The Patriots and Jets don’t have much time to rest before their first matchup of the season, but both have something to prove in one way or another.
The two teams have a short week this week with the two AFC East rivals set to do battle Thursday night in Foxboro. The game will feature a pair of 1-0 teams, although it could just as easily be a matchup of 0-1 squads. Both the Patriots and Jets had to work hard for their Week 1 wins, and there are plenty of questions heading into the second week.
The Patriots’ lackluster performance in a win over the Bills on Sunday showed that while the Pats may still be one of the league’s better teams, they still have room to grow. Perhaps no one will prove that more moving forward than running back Stevan Ridley. He was benched Sunday after a couple of fumbles, and Shane Vereen shined in his absence after taking over. With Vereen’s reported injury, however, the pressure is presumably back on Ridley to prove he can give the Patriots another element on offense. Similarly, the Pats will need a better game out of Kenbrell Thompkins. The undrafted rookie turned heads in training camp and preseason, but he proved Sunday that there’s a huge difference between preseason and regular season. He didn’t look good, and while he did have four catches for 42 yards, he was pretty much a non-factor.
On the other side of the field, the questions are legitimate. The Jets came into the season a total mess, and much of that stemmed from the quarterback situation. That’s thanks in large part to Rex Ryan, who had Mark Sanchez in late in a preseason game where Sanchez injured his shoulder. That injury forced Ryan to turn to Geno Smith. The rookie quarterback was “awful” (Ryan’s word) at times in the preseason, and that just adds to the intrigue now. With Ryan’s job likely on the line, his future may rest solely with Smith under center. The Jets were given a gift Week 1 win against a lowly Bucs team, but New York will need Smith to be even better than the 300 total yards of offense he gave them Sunday in the last-second win over Tampa Bay.
There’s plenty of pressure Thursday night, even for Week 2, but who has the most to prove in the first installment of Patriots-Jets?