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5 must-see 1v1 rematches on NY Jets’ 2024 schedule

Stefon Diggs, Sauce Gardner, NY Jets, Texans
Stefon Diggs, Sauce Gardner, New York Jets, Getty Images

Get your tickets to these heavyweight bouts

While it’s always fun to discuss the most interesting team-versus-team matchups on an NFL schedule, it’s also fascinating to think about the potential player-versus-player matchups that fans will be treated to.

Looking at the New York Jets’ 2024 schedule, here are some of the most intriguing one-on-one rematches, featuring two players who will meet again after having intense battles in the past.

Jets CB Sauce Gardner vs. Texans WR Stefon Diggs

Since drafting Sauce Gardner in 2022, the Jets have done a nice job holding Stefon Diggs in check. Across four games against the Jets from 2022-23, Diggs averaged 5.5 catches for 62.8 yards and 0.25 touchdowns, a noticeable dip from his averages of 6.7/81.4/0.62 in 29 non-Jets games during that span.

Gardner’s individual results against Diggs are mostly good, although Diggs has gotten Gardner a few times. On the positive side, Buffalo hardly challenged Gardner with Diggs. While Gardner did not shadow Diggs on every play, it’s still impressive that Diggs saw only six targets against Gardner’s coverage across the four games. However, four of those passes were completed for 75 yards and four first downs, with one of the two incompletions being a drop by Diggs.

There are some excellent reps on tape that show Gardner locking down Diggs to prevent him from being targeted. However, Diggs beat him for a handful of big plays.

These two will do battle once more in 2024, this time with C.J. Stroud throwing the football instead of Josh Allen. Gardner was dominant the last time he faced Stroud at MetLife Stadium, allowing 2-of-6 passing for 11 yards on throws in his direction while adding two pass breakups. With Stroud now having a year of experience under his belt, the Texans’ franchise quarterback will be seeking to even the score against Sauce – with some help from his shiny new toy from Buffalo.

Jets LG John Simpson vs. 49ers DT Javon Hargrave

A two-time Pro Bowler, Javon Hargrave is one of the best pass rushing defensive tackles in the NFL. Over the past three seasons, he’s racked up 25.5 sacks and 170 total pressures. This past season, Hargrave ranked 12th among defensive tackles with 52 total pressures.

None of this mattered to Ravens left guard John Simpson when Baltimore traveled to San Francisco for the marquee matchup of the 2023 regular season. With many of his reps coming against Hargrave, Simpson allowed just one pressure on 44 pass-blocking snaps in a 33-19 Ravens win. His performance was one of the main reasons Lamar Jackson was pressured on just 28% of his dropbacks against arguably the best defensive front in the NFL.

Simpson continuously stymied Hargrave’s bull rushes, and whenever Hargrave tried to set up a stunt, Simpson shut those down, too.

Hargrave won’t have to wait long for a rematch, as the Jets and 49ers will clash in Week 1 on Monday Night Football. For a Jets team whose main priority is preventing hits on Aaron Rodgers, drawing the 49ers in Week 1 is mildly terrifying, but it’s comforting to know that one of their starting linemen had a great outing the last time he faced San Francisco’s elite defensive front, especially since he did it at Levi’s Stadium.

Jets CB D.J. Reed vs. Dolphins WR Jaylen Waddle

D.J. Reed had a phenomenal 2023 season – except against the Dolphins.

Reed’s two highest yardage totals of the season came against Miami, yielding 102 yards in Week 15 and 87 in Week 12. Outside of those two games, he allowed only 22.0 yards per game with a high of 58. For the entire season, 40% of the yards allowed by Reed came against Miami.

His main Dolphins nemesis: Jaylen Waddle. Against Reed, Waddle caught 4-of-5 targets for 103 yards and a touchdown. That touchdown was a 60-yard bomb over the head of Reed, one of very few deep balls he has allowed into his coverage as a Jet.

