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Robert Saleh and Zach Wilson will get their first taste of the Jets-Patriots rivalry early in their New York careers.
The Jets will host the Patriots in their home opener in Week 2. There is a lot of history between these two teams, but this matchup feels a little bit different with so many new faces.
Both teams are coming off losses and feature first-round rookie quarterbacks under center. Sunday’s game between Wilson and Mac Jones kickstarts a saga that could last for years if both pan out. Wilson and Jones opened their NFL careers with solid debuts, but neither has notched a win, yet. That changes this week.
Before they square off, here are four things to know about the Jets’ Week 2 matchup with the Patriots.
Bama vs. Bama
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Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams will go toe-to-toe with two former Alabama teammates. Mac Jones and running back Damien Harris played with Williams in 2018. Jones was a true freshman backup behind Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts, but Williams remembers him fondly. “Man, Mac Jones is my brother from ’Bama,’’ Williams said Monday. “He's an amazing quarterback. Amazing person in general. I got to see him grow from a true freshman coming into what he is now." Williams added he wasn't surprised to see Jones win New England's starting job. "Mac is a competitor," Williams continued. "You’ve got to remember, he had to sit behind Tua and Jalen. He had to go through a lot of stuff to get where he's at. He had to work hard.’’
Rookies under center
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The Week 2 matchup between Jones and Wilson will be the first time in the Patriots-Jets rivalry that two rookie quarterbacks will start opposite each other. The Jets have played plenty of rookies against the Patriots over the years, but the last time the Patriots started one against the Jets was Drew Bledsoe in 1993.
Belichick great against rookies
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Bill Belichick is 21-6 against first-year passers since becoming the Patriots' head coach in 2000. However, all six of Belichick's losses were on the road, which helps Wilson in his debut against New England. The Jets face the Patriots in the friendly confines of MetLife Stadium, though Gang Green hasn't beaten Belichick since 2015. Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith were two of the six rookies to beat Belichick.
Vulnerable pass defense
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The Patriots' pass defense isn't as daunting as usual. They're still without shutdown cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who opened the year on the physically unable to perform list with a quad injury. While the defense didn't give up a ton of yards to the Dolphins in Week 1, Jaylen Waddle and DeVante Parker exploited matchups to combine for eight receptions, 122 yards and a touchdown. The Jets will have all of their wideouts in this contest, which could mean big numbers for New York's passing attack.