Patriots Jets Football

The Jets have struggled with the Patriots when quarterback Zach Wilson is forced to take over the contest instead of being a game manager. John Minchillo/Associated Press

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Over the years, Bill Belichick has gotten into the heads of many quarterbacks.

Some, like Peyton Manning and Josh Allen, eventually broke free of Belichick’s spell, but not before going through years of requisite suffering trying to figure out all of his disguises.

Sam Darnold? Jared Goff? Justin Herbert?

They’re still spooked. They still turn to mush in the face of Belichick’s defense. They still haven’t busted loose.

Zach Wilson?

He’s TBD.


He was a train wreck last year against the Patriots. And during the Week 8 clash this season, Wilson was still seeing ghosts.

While he’s been OK against everyone else, Wilson continues to fall into all the traps when it comes to Belichick and the Patriots defense.

“I had some boneheaded plays,” Wilson admitted after the late October loss to the Patriots in which he threw three picks, most of them being of the inexplicable and inexcusable variety.

Wilson, who is 0-3 against the Patriots, just couldn’t help himself. It was almost like the Patriots baited him into each one, because they knew he couldn’t just throw the ball away and live for another down as he was attempting to escape the pass rush. He had to be the hero and try for something that wasn’t there. He had to show off his golden arm.

“This is an organization that feasts on mistakes,” Jets Coach Robert Saleh said of the Patriots. “They just wait for you to implode.”

And Wilson kindly obliged.


The question now is whether or not Wilson remains a puddle, or if Saleh and the Jets’ coaching staff were able to beat the spook out of him during their bye week.

Midway through the season, the Jets have done a good job keeping Wilson in check largely because they’ve relied heavily on their running game and a superb defense to carry them to victory. Wilson has been more of a game manager, as opposed to a wheeler and dealer trying to make things happen.

During the first meeting, the Jets had just lost star back Breece Hall. The Patriots were able to bottle up the running game and force Wilson to throw the ball to try and beat them. Right on cue, Wilson turned into a turnover machine, throwing three interceptions – two to Devin McCourty, one to Ja’Whaun Bentley.

Led by Matthew Judon, the Patriots basically pressured Wilson at every turn, knowing he’d implode. Wilson holds the NFL’s worst passer rating when pressured (6.6), and the Patriots happily took advantage.

The following game, the Jets were able to upset the Bills thanks to reining in Wilson and keeping him on course. The Jets have had a much better chance of winning if they keep Wilson well under 30 throws. In the first game against the Patriots, he put the ball up 41 times, completing 20 passes with two touchdowns.

Last year as a rookie, in his first encounter with Belichick’s defense, he was intercepted four times on 31 throws.


Wilson certainly has a ton of talent, he just hasn’t figured out how to best use it in the NFL. He might never learn. If he does, the Patriots are in trouble.

If he’s able to get a clue and become a better quarterback, the Patriots – who have won 13 straight against the Jets – will be hard-pressed to beat Gang Green in the future. The tables will turn, because the rest of that Jets roster is pretty darn good, and more talented than the current edition of the Patriots.

That’s what happened when Manning finally broke through and got a handle on what Belichick was doing. Same with Allen in Buffalo. The Patriots no longer held the upper hand when it came to Manning’s Colts during their yearly AFC bouts, or Allen’s Bills in division matchups.

For this game, however, one that’s critical for both teams, the Patriots will once again try to force Wilson to lose his mind.

And they’ll be patient, because his meltdowns typically come in the second half when he tires of being Checkdown Charlie.

The Jets have proven to be more dangerous offensively when running the ball effectively and setting up their play-action/RPO passing game with Wilson essentially making safe throws. So if the Patriots can shut down the run, that forces Wilson’s hand.


BARMORE TO IR: Christian Barmore, surprisingly ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Jets, was placed on injured reserve later Friday, according to ESPN, meaning the standout defensive lineman will miss at least four more games.

Barmore has been sidelined since sustaining a knee injury against the Browns in October. He was present on Wednesday and Thursday, listed as a limited participant, but may have suffered a setback.

Barmore is eligible to return against the Raiders on Dec. 18, and by then the Patriots will have been without him for over two months. After an impressive rookie season, this injury has derailed Year 2 for New England’s best pass-rushing defensive tackle.

NEW YORK wide receiver Corey Davis and defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins were ruled out against the Patriots.

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