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Jets to open 2021 NFL schedule against Carolina Panthers and former QB Sam Darnold

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold  scrambles

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold  scrambles during the second half against the Steelers Dec. 22, 2019. Credit: Lee S. Weissman

The Jets will open the NFL season with a new young quarterback leading their team against the former face of their franchise.

Rookie Zach Wilson will make his NFL debut on Sept 12 at Carolina at 1 p.m. in what will be a revenge/redemption game for Sam Darnold.

Drafted No. 3 in 2018, Darnold spent the past three seasons as the Jets quarterback. He showed flashes but never developed into the franchise quarterback the Jets hoped. The Jets traded Darnold to the Panthers in April when they decided that Wilson would be their choice with the No. 2 pick in this draft.

"This should be fun," the Jets tweeted after the Week 1 game was announced.

This will also be Robert Saleh’s first game as an NFL head coach. The former San Francisco defensive coordinator was hired to replace Adam Gase after the Jets went 2-14 last season. Saleh will try and snap the longest active NFL playoff drought. The Jets have missed the postseason for 10 consecutive years.

Some other notable games on the Jets’ schedule include: their MetLife Stadium home opener, Sunday, Sept. 19 against AFC East rival New England; their first game in London since 2015, Oct 10 against the Atlanta Falcons, Wilson dueling No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence and the Jaguars, Dec. 26 at MetLife, and Tom Brady and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay visiting the Jets in their home finale, Jan. 2.

The games against the Jaguars and Buccaneers end a stretch in which the Jets play six home games in eight weeks. It starts with back-to-back games against division opponents Buffalo (Nov. 14) and Miami (Nov. 21). The Jets also host the Eagles (Dec. 5) and Saints (Dec. 12).

Their other home games are Oct 3 vs. Tennessee and Oct. 31 against Cincinnati. The Jets have nine home games this season as a result of the NFL expanding to a 17-game schedule for the first time.

The Jets open the season with four of their first six games on the road: at Carolina, at Denver (Sept. 26), at Atlanta (Oct. 10, London) and at New England (Oct. 24). The Jets’ bye is Week 6 and precedes the New England game.

They close out the regular season, Jan. 9, at Buffalo.

The Jets currently only have one primetime game: Thursday night, Nov. 4 at Indianapolis. The majority of the Jets’ games are 1 o’clock starts, including all nine home games. The exceptions are 4:05 p.m. at Denver and 9:30 a.m. kickoff in London.

The date and time of the Jets’ Week 15 game in Miami have yet to be determined. It could be played either Saturday, Dec. 18 or Sunday, Dec. 19.

New York Sports