October game in Kansas City on the COVID-19 list. The 32-year-old Newton is projected to be the opening day starter but the Patriots used April’s 15th overall selection on Alabama thrower Mac Jones.

When it comes to the quarterback’s targets, the Patriots appear to be moving on from first-rounder N’Keal Harry. Jakobi Meyers returns for his third season after a breakthrough year in the slot (729 yards), while team added Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor from the west cost.

(Photo By Streeter Lecka)

How to Beat Them

-Wow, What a (Pass) Rush 

The home opener against the Patriots will be an early test for the Jets’ revamped pass rush.

Even Brady finds himself flustered by a strong backfield invasion; if not for that of the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles, for example, he might have a Super Bowl ring for every finger. The Jets played a rare role in a Brady denial during their most recent playoff triumph: on that magical evening in January 2011, the Jets took down the arguable GOAT five times.

No matter whom the Jets face under center, they have to up the pressure. Newton can still move around as he gets deeper into his 30s…he scored two on the ground in the first meeting last season…but this isn’t the same Newton we saw during his Carolina heyday. New England was 3-6 when teams blitzed on at least 25 percent of Newton’s snaps last season. The pressure situation should only increase with Jones in tow, as there would probably be no better way to welcome the national champion to the NFL than a relentless rush.

The Jets know just how important pressure will be. Their most impactful 2021 contract is Carl Lawson’s three-year, $45 million deal that lured him away from Cincinnati. Enough has been written about how Lawson has made a defensive impact despite pedestrian sack totals. The early showdown with the Patriots will give him a perfect opportunity to back the early praise up.

-Push the Patriots off the Pedestal 

The horrors that the Patriots have subjected the Jets to could qualify as the stuff of urban legends at this point. November’s aforementioned Monday night loss, for example, was a positive in mere sense that it was the Jets’ first one-possession loss since the infamous Austin Seferian-Jenkins incident in 2017.

Nothing would symbolize a new era of Jets football better than taking down the hated Patriots. So desperate is the metropolitan area for a sports celebration…the Canyon of Heroes has been vacant to local affairs since the Giants’ parade in 2011 (the United States’ World Cup champion women’s soccer team in 2015 and 2019 notwithstanding)…that plans for a Robert Saleh statue could be submitted if the Jets take that Week 2 tilt. The fact that fans will be welcomed back to MetLife Stadium for an NFL regular season game for the first time since December 2019 only adds to how much the Patriots’ will mean.

But the Jets can’t go in with that mindset. A win is a win, no matter who it comes against. The Patriots are the Patriots…they’re a football team not a boogeyman. New York shouldn’t buy into the increased hype just because it’s been a while since they’ve enjoyed a win over a certain divisional rival.

Saleh walked through MetLife Stadium for the first time in June. Unlike, say, Rex Ryan, the newly minted Jets boss wasn’t looking to create bulletin board material for the New England locker room. Instead, his focus lingered only what a win would mean for the New York area. He hoped to create a similar atmosphere seen during late spring’s postseason endeavors at Madison Square Garden and Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, where he witnessed the respective playoff runs of the New York Knicks and New York Islanders.

“I’m really excited to get it going and get that stadium filled where that thing becomes live again like it’s been in the past,” Saleh said in a report from team writer Eric Allen. “New York fans are extremely passionate. They love their home teams, they’re rabid to a sense and it’s awesome. It comes from just absolute love for their teams. But like everything else in the world, you got to earn it.”

“We’re excited about all the work we’re putting in. We’re excited to get the opportunity to earn the same response at MetLife stadium and let the fans light that place up.”

How important is it for the Jets to end their losing streak against New England? Follow @GeoffJMags on Twitter and continue the conversation.

