By Jeff Moeller, The New York Extra/thenyextra.com
Sunday’s Jets-Pats game could be captivating in some ways rather than another lackluster, season-ending matchup.
In two of the last three years, it has served as a playoff tuneup for former quarterback Tom Brady, who guided his team to two lopsided victories in which the Pats outscored the Jets, 64-9.
This year will have a completely different twist. In fact, it could turn out to be pretty ironic.
The Jets (2-13) enter Foxboro on an impressive two-game winning streak with wins over the Rams and Browns, while the Pats (6-9) are on a three-game skid, their latest being a 38- throttling by the Bills Monday. The Pats also are on the outside looking in on the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Regardless of the final score, there will be some intertwined storylines among both teams.
Earlier this week, a report surfaced stating Jets’ head coach Adam Gase possibly being considered for the Pats’ vacant quarterback coach position, assuming he is fired either Sunday night or Monday morning.
Gase has a good relationship with Pats’ boss Bill Belichick, and he may be willing to join despite taking a step down to serve under offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
That brings us to the quarterback situation.
Pats’ quarterback Cam Newton doesn’t appear to be the answer to Brady, as his only effective and consistent facet is leading all quarterbacks with rushing touchdowns (12) this season (he’s the all-time leader with 70), while throwing for only five
Jarrett Stidham, the 2019 wunderkind rumored to be Brady’s replacement, hasn’t been given any type of long leash from Belichick, and his future is uncertain.
Veteran Brian Hoyer is on the roster simply as an emergency backup.
How would Sam Darnold look in a Patriots’ uniform?
He may look pretty good to Belichick come the new year if the Jets decide to part ways with him and concentrate on drafting either Ohio State’s Justin Fields or BYU’s Zack Wilson as their new signal caller.
Belichick has praised Darnold in the past, and the Pats have been rumored as a possible landing spot for him throughout this season. Darnold surely could benefit from working under Belichick and McDaniels and at age 23, he can be a long-term solution.
Or maybe Belichick will shelve his anti-Jets feelings and accept a head coach/vice president position with the team for a few seasons with Darnold before passing the torch to McDaniels in Florham Park.
There also is a likely scenario that McDaniels could be on the Jets’ radar as a head coaching candidate. He recently expressed his desire to enter the league head coaching carousel.
Don’t laugh. These just aren’t hypotheticals. Keep an eye on the big picture.
As for the game, the Jets have a legitimate shot to beat the Pats, who have been outscored, 84-24, in the last three games, as they continue to audition holdovers for the 2021 season.
It also can be the first step for both teams toward finding some direction as well as an identity for next season.