New York Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson against the New England...

New York Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson against the New England Patriots on September 24, 2023. Credit: Lee S. Weissman

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The question posed to Garrett Wilson was straightforward:

Is Sunday a must-win?

His answer was simple:

Yes.

“I try to look at every game that way, and when you have someone coming into your place on Sunday Night Football, it’s definitely a must-win,” Wilson said Friday after practice.

Sunday's nationally-televised date with Kansas City at MetLife Stadium comes at a suboptimal time for the Jets (1-2), who are coming off a blowout loss to Dallas two weeks ago and a 60-minute-long outclassing by the Patriots last Sunday.

And although the results were not what anyone affiliated with the Jets hoped for, what has caused consternation is how they played in the losses. The Jets scored only 10 points in both losses, while allowing Dallas and New England to run a combined 152 plays that gained 740 yards (4.86 yards per play).

“We’re not where we want to be record-wise, playing ball-wise, so we feel we have to pull it all together this week,” Wilson said. “We’re excited for the opportunity.”

And, certainly, a matchup with the defending Super Bowl champions is an opportunity for the Jets to begin to right their ship. But, as Robert Saleh pointed out, Kansas City (2-1) will be a nightmare matchup.

On both sides of the ball.

The Jets’ defense will have to contend with a Kansas City offense that ranks fifth in the NFL in total yards (390.3) and total passing yards (275.5), 11th in rushing yards (128.3), and eighth in points per game (26.0).

Which is why Saleh didn’t seem overly enthused at the prospect of Sauce Gardner covering Travis Kelce when it was suggested during his pre-practice media availability.

“The difference between that situation and this one is they’ve got really good receivers, too,” said Saleh, when it was pointed out that Gardner limited Baltimore tight end Mark Andrews to one catch when the two were matched up in the Jets’ 24-9 loss to the Ravens in last season’s opener.

“[I am] not saying Baltimore doesn’t have good receivers — they do — but in a situation like this where this Kansas City team is loaded, so there [are] a lot of different players we [have] to take care of,” Saleh said.

To summarize: The defense will have its hands full.

So, too, will an Aaron Rodgers-less offense that hasn’t built any semblance of positive traction this season. The Jets are last in the NFL in points per game (14), total yards per game (225), and passing yards per game (133.7).

Some of that is due to having lost Rodgers for the season with a torn left Achilles, an new offensive approach under Nathaniel Hackett, an offensive line which hadn’t had much time together during training, and in part to the havoc wreaked by Micah Parson (two sacks and four tackles) and Matthew Judon (two sacks and five tackles) in the last two games.

Now Kansas City’s Chris Jones (2.5 sacks and three tackles) comes calling.

“Ninety-five is a gamer,” Saleh said of Jones. “He lines up inside, he lines up outside. When he’s rolling, he’s a very, very hard player to block. He can single-handedly take out an entire game [plan]. So in all aspects of our offensive style and what we’re trying to get done, he’s a big problem.”

Another storyline for Sunday night's game is whether Rodgers will be in attendance. During his appearance on the Pat McAfee Show earlier this week, the future Hall of Famer suggested he could be inside MetLife Stadium for the game, and a subsequent report said he had to be cleared by doctors to travel from California to New Jersey.

When asked if he knew whether Rodgers would be with the team, Saleh said, “I’d love to have him back whenever it is safe for him to travel. I know he wants to get back but I’m not exactly sure where that is on the timeline.” 

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