Dylan Price’s Final Quarterback Rankings For The NFL Draft

New York Jets, Trevor Lawrence
  1. Trevor Lawerence
    Pro Comparison: Andrew Luck
    Let’s be real, there was a minimal amount of tape needed for me to feel comfortable in slotting Lawerence in here. He’s a near-perfect prospect. Great mental processing of the game, a superb arm, perfect size, and sneaky good athleticism. Lawerence matches all of this up by being a mature and grounded athlete as well. He’s dedicated to the game, and I don’t buy the debate he’s not devoted to this. I think Lawerence is going to embrace the media and embrace the almost “villain” role he had in college. I think back to the LSU game when fans were taunting him, and he just smiled. His confidence is off the charts, for better or for worse. Lawerence has bust potential, and landing in Jacksonville with a situation I don’t personally love isn’t ideal. I think he and Luck are similar in their rise, their mental game, and even their landing spot. The Jags need to surround Lawerence with talent and protection. If they can, then he will blossom into all he can be, and what Luck could have been had he played past 29. If he doesn’t have protection and ends up in a similar situation to Luck, then maybe those whispers about his questionable love for the game grow a little louder.2. Zach Wilson
    Pro Comparison: Baker Mayfield
    I truly don’t believe the gap between Lawerence and Wilson is as big as you think. I think where Wilson is hungry and has fought to get to this point, there is a risk of complacency with Trevor. That edge and that hunger is the first big allure with Wilson. He has a true fire for the game of football, and he’s willing to do it all to get his team down the field. From hurdling defenders to launching bombs, Wilson is not afraid to take risks. He has arguably the best touch on the ball in the draft, and his off-platform throws are on a Patrick Mahomes level. Size is a concern for some, not for me. The biggest fear for me in regards to Wilson is similar to Joe Burrow last year. The jump in performance can be attributed, in my opinion, to true growth from working with John Beck. I have concerns about how he will handle the NFL game without an elite offensive line, but presumably, the Jets will try to set him up best as possible. I went with Baker Mayfield on the comparison. He’s got raw talent, an edge, similar stature, and he’s a legitimate leader. I would even argue Wilson has the potential to surpass Baker and become a superstar in this league.

    3. Trey Lance
    Pro Comparison: Cam Newton
    I have become more and more enamored with Lance as this process has went on. I spoke to his quarterback coach a few weeks ago, and he spoke incredibly highly of Lance, but none of it was on the field. Lance has blown everyone I’ve talked to away in his pre-draft interviews. They’ve been just as intrigued with the person he is as they are with the player he is. He’s incredibly mature and an excellent leader. He played that lone game of the season, yes to get film, but also to ensure his teammates received their scholarship money. He’s someone who has the mental processing and leadership to be an elite-level quarterback. On the field, he’s an underrated runner, he has a very good deep ball, and he’s got the build to be a more durable player than Fields and maybe even Wilson. My concerns with Lance stem more from a lack of reps. What I’ve seen is good, but he hasn’t displayed enough as a thrower to lock him in as a top-level talent. He has the intuition and the maturity to succeed, he has the athleticism, and if he can progress as a thrower, he will be the total package. This is a comp I’ve not seen as prominently for Lance as expected. Newton is a runner who has a good arm but not a great one. The potential with Lance’s arm is greater, but there is a lot of Newton in the way Lance plays. My last thing about Lance is that I hope he lands in San Francisco. The chance to sit behind Garoppolo will give him a year to work for hands-on with Mike McDaniel and hopefully be ready to take the reins the following year.

    4. Justin Fields
    Pro Comparison: Deshaun Watson (Ceiling)/ Robert Griffin III (Floor)
    It’s ironic how the guy who some viewed with the safest ceiling is now the guy I’d grade out with the lowest floor. I want to preface this by saying there is a route where we look back on this, and Fields ends up as the best or second-best from this class. People forget, but a few years ago, Deshaun Watson was slept on due to coming out of Clemson and factors related to that. The difference in my opinion with Fields is that although he has all the physical tools in the world, his processing of the game needs to develop. Lance, Wilson, and Lawerence all have demonstrated the ability to adapt to more advanced defenses and higher-level competition overall, but with Fields, when his reads are not there, he struggles to adapt. Now, in the right system that can either make his life easy as Ohio State did or teach him how to handle more complex coverages, Fields can grow into a star. His toughness, durability, and as I previously noted athleticism, is superb. His mechanics with his deep ball throws remind me of Kyler Murray and his shortstop-like throws, but the way he lunges his body into longer throws could leave himself vulnerable to injuries. Fields still has a very high ceiling, but his floor is more resembling of Robert Griffin. It’s all or nothing with Fields, it just depends on the fit.

    5. Mac Jones
    Pro Comparison: Chad Pennington: I have never been in the Mac Jones camp but not based on talent. Jones has great touch with the ball, is arguably the most comfortable and traditional pocket passer in the class, and has sneaky athleticism. He also obviously is well-liked, but Jones fails to resonate with me as a legitimate leader. There are issues off the field with his history of driving intoxicated and other actions that are moderately inappropriate. Jones has the potential to be a franchise guy, just like the other four guys, but it’s less about fit for Jones and more about the talent around him. If Jones were to land in a spot like Denver where he had guys like Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, Courtland Sutton, and Noah Fant, he would be well equipped for success. Ultimately, Jones is going to need tools around him to elevate him, but most of all, he needs a support system to keep him on the right track. Pennington and Jones are similar passers and have very similar play styles as a whole, which made the comparison very easy to make.

