Zach Wilson looks to be the head man in New York come Week 1 of the 2021 season. Earlier this week, the NFL released the full schedule for each team, complete with an additional 17th game for the first time.
The Jets start a new era with a fresh, new coaching staff and Wilson as their No. 2 overall pick at quarterback. One would assume that, barring something drastic, Wilson will start from the get-go, seeing as the other two quarterbacks on the roster have not played an official snap in the NFL.
What are some key games for Wilson in his rookie campaign? Let’s dive into five.
Week 1 at Carolina Panthers
Right off the bat, the Jets jump into a game dripping with intrigue. First, it will be Wilson’s first game in the NFL and all the jitters and anticipation that comes along with it. This will be BYU fans’ first look at their former quarterback in official NFL action. Many fans have bought Jets gear and declared their allegiance to the Jets so long as Wilson is the man in Gotham.
As if that wasn’t juicy enough, on the other sideline will be the player Wilson replaced at quarterback in New York, Sam Darnold. The Jets jettisoned Darnold ahead of the draft, to Carolina for a sixth round pick in 2021 and a second and fourth round pick in 2022 after selecting him third overall just three years earlier. Will this be a Sam Darnold revenge game? Or will Wilson show the Jets why they moved on from the USC signal caller in favor of the former Cougar?
Week 2 vs. New England Patriots
Nothing like debuting in front of the Jets fans in East Rutherford against a team that has won six Super Bowls this millennium. Patriots coach Bill Belichick is perhaps the greatest defensive coach in football history. Former Cougar Kyle Van Noy will be chasing Wilson around as he just returned to New England, where he won two Super Bowls.
There is no easy acclimation period for Wilson.
Week 9 at Indianapolis Colts, Thursday Night Football
The Jets are not on primetime often these days, and it has been for good reason. This will be Wilson’s only primetime game in his rookie year and it comes on the road against a team that went 11-5 last season. All eyes will be on Wilson, who will be hitting the halfway point of his rookie season by this time.
It’s a battle of former second overall picks, five years apart, in Wilson against new Colts quarterback Carson Wentz on one of the NFL’s biggest stages.
Week 14 vs. New Orleans Saints
This is one matchup every BYU fan should have circled on their calendars. Take a rest from decorating for Christmas to take in a possible BYU-versus-BYU quarterback battle. It is yet to be seen if Taysom Hill will be the starting quarterback for the Saints, as he will have to stave off former Heisman Trophy winner and five-year starter in the NFL, Jameis Winston.
If he does win the job, this could be one of the biggest NFL games in decades for the BYU program. Two of their former signal callers as starting quarterbacks playing each other in the NFL, which has not happened since Steve Young and the 49ers matched up with Ty Detmer’s Eagles in the 1996 playoffs.
Week 16 vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
After all of the Christmas chaos has ended, you can relax the day after in front of a battle between the top two picks of the 2021 draft. Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 overall pick and newly minted franchise quarterback in Jacksonville, will bring the Jaguars to New York to face Zach Wilson in his building.
There was not much mystery in who would be the No. 1 overall pick before the draft, but a few experts explored the possibility of Zach Wilson being better than Trevor Lawrence.
The two prized picks will get to settle it on the field in their rookie year.