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2021 New York Jets Schedule: Examining Top Defenses Zach Wilson Will Face

Jenna CiccotelliAnalyst IIIApril 30, 2021

BYU quarterback Zach Wilson warms up before participating in the school's pro day  football workout for NFL scouts Friday, March 26, 2021, in Provo, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

The New York Jets traded away Sam Darnold with confidence that they would find their quarterback in the NFL draft. And they did just that, taking Brigham Young's Zach Wilson with the No. 2 overall pick on Thursday.

Wilson is poised to assume the starting role immediately upon his arrival at the Meadowlands.

While the Jets did a fair amount of work to boost the offense this offseason, adding wideout Corey Davis and running back Tevin Coleman while also re-signing Josh Adams, Daniel Brown and Vyncint Smith as depth pieces, that's only half of the issue for any incoming quarterback.

Let's take a look at the defenses Wilson will have to counter with in his rookie season. Here's how their upcoming opponents fared defensively in 2020: 

Home Opponents

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Away Opponents

  • Buffalo Bills: 352.5 YPD (14th), 23.4 PPG (16th)
  • Miami Dolphins: 367.9 YPG (20th), 21.1 PPG (fifth)
  • New England Patriots: 353.8 YPG (14th), 22.1 PPG (sixth)
  • Houston Texans: 416.8 YPG (30th), 29.0 PPG (27th)
  • Indianapolis Colts: 332.1 YPG (eighth), 22.6 PPG (10th)
  • Denver Broncos: 367.9 YPG (20th), 27.9 PPG (25th)
  • Atlanta Falcons: 398.4 YPG (29th), 25.9 PPG (19th)
  • Carolina Panthers: 360.1 YPG (18th), 25.1 PPG (18th) 

Wilson is coming off of a major year in which he threw for 3,692 yards and 33 touchdowns with just three interceptions (a year after posting an 11-9 touchdown-to-interception ratio). While he's mobile, he's not considered a dual-threat quarterback by any means, having rushed for 254 yards—though he did get 10 touchdowns.

Still, he shouldn't be expected to be the team's saving grace when it comes to defenses that are strong defenders of the pass. That's a problem he could face against the New Orleans Saints, who had the league's fifth-best passing defense at 217.0 yards per game.

But for the most part, he should have an easy go of it against the league's worst passing defense in the Atlanta Falcons (293.6 yards per game).

The Falcons need to boost the roster just about everywhere, but there are glaring holes on the defense, where Erik Harris could be counted on at safety if need be. But the rest of the line needs some help, some of which may come over the weekend. 

They Jets will also fare well against the fourth-worst Titans and the sixth-worst Jaguars in the passing game.

As a consequence of playing in a (usually) tough AFC East, Wilson will face two tough defenses in the Miami Dolphins—who allowed lots of yardage but few points—and the New England Patriots, but he'll do so twice, so the familiarity aspect should help him. 

It's hard for the Jets to get much worse than they did in 2020. Wilson will face his fair share of challenges under center, but he should be able to use his skill to lead the Jets to more wins than his predecessor did.  

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