- Field Yates, ESPN Insider
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The Patriots and Jets made headlines this offseason for a variety of reasons, with each team happy to get back to football in Week 1.
The teams also had similar outcomes during their season-opening games, as the Patriots marched to a narrow road victory over the Bills, while the Jets squeaked past the Buccaneers at home, with each team winning with a field goal in the closing seconds.
Neither team has had much time to think about their Week 1 victory, however, as they are each preparing on a short week, with the Patriots hosting the Jets this Thursday night in a nationally televised game.
Though the Jets are perhaps the Patriots' most familiar opponent, below is an overview on names and notes for Gang Green.
Record: 1-0 (t-1st in AFC East)
Head coach: Rex Ryan (fifth season)
Offensive coordinator: Marty Mornhinweg
Defensive coordinator: Dennis Thurman
THREE PLAYERS TO KNOW, OFFENSE
1. QB Geno Smith. The player some thought could be the first man taken in this year’s draft ended up sliding to the Jets at pick 39 in Round 2, and now he’s the team’s starting QB. Incumbent starter Mark Sanchez went down with an injury during the preseason, putting an end to a bizarre competition that Smith may have won by default as much as anything else. The rookie fared pretty well in his first NFL action, completing 24-of-38 attempts for 256 yards and a touchdown. He turned the ball over twice and had some uneven moments during the game, but Smith’s second-half contributions were important in the dramatic win.
2. C Nick Mangold. The Patriots got a look at a terrific center last week in Eric Wood for Buffalo, but Mangold may well set the standard league-wide among interior linemen. He’s dependable, strong, smart, athletic and a leader for an offense that needs it. Mangold and Vince Wilfork have shared glowing praise for each other previously, and that’s a one-on-one battle worth watching. He left the team’s season opener with an elbow injury, but later returned.
3. RB Bilal Powell/RB Chris Ivory. Ivory was acquired through a draft day trade in New Orleans, and though his poor Week 1 production (just 15 yards on 10 carries) has some wondering what to make of his prospects, he’s a gifted runner who can smash through traffic. Powell, meanwhile, was the starter in Week 1 and the Jets’ leading carrier with 12 rushes, though he too was held in check by the Bucs’ run D.
THREE PLAYERS TO KNOW, DEFENSE
1. DL Muhammad Wilkerson. Versatile, strong, disruptive and tough, Wilkerson is one of the best young defensive linemen in the NFL. He’s been everything the Jets had hoped when they snatched him with the 30th pick in the 2011 draft. He’s been productive as a pro (he had 69 tackles and 5.0 sacks last season), but the numbers don’t tell the whole story on Wilkerson. He has the ability to move around the line if needed and he’s the type of player the Patriots’ offensive line will seek out before every snap and identify where he’s aligned.
2. CB Antonio Cromartie. When he’s at his best, Cromartie is an incredibly difficult cornerback to throw at. He’s long, fast and has good ball skills, something the Jets have relied on since acquiring him in a trade with the Chargers in 2010. He’s never been afraid to speak his mind and has a short memory on the field -- a good thing for a defensive back. With Darrelle Revis now in Tampa Bay, Cromartie is the leader of the Jets secondary.
3. LB David Harris. Our take on Harris? An underrated rock in the middle of the Jets defense. He was an All-Pro pick in 2009, but that’s the extent of his individual player honors, despite the fact that he’s had three seasons with 123 or more tackles and has 22.5 sacks in six years. The Jets rely heavily on Harris as a defensive quarterback, working closely with head coach Rex Ryan and new defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman.
Other notes: The Jets had a pair of first-round picks this year, using both on defensive players. Cornerback Dee Milliner made a couple of tackles in Week 1, while defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson shined with seven stops and a half sack. ... 2012 first-round pick Quinton Coples, whom the team moved from defensive end to outside linebacker this offseason, remains out with a hairline fracture in his ankle. ... The Jets exchanged Landrys at safety this offseason, losing LaRon in free agency while signing his brother, Dawan. He made an interception in his Jets debut. ... Veteran receiver Santonio Holmes was active in Week 1 after a long recovery from a Lisfranc injury, totaling one catch on three targets.