    6. Kellen Mond
    Pro Comparison: Colin Kapernick
    I think Kellen Mond is very underrated. He does a lot of things well. There is nothing that immediately sticks out to you as his breakaway trait, which is the reason he is at 6. However, he has great potential as a backup, and if he can develop properly, there is a lot of potential to build off of. I think Mond has a hose for an arm as well, which is very underrated. Mond and Kapernick have similar builds and similar skill sets. If Mond lands in a spot where he can learn from a veteran and perfect his craft, there is legitimate upside to him as a prospect.

The New York Jets-New England Patriots rivalry hits new lows, yet has hope, on both sides

Seeking a win of any kind, the New York Jets can add to the New England Patriots’ woes or play an unwilling role in their redemption.

If you told New York Jets fans that their team would be only two and a half games behind the New England Patriots headed into a nationally televised Week 9 meeting, that would probably leave fans of the metropolitan green team with at least a sliver of hope. After all, New York fans have more or less grown accustomed to professional athletic dominance from the New England area over the last decade. If the Jets would be able to at least somewhat keep pace with the juggernaut from Gillette Stadium, that’d be enough to provide some warm feelings as the season grows colder.

Alas, it appears the Jets may finally be able to catch up to the Patriots…if only because New England has sunk with the face of its franchise absconding to Florida for a de facto early retirement.

The Jets’ ineptitude has perhaps taken the shine off the fall of the Patriots (2-5). It used to take two full years for New England to experience five losses. This time around, it took less than two months. Even the surefire staple of a win over the Buffalo Bills was denied to them in 2020, as the Patriots fell 24-21 to a team that held a 4-34 record against them since 2001. The Buffalo dilemma followed a 33-6 defeat to San Francisco…the worst loss the Patriots had ever suffered at Gillette Stadium since its 2002 opening. This active four-game losing streak even caused stoic head coach Bill Belichick to break character, remarking to former assistant Charlie Weis on SiriusXM NFL Radio that the Patriots had “sold out” in an attempt to immediately win more Super Bowls. New England’s four losses are the most consecutive defeats the team has suffered since Belichick’s debut year in 2000.

This comes while Tom Brady has resumed his status as an ageless wonder in Tampa Bay, to the tune of 20 touchdown passes (having thrown 24 over his final year in Foxboro) and a 103.5 passer rating. Several other familiar faces and contributors to the non-stop AFC East title-spewing machine (i.e. Julian Edelman and Stephon Gilmore) have missed time with injuries. But those in New England know that the way they’ve played during this streak is unacceptable no matter the circumstance.

“Losing is not acceptable in this locker room, in this county, in this state, in this area, in this region, so, Cameron Newton, you need to pick your (expletive) up,” Cam Newton, Brady’s successor, said after the San Francisco debacle, per Mark Daniels of The Providence Journal. “I understand that type of football play is unacceptable. I’m all about putting the football team in the best position to win. That’s what I have to do here moving forward.”

Much as they’d probably like to, the Jets (0-8) and their fans are in no position to laugh at and openly revel like the rest of the football world in New England’s demise. They continue to hunt for a mere single, though a close game would probably set off a parade down the Canyon of Heroes after enduring an average margin of defeat of three possessions over the first half of the season. The winless first half of the year was addressed by general manager Joe Douglas earlier this week. He immediately dismissed any idea of tanking and called the Patriots out by name in his statements, directly referencing the teams’ Monday night matchup (8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN) when asked about the idea of the Jets being better off with a loss.

“That’s not our thought process,” Douglas said. “We’re focused on the New England Patriots and we’re focused on getting better every day. As cliché as that sounds that’s, that we’re focused on.”

The Patriots’ struggles and the fact they’re traveling to MetLife Stadium on Monday have placed the Jets in a most unusual spot: even with no wins, they might just well be in a…trap game?

