3 New York Jets to watch for in Hall of Fame game against the Cleveland Browns

The Hall of Fame game between the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns, will be light on Aaron Rodgers and Deshaun Watson but the real excitement will be generated by the players fighting for a roster spot and the chance to pursue their dream of an NFL career.

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) in the first half on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, in East
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) in the first half on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, in East / Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com /
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The New York Jets, who are always among the most talked-about teams in the NFL just because they play in the greatest media capital of the world (and are less well-behaved than their older siblings, the New York Giants), come to town to kick off the NFL season by playing the Cleveland Browns in the Hall of Fame Game in historic Canton, Ohio.

In front of the ghosts of the Canton Bulldogs and Akron Bulldogs, who started it all back in 1920, we will probably see both teams play one series with their first string just to prove that they can do it, Nothing meaningful will be learned about players like Aaron Rodgers, who are just trying to get in better game condition.

On the other hand, those players trying to make the team will be playing full throttle and maximum intensity for the right to follow their dreams. With that in mind, here are three New York Jets who are going to be playing all out in Canton.

3 New York Jets to watch for in the HOF game versus Cleveland Browns

No. 1: Quarterback Zach Wilson

First on the list is the guy who lost his job to Aaron Rodgers, Zach Wilson. He'll get some needed time to run the new Rodgers-ized Jets offense. When the Jets selected Wilson with the No. 2 overall pick, many analysts thought that he was the Second Coming of Aaron Rodgers, with the same type of amazing accuracy and quick release that Rogers has.

Chris Simms, second-generation NFL quarterback and now a famed analyst, was particularly vociferous in his support, suggesting that Wilson, rather than Trevor Lawrence or Trey Lance, might have been the best quarterback in the 2021 NFL draft. All that may be true; however, Wilson had problems completing footballs to the fellows in the green jerseys and adopted a rather combative attitude with the ferocious New York media.

Unlike their sports teams, the New York media are nearly invincible and Wilson's defiant attitude did not have much success. Wilson graded 22nd in the NFL last season according to ESPN's GIlberto Manzano, which sounds rather good, except Manzano was discussing second-string quarterbacks, meaning that Wilson would be about 54th overall.

Thus, he was way, way below the massive expectations of the carnivorous New York media and their rabid fan base. Now, "rabid" can mean "having or proceeding from an extreme or fanatical support of or belief in something," but in the case of the New York fans, they really do have rabies.

This year, as Rodgers' understudy, he has the opportunity to finally learn how the position is played while Rodgers absorbs the heat. However, as a third-year quarterback with a strong, accurate arm coming up against vanilla defenses and the Browns' second-string personnel groups, it may be an opportunity for Wilson to have some success. He will have the opportunity to throw a few lightning bolts downfield and we may see him pile up some yards against the Browns.

Wilson really does throw a nice ball, with a quick release and an accurate spiral trajectory. What hurt him more than anything was playing on a team with second-string offensive tackles and no running game, meaning that the quarterback was expected to do it all for that team. Veterans like Joe Flacco and Mike White were at least able to function, but a youngster like Wilson was just in over his head. He should be fine in an exhibition game setting.