BOSTON (CBS) — Sunday’s Patriots-Jets clash will be the start of a new chapter in the AFC East rivalry. Both teams have turned things over to a fresh-faced rookie quarterback, ushering in a new era for both franchises.
That is something that has happened quite a bit in New York over the last 20 years. From Sam Darnold to Geno Smith to Mark Sanchez (with a little Fitzmagic sprinkled in), the Jets have been searching for their franchise QB since the days of Chad Pennington came to an end. The Patriots, of course, had Tom Brady leading them to Super Bowl titles for the last 20 years, leading to victory after victory after victory over the Jets.READ MORE: NFL Films Microphones Catch CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys Celebrating Win Over Patriots
Now New York is turning to No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson, with the Patriots handing the franchise to Mac Jones. This is the first time that both the Patriots and the Jets used a first-round pick on a quarterback in the same year since 1983, when New England took Tony Eason with the 15th pick (the same slot that Jones was drafted in April) and the Jets selected Ken O’Brien with the 24th overall pick.
Neither were the stud quarterback the teams were hoping for that year, and those picks sting quite a bit when you see that Dan Marino was drafted at No. 27. But that was a long time ago, and now we’re focusing on a what could be a new QB rivalry for years to come. Wilson and Jones will be connected for years to come as they each look to lead their respective teams to NFL glory.
There are high hopes that Wilson can buck New York’s abysmal track record at quarterback and actually stick around for a decade. He may even win some games for the team. He had an up and down debut last weekend against the Panthers, though he did fairly well for a young quarterback who was heavily assaulted all game. Wilson was sacked six times by the Panthers and hit a total of 10 times. He was under constant pressure, which led to the 22-year-old throwing a pick and fumbling the ball (the Jets recovered). If the Panthers were able to get to Wilson that much, imagine what New England’s much improved pass rush will be able to do against an injury plagued Jets offensive line this weekend.
But Wilson looked much better in the second half of New York’s 19-14 loss, throwing a pair of second-half touchdowns to make the game somewhat interesting. It’s just one game, but the kid appears to have what it takes — just as long as the Jets don’t ruin him over the next three years.
Jones also played well in his pro debut despite being under constant pressure from the Miami Dolphins. He settled for mostly short check downs in New England’s 17-16 loss, but had the team in a position to win before Damien Harris fumbled it away at the Miami 9-yard line with just over three minutes remaining. Jones looked comfortable going through his reads against a blitz-happy Dolphins team, and he’ll be under pressure again this weekend against a Jets team like blitzed roughly 50 percent of the time against Carolina last weekend.READ MORE: Stephon Gilmore Set To Begin Practicing With Panthers This Week
Both young passers are eager to get their first taste of the famous Patriots-Jets rivalry, and see what their quarterback counterpart has to offer.
“He’s a cool dude,” Wilson said of Jones. “We ran into each other at the combine stuff a little bit, and then some at the draft night. I was excited for him and his opportunity, it’s super cool.
“That’s the cool thing about being in this spot, it’s not like me and him are really competing for a spot. I got to go to my team, and he got to go to his,” Wilson added, pointing out that the AFC East now belongs to four young quarterbacks in himself, Jones, Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa and Buffalo’s Josh Allen.
“He’s a great player,” Jones said of Wilson. “Makes a lot of really cool and different plays. He’s a really good quarterback.”
While things have changed quite a bit under center for both teams, the Patriots hope to keep two decades worth of success against the Jets rolling on Sunday. New England is 33-11 against their AFC East rival since 2000, winning 10 straight over the Jets, with only three of those tilts decided by seven points or fewer. Most of them have been laughers in New England’s favor.
But all but two of those wins came with Tom Brady at quarterback for the Patriots. We’re used to seeing a different quarterback at the helm for the Jets, but this time around, both teams are relying on young passers to lead the way to a victory.MORE NEWS: Dak Prescott Believes Mac Jones Will Be 'A Good Quarterback For A Long Time'
Tune in to Patriots-Jets on WBZ-TV — the flagship home of the New England Patriots. Catch Patriots All Access on Friday at 7pm on WBZ. We kick things off Sunday morning at 11:30am with Patriots GameDay, the Pats and the Jets will square off at 1pm, and after the game switch over to TV38 for full reaction and analysis on Patriots 5th Quarter!