Who Ya Got Wednesday: New York Jets vs. New England Patriots

Reeling from several injuries from their opener, the road ahead gets no easier for the New York Jets, who face an angry Patriots squad.

  • What: New England Patriots (0-1) at New York Jets (0-1)
  • Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ
  • When: Sunday at 1 p.m. ET
  • Watch: CBS
 (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Geoff Magliocchetti

If one were scripting the Robert Saleh era for the big screen, the subplot of his Jets opening up their MetLife Stadium slate and harkening the return of fans against the hated Patriots would likely be rejected for its lack of subtlety. Nonetheless, it’s what the powers-that-be at the NFL asked for.

There would be no better way to welcome supporters back and kick off the Saleh era on the right note than ending several dubious streaks against New England. The Patriots haven’t lost at MetLife Stadium since 2015. Their last regulation loss on Route 3 came in MetLife’s current parking lot, then known as Giants Stadium, in 2009. Overall, the Patriots have won ten straight against the Jets. Even New England’s struggles in year one A.B. (After Brady) weren’t enough for the Jets to steal a victory, though they needed every inch of clock to win the November showing in the Garden State.

One of the attainable goals for the modern Gang Green should be to earn a showcase victory or two, a throat-clearing gesture that would warn the football world that this isn’t your father’s Jets, your older brother’s Jets…heck, your twin brother’s Jets. Finally flipping the script on this one-sided rivalry would certainly be one way to do that, especially with green fans walking through MetLife’s turnstiles for a meaningful game for the first time since December 2019.

But circumstances aren’t tilted in the Jets’ favor: the 2021 NFL season is only a week old, but the Jets have suffered at least a month’s worth of medically-induced calamities, one that that has turned their injury ledger into the top of a depth chart. Everyone knew that Carl Lawson and Jarrad Davis wouldn’t be ready to go for the return to East Rutherford but the kickoff contest in Carolina erased Mekhi Becton, Lamarcus Joyner, and Blake Cashman, each of whom landed on injured reserve. Another fallen starter, linebacker Jamien Sherwood, avoided major catastrophe, but will still miss New England’s visit.

The makeshift Jets deserve a lot of credit for what happened in Carolina, particularly in a second half won by a 14-3 margin. Alas, in what’s set to become a recurring theme in 2021, many of the green victories won’t be seen on the scoreboard. Asking this ragtag group, one that has already had to seek sizable help from abroad, to not only exorcise some bad Boston-based juju but to conquer a Bill Belichick-led team that’s no doubt still peeved over dropping a winnable divisional contest is too much at this point.

Patriots 24, Jets 17

zach wilson, jets

Brendan Carpenter

The Jets’ future fell just short to their past Sunday, as Sam Darnold and the Panthers came away victorious in a 19-14 final. While they didn’t get the win, there are some positives to be taken away regarding the offense that should have them excited for the home opener against the Patriots this weekend.

For starters, Zach Wilson looked poised, collected, and exciting. He made those eye-popping throws that fans rave about, most notably ones that were caught by Corey Davis for a touchdown and a potential deep-gain that was dropped by Elijah Moore. The downside of seeing him make those throws? They almost all came after horrible blocking and breakdowns by the offensive line.

The offensive line needs to hold up better against New England, a task made all the more difficult now that Mekhi Becton is out. The offensive line should play better throughout, though, and won’t be the deciding factor: that burden instead falls to the defense.

The young secondary played well in Week 1 and the Patriots’ receivers aren’t as lethal as they were in years past, so that should be encouraging. However, the Jets are going to have to bring more pressure against Mac Jones and make him uncomfortable because if they don’t, he’ll dissect the defense. If that happens, game over.

The biggest thing the Jets’ defense has to do, though, is what they didn’t do against Carolina: they allowed 93 receiving yards to Panther running backs (namely Christian McCaffrey). The Patriots have James White, who had six catches in Week 1’s loss to Miami. Linebackers will need to make watching the running backs, even during passing plays, a priority.

The Jets will have their work cut out for them against a team that has, putting it nicely, had their number for the last decade-plus. With defensive injuries to linebackers Blake Cashman and Jamien Sherwood and safety Lamarcus Joyner, they’re thin. The offense will play better but the defense will seemingly have some difficulty.

