With the NY Jets set to kick off their season on the road against the Carolina Panthers, we take a deep dive approach to how the Jets fare against an improved Panthers team. Football season is officially back, and these scouting reports will be featured weekly from here on out.
The Jets will be going face-to-face against a few familiar faces on Sunday, one of them being former Jets' quarterback Sam Darnold.
Darnold, now set to enter his fourth-year in the NFL, and his first with his new squad, can begin to right the ship by securing a victory over his former team. The Jets, on the other hand, believe they have what it takes to make life difficult for Darnold and co.
The Panthers' offensive line hosts the likes of some returning players, along with a couple new ones. This is good news for the green and white who hope to expose a mismatch along the interior of Carolina's front-five.
The NY Jets defensive line could wreak havoc on Sunday
The Jets' defensive line was the talk of the summer throughout the majority of training camp, especially when witnessing the pressure that they were able to generate coming off the edge.
Then, that talk became more of a whisper when newly acquired defensive end Carl Lawson went down with what was later disclosed as a ruptured Achilles, causing him to miss the entire 2021 NFL season.
The Jets were down, but they certainly weren't out.
Panthers' left tackle Cameron Erving, and right tackle Taylor Moton will still lineup opposite a Lawson come Sunday. It just won't be Carl.
The Jets went out a couple weeks after Carl Lawson went down with injury and acquired former Texans' defensive end Shaq Lawson to pair opposite noticeably improved second-year defensive end Bryce Huff.
Lawson and Huff, along with the Jets' intimidating interior defensive line, should be enough to give Darnold and the Panthers' offense fits throughout the matchup.
It won't all be cupcakes and rainbows for the Jets' defense, though, as one positional group will likely keep the Jets' hands full for the majority of the contest. The Panthers are set to host the return of the multi-talented Christian McCaffrey.
McCaffrey, 25, suffered a high-ankle sprain, while also sustaining a number of other injuries that caused him to miss the final 13 games of the 2020 season. Though, with McCaffrey now reportedly at full health, he'll likely have the Jets' young linebackers running in circles.
One player in the second-level of the Jets' defense that may be able to temper the electric McCaffrey is 29-year-old linebacker C.J. Mosley.
Mosley, who missed the entire 2020 season due to a COVID-19 opt-out, looks to bring his versatile game back to a high level in 2021. Mosley is set to play at a career-low 231 pounds heading into this season, his lowest since college.
His elusiveness showed throughout the preseason. A lean Mosley should only prove beneficial for a Jets team that has been on the hunt for fast, athletic linebackers to excel in their scheme.
Speaking of fast, the Panthers are set to deploy former Jets' wide receiver Robby Anderson come Sunday. The team will certainly have to game plan for Anderson's game-changing speed and ability to torch cornerbacks off the line-of-scrimmage.
The Jets know Anderson all too well from his time in New York. Now reunited with Sam Darnold, Anderson should be able to reignite some of what got him so highly touted to sign an extension with Carolina.
The Jets seem more than excited to debut their new weapons against a team in Carolina that is considered quite young in the secondary, not unlike the green and white.
Rookie wide receiver Elijah Moore, who suffered a quad injury earlier in camp, is now fully healthy and ready to roll for Week 1. He'll be tested, though.
The Panthers are also set to debut their impressive rookie cornerback Jaycee Horn whom they picked at No. 8 overall in this past draft.
Horn will likely see the likes of Corey Davis and Keelan Cole for the majority of the game, but don't count out Moore to throw Horn in a blender at some point in this one.
The NFL loves their storylines. And what better matchup would they want than a quarterback battling out against his former bunch. On the other side, quarterback Zach Wilson will be making his debut for the green and white come Sunday.
The highly anticipated regular-season debut for Wilson, who by all accounts impressed during the preseason, will now come to fruition.
First-year Jets' head coach Robert Saleh will try to make his mark against second-year head coach Matt Rhule of Carolina. The better coached team will most certainly come out on top, and the Jets are hoping Saleh and his squad can be the one's to do so.