The New England Patriots and New York Jets will meet for the 125th time on Sunday. As you can imagine, much like the other 124 times they’ve linked up, the teams will look a little bit different. Since their last matchup, a 28-14 Patriots victory in Week 17 of 2020, New England went on a well-documented spending spree that brought an influx of talent into their system, New York hit the organizational reset button by hiring another new head coach in Robert Saleh, and both teams drafted what they hope to be their future franchise quarterbacks in the first round.
Here are the changes on each team’s 53-man roster since their last matchup.
The following 25 players from the last meeting on Jan. 3, 2021 are still on the Patriots active roster:
C David Andrews, G Shaq Mason, CB Joejuan Williams, S Kyle Dugger, S Devin McCourty, CB J.C. Jackson, CB Jonathan Jones, S Adrian Phillips, ST Cody Davis, ST Justin Bethel, LB Chase Winovich, DL Deatrich Wise Jr., DL Lawrence Guy, FB Jakob Johnson, LB Ja’Whaun Bentley, LS Joe Cardona, T Justin Herron, G Michael Onwenu, P Jake Bailey, RB J.J. Taylor, RB James White, TE Devin Asiasi, ST Matthew Slater, WR Gunner Olszewski, WR Jakobi Meyers
Offense: Rookie Mac Jones has taken the reins as starting quarterback of the Patriots. Barring injury and repeat matchups, he will be present on these lists due to the fact that he hasn’t ever played anyone but the Miami Dolphins. The rest of the offense underwent a major overhaul as well. Damiere Byrd is now in Chicago and N’Keal Harry and Dalton Keene are both on IR. They are replaced by some big-money signings in Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor, Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith. The offensive line also saw a major departure in Joe Thuney while seeing the return of Isaiah Wynn and Trent Brown. Sony Michel, who is now a member of the Los Angeles Rams, held down the running back room during Damien Harris’ absence towards the end of last season as well.
Defense: The Patriots’ defense will also look a lot different from their last matchups with most teams as the group saw a major influx of talent. Davon Godchaux, Matt Judon, Kyle Van Noy and Dont’a Hightower will replace the likes of Akeem Spence, Tashawn Bower, Terez Hall and Anfernee Jennings on the defense. The secondary will mostly look the same, save for an absent Stephon Gilmore, who is on the Reserve/PUP list.
Special teams: The lone group that will resemble anything like their counterpart from last year is the special teams unit. Jake Bailey, Matthew Slater, Joe Cardona and the boys are all back with the lone change coming at kicker, where undrafted rookie Quinn Nordin beat out Nick Folk for the job. Folk, however, could still kick as he did last Sunday, as the NFL’s practice squad elevation rules would allow for that. He has one standard elevation remaining.
Coaching staff: The coaching staff underwent a few changes this offseason. Co-offensive line coach Cole Popovich departed before the start of training camp, leaving Carmen Bricillo to coach the unit solo this season. Additions include former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia returning as a special assistant to Bill Belichick, and Bo Hardegree being added as a quarterbacks coach. Troy Brown and Vinnie Sunseri made switches from running backs to wide receivers and defense to running backs, respectively.
The following 20 players from the last meeting are still on the Jets active roster:
CB Javelin Guidry, CB Bryce Hall, DL Bryce Huff, DL John Franklin-Meyers, DL Folorunso Fatukasi, DL Nathan Shephard, G Greg Van Roten, LS Thomas Hennessy, OL Connor McGovern, RB Josh Adams, RB Ty Johnson, S Marcus Maye, T Chuma Edoga, T George Fant, TE Daniel Brown, TE Ryan Griffin, TE Trevon Wesco, WR Braxton Berrios, WR Jeff Smith, WR Denzel Mims
Offense: Much like the Patriots, New York selected their quarterback of the future in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft and are playing him right away. Zach Wilson leads a unit that is much improved from a year ago, boasting the likes of wide receiver’s Corey Davis, Keelan Cole and Elijah Moore, as well as running backs Tevin Coleman and Michael Carter. The offensive line also saw improvements, adding rookie Alijah Vera-Tucker and veteran Morgan Moses. Second-year tackle Mekhi Becton will miss this game after being placed on injured reserve.
Defense: The Jets’ defense will be just about brand new to New England. Safety Marcus Maye and cornerback Bryce Hall are the only two players to start Week 17 of last season versus New England and Week 1 of this season at Carolina. Their improvements include some returning stars in C.J. Mosley and Quinnen Williams, as well as rookie Hamsah Nasirildeen.
Special teams: The Jets placed punter Braden Mann on IR on Tuesday and signed veteran punter Thomas Morestead to their active roster. He and Matt Ammendola will provide a new punting/kicking duo than the one the Patriots have seen. Long snapper Thomas Hennessy is back for year No. 5 in New York.
Coaching staff: The Jets fired their former head coach Adam Gase about five hours following the conclusion of their last game against the Patriots. Since then they hired former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who brought offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich along with him. Former NFL players Miles Austin (WR, Cowboys), Leon Washington (KR, Seahawks), and Matt Cavanaugh (QB, Patriots) have all been added to the staff as well.
Some notable departures from last year’s staff include a bevy of former and future Patriots, including wide receivers coach Shawn Jefferson who is now with the Arizona Cardinals, defensive line coach Andre Carter who is now at LSU, and a new Patriots offensive assistant Hardegree. Former NFL All-Pro wide receiver Hines Ward also left the staff to coach at Florida Atlantic University.