Patriots 27, Jets 21

 (Photo By Streeter Lecka)

Dylan Price

The Jets dropped Sunday’s opener to the Panthers in a 19-14 outing. Gang Green came out of the gates with a first half that could be described as abysmal at best. Blockers failed to protect Zach Wilson, who had little to no time in the pocket. The defense was worn out as the Panthers controlled the time of possession throughout the first half.

In the second half, though, we saw a different team. The offensive line still struggled, but the team finished the game with momentum. Heading into Sunday, the Jets’ two largest challenges will be the offensive line and containing tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. The Jets’ defense should have a chance to capitalize on the inexperienced Mac Jones, especially if the secondary can replicate Sunday’s second half performance. Ultimately, I foresee a tight game that ends with the Patriots narrowly etching out the win.

Patriots 20, Jets 17

Best of the Rest

Magliocchetti Carpenter Price
NY Giants @ Washington (Thu.) Giants Football Team Football Team
Buffalo @ Miami Bills Bills Bills
Cincinnati @ Chicago Bears Bengals Bengals
Denver @ Jacksonville Broncos Broncos Broncos
Houston @ Cleveland Browns Browns Browns
Las Vegas @ Pittsburgh Steelers Raiders Raiders
LA Rams @ Indianapolis Rams Rams Rams
New Orleans @ Carolina Saints Saints Saints
San Francisco @ Philadelphia 49ers 49ers 49ers
Atlanta @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers Buccaneers Buccaneers
Minnesota @ Arizona Cardinals Cardinals Cardinals
Dallas @ LA Chargers Cowboys Cowboys Chargers
Tennessee @ Seattle Titans Seahawks Seahawks
Kansas City @ Baltimore Ravens Chiefs Chiefs
Detroit @ Green Bay (Mon.) Packers Packers Lions
Last Week 7-9 7-9 6-10

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Two bold free-agency predictions

New York Jets, Hunter Henry

The New York Jets need help. They have a new coaching staff, which should help, but they need talent. Regardless of what happens at quarterback, because that decision is far from over, weapons have to be around whoever that is.

The Jets are reportedly interested in JuJu Smith-Schuster and Will Fuller V, but those wouldn’t necessarily be bold predictions. For one, Smith-Schuster going to the team seems to be a common one. However, there are some players who, even though they have a good chance of returning to where they played last season, could come over to play at Metlife Stadium.

With more than $62-million in cap space, the team can certainly make a splash. Here are two bold predictions for the use of that cap space:

WR Allen Robinson II

Robinson is going to be the most coveted number-one receiver in free agency. This past season, with an underwhelming quarterbacking tandem of Nick Foles and Mitchell Trubisky, he posted 102 receptions for 1,250 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Robinson can do it all on the field. At 6-foot-2, 216 pounds, he certainly isn’t small. He can use his size and strength to win the tough catches and shield the ball from defenders. He’s a solid route runner and is smart after the catch. Along with his on-field skills, he’s someone that Denzel Mims can learn a lot from.

Also, at only 27 years old, he is still very well in his prime. He’s going to get offers – and a lot of them. However, the Jets can offer him the most appealing amount of money. I say “appealing” because only the Jaguars have more cap space, but I don’t see any scenario with him returning to Jacksonville.

So, the New York Jets will sign Allen Robinson II to a four-year, roughly $84-million deal.

TE Hunter Henry

Although they have Ryan Griffin and Chris Herndon on the roster, neither is the solidified option at tight end. Hunter Henry is proven to be a reliable and capable player at the position. Last season with the Chargers and rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, he totaled 60 receptions for 613 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Henry quickly became a favorite target for Herbert, and rightfully so. He’s explosive and consistently finds a way to be open. Also, he’s well-rounded – meaning he can catch and block effectively. Sam Darnold, or whoever is the quarterback, could desperately need that assistance. He’d be vital for anyone, especially if they draft a quarterback.

There’s a real good chance, however, that the Chargers franchise tag Henry again. If they do, he’ll be locked up. If not, he could walk. Recently, the latter seems increasingly likely. According to Sports Illustrated, the Chargers have joined the conversation in trading for Eagles tight end Zach Ertz. He could be the replacement in Los Angeles that allows Henry to come to Gang Green.

In this scenario, that trade happens. The New York Jets then sign Hunter Henry to a four-year, $48-million deal.

These bold signings would instantly bolster the Jets’ offense.