After all, if the Jets are going to eke out a win at some point, doing so against the cold Patriots might be the best chance left on their slate. With the exception of the Patriots and their first visit to SoFi Stadium to battle the Chargers in two weeks, each of the Jets’ remaining opponents are either in a current playoff spot or no more than a half-game out. Predictably, the players on the Jets’ current rosters are giving no credence to clinching the top draft pick. As the NFL’s only winless team, the Jets have the inside track for the top overall pick next spring. But doesn’t matter to the guys already dressed in green.

Starting quarterback Sam Darnold, 0-2 in his career against the Patriots, likely won’t play on Sunday due to a shoulder issue. But his words can serve as inspiration to he remaining teammates that will take the MetLife Stadium field on Sunday.

“Obviously everyone wants to win,” Darnold said, Dennis Waszak of the Associated Press. “That’s why we’re in this business. That’s why we’re professional football players. We got here by winning football games. For us, we’ve just got to put our heads down and go back to work. I feel like if we do that, we can win this game and worry about the next when it’s up.”

Darnold will likely be forced to give way to Joe Flacco, who knows at least a little something about getting the best of the Patriots. Though he’s 3-6 as a starter against New England, one of those wins came in the 2013 AFC title game, where he threw for three touchdowns in the Baltimore Ravens’ trek to Super Bowl XLVII.

But the true focus on the Jets’ young players, particularly on the offensive front. First-round choice Mekhi Becton will partake in the first of what’s envisioned to be many Jets-Patriots matchups. Fifth-round pick Bryce Hall will possibly taking on a bigger role in defense upon the release of Quincy Wilson. Denzel Mims has gotten off to a solid start after the second-round receiver was mostly forced to the bench with injuries.

Mims, chosen in the second round, is expected to be joined by Jamison Crowder and Breshad Perriman, each of whom have likewise missed time due to medical woes. Should they all partake in Monday’s game, it’ll mark the first time that the Jets have the the top receivers they envision having at the top of their depth chart at the start of the season.

“I think that’s really where we’ve got to make some strides there,” Gase said of his young receivers. “Just kind of like hearing the call and that picture pops in, you go to exactly where you need to go, you know the adjustments and you can play fast. And we’ve just got to keep working through all that stuff, that’s part of the growth process.”

Though the standings are a lost cause, to say the least, the Jets will have something major to play for on Monday, namely missing out on dubious franchise history. Should the Jets fall to New England, the 2020 edition would become the first team in franchise history to start 0-9. Even the one-win squad under Rich Kotite in 1996 avoided such a mark, doing so in Arizona in the ninth game.

On the other side, the Patriots aren’t so concerned about their recent dominance of the Jets as they are with getting back on track. New England still believes they can continue a postseason streak dating back to 2009, but any chance of continuing that hinges on a victory against the Jets. The Patriots currently sit two-and-a-half games behind Cleveland for the final AFC wild-card spot.

“I don’t think we’re a bad football team,” center David Andrews said, per Mark Daniels of Metro West Daily News. We don’t have a great record, but I don’t think we’re a bad football team.”

On the subject of winless teams, New England cornerback Jason McCourty has some prior knowledge. A former Cleveland Brown, McCourty was a part of the NFL’s last winless effort, the 2017 edition that joined the 2008 Lions in 0-for-16 infamy. Two early wins will help New England avert such a fate, but McCourty hopes that lessons learned during the harrowing 2017 campaign will help the his current compatriots get back on track.

“Don’t forget where you came from. I went through an 0-16 season and a 2-14 season and a 3-13 season. So, I’ve been through worse,” McCourty said in Daniels’ report. “You’re not going to change it by walking around here being negative or with your head down or declaring your season to be over. The only way you’re going to create change or get out of the situation you’re in, is to continue to work.”

“I think that if you’re negatively working, those are going to be the results you’re going to get. Something that’s often said around here is ‘turn the page’ and ‘On to whatever the next team is.’ For us right now, it’s the Jets. That’s our main focus. We can’t do anything about the loss to the Bills or the loss to the Niners.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

BREAKING: Jets have presumptive positive COVID test per Adam Schefter

New York Jets, Adam Gase

Navigating the Coronavirus Pandemic during this football season was never going to be an easy task. The NFL has now begun to see a spike in cases that is felt throughout the world. Yet,  the Tennessee Titans outbreak looks to be a little more contained as they had zero new positive cases. Along with the NFL seemingly getting a grip on the game schedule during a pandemic, the New York Jets have thrown a curveball into that premise.

Today, Adam Schefter has reported the New York Jets had a presumptive positive test.