Outside of the Miami games, Reed essentially played like a Sauce Gardner clone in 2023. Across 13 non-Dolphins games, Reed allowed one touchdown, 5.0 yards per target, and 0.60 yards per cover snap – a stat line that could be easily confused with Gardner’s final numbers in 2023 (1 TD, 4.9 yards per target, and 0.43 yards per cover snap).

Reed is that good in most weeks. But the Dolphins had his number. As the Jets prepare for a race to the finish against Miami and Buffalo in the AFC East, they’ll need Reed to flip the script on Waddle in 2024.

Jets WR Mike Williams vs. Titans CB L’Jarius Sneed

Mike Williams and L’Jarius Sneed had their share of AFC West battles as members of the Chargers and Chiefs, respectively. There were four full head-to-head matchups (counting out a fifth game where Williams played just six snaps), and the two sides came away with an even split.

Here are Williams’ stat lines in four games against Sneed (overall game stats, not just targets against Sneed):

  • Week 2, 2020: 2 catches on 4 targets for 14 yards
  • Week 3, 2021: 7 catches on 9 targets for 122 yards and 2 TD
  • Week 15, 2021: 3 catches on 9 targets for 49 yards
  • Week 2, 2022: 8 catches on 10 targets for 113 yards and 1 TD

Williams and Sneed did not meet in 2023, as Williams’ season ended in Week 3 due to an ACL tear. Prior to the injury, Williams had already racked up 19 catches for 249 yards and a touchdown in two-plus games. Sneed, meanwhile, had the best season of his career, finishing fifth in All-Pro voting among cornerbacks (falling just five points shy of a second-team All-Pro appearance).

This offseason, Sneed was dealt to Tennessee for a third-round pick, and he is now projected to be the Titans’ top cornerback. Sneed will see plenty of Garrett Wilson, but he’s sure to get some licks against his former AFC West rival, too, with both sides looking to break the 2-2 tie.

Jets RT Morgan Moses vs. Steelers EDGE T.J. Watt

T.J. Watt single-handedly wins games for Pittsburgh. In his career, the Steelers are 69-33-2 when he plays and 1-10 when he sits. His presence changes the entire outlook for an otherwise mediocre roster.

Playing essentially all of his snaps on the left side of the defensive line, it’s the right tackle’s job to contain Watt, which means Morgan Moses will have to step up when the Jets storm into Allegheny County on October 20. The Jets are hoping Moses can hold up better than he did in his last meeting with the Steelers’ superstar.

Moses missed the Ravens’ first game against Pittsburgh last season, but he started at right tackle when the Steelers traveled to Baltimore for the regular season finale. It was a meaningless game for the Ravens (who had clinched the top seed), so Moses only played 51% of the snaps, rotating with Daniel Faalele throughout the day.

Yet, on only 16 pass-blocking snaps, Moses coughed up three total pressures (18.8% pressure rate), including a sack to Watt. For the game, Moses earned a 23.9 pass-blocking grade at Pro Football Focus. Not only was that his season-low, but it was less than half of his next-worst single-game mark in 2023.

Moses struggled against the Steelers in 2022 as well. Across two games (one of which he left after playing 71% of the snaps), he allowed four pressures on 41 pass-blocking snaps (9.8% pressure rate), including another sack. He also had two penalties. Moses posted PFF pass-blocking grades of 56.5 and 47.3 in the two games.

The Jets will probably want to give Moses some tight end help in situations like this one where Watt is in a wide alignment. Moses has been one of the league’s better right tackles over the past few years, but at this stage of his career, he cannot single-handedly keep up with the speed of Watt.

How Moses and the Jets handle this matchup will be the biggest factor in determining whether they can get the Sunday night victory. New York is fortunate to finally have a solid right tackle who can go toe-to-toe with star left-side pass rushers, but as good as Moses is, even he has been no match for Watt. Stopping him will have to be a team effort.

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