Zach Wilson, NY Jets, Patriots, Podcast, Breakdown, Game
Zach Wilson, New York Jets, Getty Images

New York Jets QB Zach Wilson is preparing for a turning-point challenge against the rival Patriots

All eyes are on Zach Wilson.

That has been the case in every single game played by the New York Jets quarterback since the BYU product arrived on the NFL scene, dating back to last year’s season opener in Charlotte. And it always will be, however long he wears green and white (and black).

But one could argue that none of Wilson’s previous games played a greater role in writing his story than this next one will.

For many reasons, Sunday’s battle against the New England Patriots is a pivotal game for Wilson.

Firstly, this game will be the 18th game of Wilson’s career, meaning it kicks off his quasi-second season as a starting quarterback (if you measure it based on his number of career starts). He is no longer a rookie in any way, shape, or form.

Wilson’s 18th start comes at a crossroads of New York’s 2022 season. The Jets are flying high with four straight wins, boasting a 5-2 record that ties them for second-best in the AFC. However, after losing two of their best players to season-ending injuries – RB Breece Hall and OL Alijah Vera-Tucker – the road ahead just became much more difficult.

The Jets will likely have to win games in a different fashion than they have been. Relying on the run game will not be as easy, which means the Jets will have to lean more on Wilson’s arm. Can Wilson give the Jets the spark they need to recover from the losses of Hall and Vera-Tucker?

Finally, this game comes against the opponent that caused Wilson his worst nightmares as a rookie. In his home debut as a Jet, Wilson tossed four interceptions against Bill Belichick’s aggressive Patriots defense. Five weeks later, Wilson suffered a knee injury in New England that would hold him out of the next four games. The Jets proceeded to lose that game by 41 points.

You could hardly script it any better. To begin his official Year 2 as a starting quarterback, Wilson must face a hated division rival that dominated him (and the entire team) last year, at a time where the team needs him more than ever after losing two of its best players. Plus, he is under intense scrutiny after two poor games that have left many people doubting him.

All of this with the pressure of maintaining a four-game winning streak in front of a MetLife Stadium crowd that could be one of the loudest during the team’s 13-season history in the building.

This one game will not define Wilson’s career, no matter how good or bad it is, but you can’t deny this: A breakout game in this scenario would shoot Wilson’s stock to the moon.

We break down how Wilson can succeed against the Patriots’ defense on the latest episode of the Cool Your Jets podcast, taking an in-depth look at New England’s defensive tendencies and how Wilson must adjust his game to exploit those tendencies.

Audio Version available to members only: Learn more here

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Michael Nania is one of the best analytical New York Jets minds in the world, combining his statistical expertise with game film to add proper context to the data. Nania scrapes every corner, ensuring you know all there is to know about everyone from the QB to the long snapper. Nania's Numbers, Nania's QB Grades, and Nania's All-22 give fans a deeper and more well-rounded dive into the Jets than anyone else can offer. Email: michael.nania[at]jetsxfactor.com - Twitter: @Michael_Nania
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Allison Scott
Allison Scott
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