What We Know

What is known is that the Jets had one of their routine tests come back positive today on One Jets Drive. Thus, all players and coaches were sent home, and the player who tested positive is awaiting the results of their retest, per Rich Cimini. The Arizona Cardinals were slated to fly out today for this Sunday’s contest, and that game now hinges on the results of this test. This positive test is considered presumptive as there have been false positives in the last week or so.

Still, the organization must act out of an abundance of caution to prevent a continued spread. One scenario that could come into play is reminiscent of this past Monday’s game between the Patriots and Chiefs. Despite a positive test, the Patriots kept the virus contained between Cam Newton and now All-Pro Corner Stephon Gilmore, and the team were still able to play their scheduled game.

Long Term Outlook

The Jets must now act with the same sense of fluidity that the entire league and country, for that matter, has operated under in order to prevent a larger spread. The players and coaches need to continue to take responsibility in order to finish the season. With that said, if cases continue to become more widespread nationally, the league may have to consider a bubble setup to finish out the season and the playoffs safely.

Hopefully, the Jets get everything in order within the organization, because no matter how critical you are of the team, I wish them nothing but the best in their health and potential COVID-19 recovery.

Cam Newton and the Patriots: How it affects the New York Jets

Taking down the New England Patriots was always going to be a chore for the New York Jets. How does Cam Newton affect those plans?

For the New York Jets, the evil emitting from Foxboro never vanished…it simply evolved.

The autumn of Jarrett Stidham has instead given way to the summer of Cam Newton, as the eternal defending AFC East champion New England Patriots added the former NFL MVP to their roster on Sunday. Newton’s departure from Charlotte has now given rise to renewed hope for the Patriots, who are, of course, looking to replace the Tampa-bound Tom Brady. 

Of course, every New England matter, especially one this major in this period of transition, has ripple effects throughout the east coast, particularly in the New York area, where the Patriots’ green rivals reside. How does Newton’s northeast arrival affect the metropolitan area? ESM investigates…

An Elite Pass Rush Is More Important Than Ever

The halls of One Jets Drive and the Sunday parking lots of MetLife Stadium are graced with the likenesses of New York backfield invaders of yesteryear. Lately, however, the modern Jets haven’t been making Mark Gastineau, Shaun Ellis, John Abraham, Mo Lewis, and company proud with their sack exploits.

Since 2016, the Jets rank 29th in the NFL in sacks and have been haunted by rushing quarterbacks. In that span, only three Jets (Jordan Jenkins, Jamal Adams, Leonard Williams) have accumulated at least 10 quarterback takedowns. It has been enough of a challenge facing off against Josh Allen twice a year, for example, (the Buffalo Bills are 11-3 when Allen scores at least one rushing touchdown) and now they must deal with another multi-faceted threat in Newton, who brings a sense of mobility that Brady never had.

As has been the case with many running quarterbacks, Newton can be neutralized with a relentless rush. Carolina was 3-11 when Newton was sacked at least five times, which includes the merciless onslaught he saw from Von Miller and the Broncos in Super Bowl 50. Rare as it was, Brady (who has been sacked 5+ times on only 10 occasions in a nearly two-decade career) wasn’t immune from pressure-induced yips. Both the Jets and Giants played the trope to perfection in their respective victories in the 2011 AFC divisional playoffs and the Super Bowl XLII. To cap it off, New England’s new quarterback, be it Newton, Stidham, or otherwise, is walking into a decent situation on the offensive line regardless. The Patriots have built a solid foundation in front of their thrower. Marcus Cannon and Shaq Mason bring a combined dozen years of experience to the right side, while All-Pro left man Joe Thuney was franchise tagged. In contrast, it’s very possible Sam Darnold could start Week 1 without a single starting blocker leftover from his rookie season in 2018.

Blocking exploits were understandably the Jets’ top priority on the free agent wire this offseason but they addressed the rush with the very affordable re-signing of Jenkins (1-year, $3.75 million) and will also welcome back fellow linebackers C.J. Mosley and Blake Cashman from injury. Another offseason addition was Baltimore transplant Patrick Onwuasor, who is set to bolster the interior pass rush, as was third-round draft pick Jabari Zuniga, who continues New York’s youth revolution on the offensive line (joining second-year men Quinnen Williams and Kyle Phillips). Battling Brady was bad enough, but if Newton recaptures the electrifying brand of multi-talented football that made him a superstar, the Jets’ New England nightmare could be extended by another year and possibly beyond.