 

Should the New York Giants consider trading Evan Engram?

New York Giants, Giants, Evan Engram

The New York Giants did not have many players selected to the Pro Bowl in 2020. One Giants player who was selected to the Pro Bowl, though, was a very controversial selection. The Giants’ offense was putrid this season, averaging only 17.5 points per game. But one player on their offense must have stood out to Pro Bowl voters.

New York Giants tight end Evan Engram was selected to his first career Pro Bowl in 2020 to the surprise of all Giants fans. Most fans felt Engram endured a down season this year, arguably the worst season of his career. Engram posted a career-low in touchdowns this season, reaching the end zone just twice. He also recorded a staggering 11 drops on the year, pulling frustration from Giants fans all season long.

Many fans thought Green Bay Packers tight end Robert Tonyan was far more deserving of a Pro Bowl selection after scoring 11 touchdowns, but he was snubbed in place of Evan Engram. Engram is still a young, talented player for the Giants. However, he is entering a contract year and has yet to meet the expectations set out for him after his incredible 2017 rookie season. Now, before New York has to pay Evan in 2022 potentially, the Giants need to decide whether or not they want Evan Engram to be a part of the team’s long-term future.

Should the Giants trade Evan Engram?

Despite his frustrating, drop-filled season, Evan Engram was arguably the most explosive and talented playmaker on the Giants’ offense last season, with Saquon Barkley on injured reserve. Engram still managed to rack up 654 receiving yards in 2020, despite leaving plenty of yards dropped onto the field.

Evan Engram is a talented player who cannot seem to get out of his own way. Maybe a change of scenery is what is best for him. But should the Giants really consider trading their starting tight end?

Replacement on the roster?

The Giants would be thin at the tight end position if they traded Evan Engram. Behind Evan is Kaden Smith and Levine Toilolo. Kaden Smith is a young tight end with decent run-blocking capabilities but is not likely to emerge as a starting-level receiving talent. Toilolo is a pure run-blocker from the tight end position and is in danger of being a cap casualty this offseason.

Drafting a tight end

The Giants do have options to replace Evan Engram if they decide to trade him. One popular name connected to the Giants this offseason if draft prospect Kyle Pitts from the University of Florida. Pitts is a phenomenal tight end prospect that will likely be drafted in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Kyle Pitts totaled 43 receptions for 770 yards and an insane 12 touchdowns in only 8 games in 2020.

The Giants might not want to spend their coveted eleventh overall draft pick on a tight end, though, with much more pressing needs on their roster. New York is in need of a wide receiver and could target one with that pick or use the pick to improve their defense. But maybe the Giants could trade Evan Engram for a high-to-mid-round draft pick and replace him in free agency.

Finding a tight end in free agency

There are a few veteran options that the Giants could consider at tight end in free agency. In his twelfth career season, Jared Cook managed to rack up 504 yards and 7 touchdowns on 37 receptions in 2020. Cook has been one of the NFL’s best tight ends over his entire career and went to back to back Pro Bowls in 2018 and 2019. Despite thirty-three years old, Jared Cook is still playing some of his best football and could provide plenty of value to the Giants on a one-year deal.

Gerald Everett is a bit of a younger and likely pricier option for the Giants in free agency. The twenty-seven-year-old tight end has been with the Los Angeles Rams since his career began in 2017. Everett has been playing a complementary role, playing alongside Tyler Higbee with the Rams. The Rams run a lot of twelve-personnel, though, and Everett has made the most of his snaps. In 2020, Gerald posted a career-high 417 yards on 41 receptions. One red flag on Everett, though, is his six drops this past season. This could have been an anomaly, though, as he posted zero drops in both 2018 and 2019. Maybe a change of scenery could propel Everett into a legitimate starter.

One last high-end, long-shot option the Giants could take a look at in free agency is Hunter Henry. Henry is a twenty-seven-year-old tight end that has dealt with extensive injuries throughout his career. But when Henry is healthy, he performs as one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Henry has played 26 games in the past two seasons. Through those 26 games, Hunter has racked up 9 touchdowns and 1,265 receiving yards.

Hunter Henry is likely to be retained by the Los Angeles Chargers as they try to build around quarterback Justin Herbert. However, if he does hit the open market, Henry will be a highly-coveted free agent and could be a perfect fit for the Giants if they move on from Evan Engram.