Russell Wilson and Zach Wilson will be going ahead in what I’m dubbing The Battle of the Wilsons—which is also the ‘homecoming’ of ex-Broncos Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett, who was fired after his abysmal job in the Mile High City.
Sunday’s gridiron extravaganza won’t be your average run of the mill game—there is no doubt it will be personal for Hackett, who took issue to Sean Payton’s harsh comments about his performance with the team last year.
Get your popcorn ready, Broncos Country. I have a feeling this game is going to be a wild ride. So let’s take a look a deeper look at the Jets and what our beloved Broncos are in for this weekend.
2022 New York Jets Review
The Jets finished their 2022 campaign dead last in the AFC East with a 7-10 record. Their offense struggled and was one of the worst units in the entire National Football League, but their defense was top-notch and ranked Top 5 in both points and yards allowed.
2023 Offseason Moves and Acquisitions
The Jets had quite a few signings this past free agent period, but their major move this offseason for the Jets was the trade for Aaron Rodgers. Alas, after getting injured early on in the first game of the season—it’s the Wilson show at quarterback for the Jets.
The Jets had seven picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, but only Will McDonald and Joe Tippmann are seeing playing time for the Jets early on this season. McDonald is third-string on their defensive front seven and Tippmann is their starting right guard.
The Jets Offensive X-Factor: Garrett Wilson
Jets fans are wondering what could have been if Rodgers didn’t get hurt. I think there is little doubt that Rodgers and Wilson would have been one of the more prolific QB-WR combos in the NFL. But for now Wilson will have to rely on the other Wilson [Zach] for the rest of the season.
In his first four games, Wilson has racked up 225 yards on 21 receptions with 2 touchdowns on 36 targets. He is the feature target in their passing game with over 20 more targets than the next receiver (Allen Lazard) on their roster. He is their go-to guy on third downs and leads their team in first down receptions.
I expect Patrick Surtain II to draw coverage on him most of the game, but Vance Joseph is going to have to come up with some good coverage schemes to keep his potential limited. He was one of the best rookies in the league last year and had an incredible season, so the Broncos would be wise to not underestimate his capabilities. Wilson can change the course of a game if he hits his stride. That’s something the Broncos can’t let happen if they want to win on Sunday.
The Jets Defensive X-Factor: Jermaine Johnson II
The Jets defense will be without cornerbacks Brandin Echols and D.J. Reed for Sunday’s game which will put a lot of pressure on their formidable defensive front to come up big in their attempt to rattle Russell Wilson and the Broncos’ offensive line.
The one defensive player I’m honed on on for them is second-year player Jermaine Johnson II. He had a relatively underwhelming rookie season, but he has been all over the field for the Jets this year. In four games, he already has 24 tackles, a sack, plus multiple QB hurries and hits. Those are pretty good numbers, but even better when you realize he has only played half of the defensive snaps.
Defensive Coordinator Jeff Ulbrich loves to rotate and move his guys around, so it’s imperative that Garett Bolles and Mike McGlinchey keep Johnson and the Jets’ pass rushers at bay. Their defense isn’t performing as well as last year, but they have one of the better front sevens in the league, so it will be a big test for Denver’s offensive line.
How the Broncos can secure a victory on Sunday
The Jets are slated to have several members of their secondary out due to injury. One way the Broncos can get another notch in the win column is by taking advantage of that.
Their starting safety duo of Jordan Whitehead and Tony Adams is average at best. With that in mind, I’d love to see the Broncos take deep shots down the field and get those guys on their heels. Hopefully we get to see Marvin Mims more involved in the passing game, because he has proven to be effective every time he has been utilized in that manner.
Additionally, the Broncos and Vance Joseph’s defense will need to step up their efforts in against the Jets’ running game. Containing Breece Hall and Dalvin Cook will be crucial—especially the former—who is averaging a whopping 6.6 yards per carry on the season. The last thing Denver needs is having him run roughshod over their entire defense.
All thing considered, I think the Broncos will play with some added fire given the stakes of the game. They don’t want to drop to 1-4 and there is no way Payton wants to lose to Hackett after everything he said this offseason. I’ve got the Broncos winning by a score of 31-24.
How about you, Broncos Country? What are you watching for in this game and what are some of your keys to victory? Let me know in the comments section!