New York Giants, Bill Belichick
Jan 4, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches the game against the Tennessee Titans during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

There’s Definitely a Chance to Instill Major Worry in the Patriots

In the grand scheme of things, how much does Newton truly change the Patriots? As we mentioned after Brady’s departure in March, they still had a strong supporting cast to surround whatever poor soul had the unenviable position of walking in Tom Brady’s footsteps. There’s a strong rushing attack left behind in the form of Sony Michel and James White. Even when Brady was starting to show signs of age last season, the defense assured that things remained one-sided (the Jets found this out the hard way in a 33-0 Monday night shellacking last fall that saw Brady post a pedestrian 80.7 passer rating). Newton or no Newton, counting the Patriots before a single 2020 game was played was foolhardy at best.

Still, it’s fair to say there’s lingering doubt in the New England camp if and when the 2020 campaign commences.

While he’s undoubtedly an upgrade over Stidham, there’s no denying that Newton isn’t at the form we saw in his 2015 MVP season. Things probably never should’ve reached “is Kyle Allen a franchise QB” levels in Carolina, but time will tell if Newton can regain his game-changing form.

Every team in the NFL should have an unwritten rule that dictates that they should have a quarterback on their roster that they see as their start in three years. Stidham was a major question mark, but Newton’s impressive resume can at least put the Patriots in a more comfortable spot. The 2020 season is almost one of no consequence to the Patriots. They’re still relatively decent on paper, they’ve accomplished more in the last two decades than some franchises earn in their entire existence, and expectations are lowered with the emerging powerhouse developing in Kansas City. A Cam Newton with nothing to lose, especially one blessed with relative youth at 31, could spell doom for anyone looking to take New England’s crown of NFL dominance.

Having said that, this makes the Jets’ 2020 matchups with New England all the more crucial. Wins must come to knock New England off their perch. Strong performances can not only give the Patriots second thoughts about their current plan of turning over the future Newton or the unproven day-three pick whose NFL impact to date is an Adams pick-six. Any doubt the Jets can plant into the brains of a team that viewed their AFC East slate, including the yearly visit to East Rutherford, as a Sunday drive is good doubt from a metropolitan standpoint.

The Outlook

In the grand scheme of the things, the Jets’ task of a divisional coup doesn’t change drastically because of Newton. That’s not a slight on Newton at all; even if he’s not at 2015 levels, his signing was long overdue and if he’s going to get his career back on track, New England is perhaps the best place to do it.

Looking at the New England dynasty from a wider perspective, the Patriots have been able to be a continuous force in the NFL because they take care of business against divisional foes and reinforcements rising to take the place of a fallen comrade. Newton undoubtedly makes the task of rising up a bit harder, but the Jets’ primary concerns should rely on shutting down Newton’s support staff, one that has already dealt with years of Bill Belichick training.

The best move New York can make when it comes to Newton is upping their pressure and making him as uncomfortable as possible, creating feelings that can leave both an immediate and long-term impact on New England moving forward. Should all go according to NFL plan, the Jets will get those opportunities on November 9 and January 3.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

 

New England Patriots Sign QB Cam Newton

The New England Patriots have signed former NFL MVP quarterback Cam Newton, per Adam Schefter. Newton and the Patriots agreed to a one-year, incentive-laden deal worth up to $7.5 million. According to Ian Rapoport, this deal “has been in the works.”

Cam Newton is 31 years old and ready for a new beginning. The former first-overall draft pick spent the last nine years as a member of the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers released Newton in March after he missed the majority of the 2019 NFL season with a shoulder injury.

Cam Newton acknowledged the news on his Instagram Story Sunday night:

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For the New England Patriots, this signing is a huge victory. If Cam Newton returns to form in 2020, the Patriots could once again make the playoffs, despite the departure of all-time great quarterback Tom Brady this offseason. Cam Newton was playing at a high level prior to his injury in 2018. If the former Panthers quarterback is fully healthy in 2020, Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels will look to continue their dominance over the AFC East.

However, Cam Newton might not be a long-term solution for the Patriots at quarterback. If Newton plays well in 2020 and leaves New England in the 2021 free agency period, the Patriots could get back a compensatory 2022 third-round pick. This is even more crucial now that the Patriots’ 2021 third-round pick has been stripped away as punishment for the team’s videotape violation. But at only 31 years old, there is always a chance Cam Newton earns a second, long-term contract with the team next offseason.