Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, NY Jets, New England Patriots
Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, NY Jets, New England Patriots, Getty Images, Jet X Graphic

New York Jets QB Zach Wilson is looking forward to the first matchup vs. New England Patriots

Zach Wilson and Bill Belichick’s turn-of-the-century dynasties more or less grew up together: The New York Jets quarterback was a mere 18 months old when the New England Patriots shocked the world in the 36th Super Bowl.

The infant Wilson more than likely had no idea that he would be called upon to put an end to Belichick’s mastery. To put things in perspective, 22 Super Bowls have been staged since Wilson was born in August 1999. New England has partaken in nine of them.

“I feel like ever since I was a little kid and can remember watching Super Bowls, the Patriots have been a part of it,” Wilson said on Thursday. “It’s crazy because I almost feel like every year, looking back, it’s like them in the Super Bowl, right? It’s like they all start mushing together, you can’t even remember which one is which and all that.

“You think the New England Patriots your whole life and my whole life, how many Super Bowls they’ve won, and how many I’ve seen them in,” Wilson continued. “The team is a little bit different now without Tom (Brady) there, but Bill Belichick is still there and that dude is one of the best coaches around. The scheme and the way he gets those guys to play hard and the rules he gives them, it’s tough, he does a good job. So, it’s going to be a good challenge for us.”

With Brady defending another Super Bowl abroad, New England’s AFC East dynasty is over. The 2020-21 postseason was the first without their name on the bracket since 2008-09. In spite of its lost season, however, New England managed to keep one victorious streak alive: its string of consecutive victories against the Jets. The Patriots have won 10 in a row against Gang Green, including last year’s annual pair.

New York’s next opportunity arrives on a monumental occasion. The Patriots (0-1) will face off against the Jets (0-1) at MetLife Stadium on Sunday afternoon (1 p.m. ET, CBS), a game that will mark Wilson’s first start in East Rutherford. It will also be the Jets’ first regular-season home game held in front of paying customers since Dec. 2019.

The Zach Wilson-Mac Jones rivalry begins

Sunday’s matchup commences a new chapter in the Jets-Patriots rivalry that dates back to 1960, an entry that introduces new protagonists Wilson and Mac Jones. Each first-round choice from April’s draft proceedings made his first NFL start last week and was dealt a narrow defeat. Wilson’s comeback effort fell just short in Charlotte while Jones endured a one-point loss at the hands of the Miami Dolphins.

The second overall pick, chosen 13 picks ahead of Jones, referred to the Alabama alum as a “cool dude.”

“I was excited for him and his opportunity, super cool,” Wilson said of Jones, whom he met at the Scouting Combine and Draft. “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. So, all those quarterbacks in the draft, you really hope the best for them.”

Despite the aura and mystique surrounding New England, Wilson was sure not to put the Patriots on a pedestal, even if they’ve had the Jets number since Brady first entered the national football conversation on a fateful September Sunday against the Jets in 2001.

He said that beating the Patriots in his Garden State debut would be exciting “to an extent”, but the win won’t be more valuable for the mere prescience of a Flying Elvis on the opponent’s helmet.

“A win in this league is so valuable, and they’re hard to come by and teams are good,” Wilson said. “I’ve already started to realize that record doesn’t matter, if a team is 0-14 or undefeated it does not matter, this is the NFL and everyone’s going to be good and so, I think it’s just cherishing that those wins are important. This week it’s kind of the same thing, I think it’s a big win for us if we get there.”

Since Belichick took over as New England’s head coach in 2000, rookie starting quarterbacks are 6-25 against the Patriots. All six of those wins occurred while playing New England at home, while none occurred in Massachusetts.

Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa helped end an 11-game losing streak (a ledger that featured wins over Derek Carr, Deshaun Watson, Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, and Justin Herbert) for freshman Belichick opponents thanks to two rushing touchdowns in a 22-12 win last December.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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Geoff Magliocchetti is a veteran football writer with years of credentialed experience with the Jets and Giants. Email:
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