The NY Jets may have choked away an early lead against the Cleveland Browns in the Hall of Fame game, but they have a chance to get momentum back on their side against a young team trying to build around a rookie quarterback.
The Carolina Panthers present a solid challenge for New York. Not only do they have the No. 1 pick in Bryce Young ready to make his debut, but they have a quality defense that was one of the few bright spots in Matt Rhule's largely disappointing tenure.
The Jets likely will sit key starters like Aaron Rodgers, but many of the same key role players that managed to shine against Cleveland will be on the field for this contest against Carolina. The defensive line is the strength of this team, and they will once again be in the spotlight against the Panthers.
This game will be won in the trenches, as the talented Jets defensive line will take on a Panthers team that is bringing back most of their starting offensive line. Even when the backups come in, this game could be decided by who ends up winning at the line of scrimmage.
The NY Jets' defensive line must show out against the Panthers
Carolina has nearly their entire 2022 line back in the fold, including former Top 10 pick (and Jets Twitter darling) Ikem Ekwonu. Tackle Taylor Moton and center Bradley Bozeman all stand out as players the Jets must be worried about. If they play a handful of series, many of the Jets' more important linemen can get reps against high-end tackles in the NFL.
The Jets' line performed admirably against Cleveland, though the inability of Kellen Mond to properly distribute the ball likely played a part in the offense's poor performance. Carolina might be a better test if Young is as good as he was at Alabama.
Look for Will McDonald to have another big night. Finally free from the constraints of his 4i collegiate role and back to playing a more natural position for someone with his talents, McDonald was one of the best players on the field for either team.
If the Jets can make life uncomfortable on Young and show they can get consistent pressure against an offensive line that profiles to be a solid unit this season, Robert Saleh can walk away from their first few preseason games pleased with the efforts his team has made.