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Four things to know about the New York Jets

New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) hands the ball to running back Breece Hall (20) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2023, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson (2) hands the ball to running back Breece Hall (20) during the first half of an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2023, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

The Washington Commanders will be traveling to New York for Christmas Eve this season to take on the Jets at MetLife Stadium. Here are four things to know about the Commanders' next opponent.

1. They'll be using a third string QB.

To say the Jets' quarterback situation has not gone as the franchise planned would be an understatement. They sent a heavy load of assets to acquire Aaron Rodgers from the Green Back Packers this offseason, but less than five minutes into their first game of the season, that hope quickly died with him suffering a torn Achilles that will keep him sidelined for the rest of the season.

Re-enter Zach Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick from two years ago who has struggled to start his professional career. Wilson has had his moments; the Jets came just three points shy of tying the Kansas City Chiefs and even beat the Philadelphia Eagles 20-14 in week 6.

Since then, things for New York have widely taken a turn for the worse. Last week, Wilson sustained a concussion during their game against the Miami Dolphins.

Without Rodgers or Wilson, the Jets are calling up third string quarterback Trevor Siemian, who will likely suit up against the Commanders with Wilson in the concussion protocol. Siemian spent a season with the Jets in 2019 but has also played for Broncos, Saints and Bears. He re-signed with the Jets back in September and placed on the active roster in November.

Siemian does not produce results like Rodgers, or even Wilson. He's had moments of solid and below average quarterback plays since he was drafted in 2015 with 7,203 yards to go with 42 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. Still, he's prepared to step up for a Jets offense that has struggled mightily all season.

"I'm ready, whatever they need me to do. I'm ready," Siemian said after the Jet's loss to the Dolphins.

2. They've got one of the best linebackers in the NFL.

While the offense may be a problem for the Jets, their defense has been one of the best in the league. Yes, they let up 30 points last week, but they are still a talented group that has given up the seventh fewest yards and 11th fewest points this season.

The Jets' defense is full of exceptional players, from Quinnen Williams to Sauce Gardner, but few of them have been playing as well as veteran linebacker C.J. Mosley.

Mosley brings incredible strength to the Jet's defense, racking up 130 tackles so far this season. His leadership also has been an important point of navigation as the Jets as a team have struggled so far this season.

After last week's 30-0 defeat by the Dolphins, Mosley took it personally. The work he has done since is focused on what Washington's offense will bring to the table and how they can combat it.

"I'm a leader on this defense," Mosley said. "I'm a leader on this team, so that's just who I have to be no matter if I'm tired or hurting or not feeling it. I don't have time or room for excuses. I just got to make sure that I'm in that right mental mindset every day."

Mosley has been incredibly consistent throughout his career, recording at least 100 tackles in seven of his nine seasons. He's performing like one of the best linebackers in the league with an overall grade of 83.8 (seventh for his position) among all linebackers. He'll be a problem the Commanders must account for on Sunday.

3. They've contained the best of the best quarterbacks.

The Commanders have faced plenty of quality defenses this season, and the Jets are no different, despite needing to cover up for the team's deficiencies in other areas.

The Jets have been tested against some of the best offenses, from the Kansas City Chiefs to the Philadelphia Eagles. With the exception of the Dolphins, who scored 30 points and won both matchups, the unit has held up well. They forced four turnovers in Week 1 against the Buffalo Bills, all of which came from Josh Allen, allowing them to escape with a win in overtime.

But they've also given several other quarterbacks fits this season. Although the Chiefs managed to win in Week 4, Patrick Mahomes struggled with his third lowest passing numbers of the season (203 yards) while also throwing two interceptions. Against the Philadelphia Eagles two weeks later, they forced Jalen Hurts to throw three interceptions for just the second time in his career.

It should be an imposing challenge for Sam Howell, who has hit a wall with the rest of the offense over the last month. He completed just 11-of-26 passes in the Commanders' matchup against the Los Angeles Rams last week and was pulled in favor of Jacoby Brissett in the fourth quarter. Brissett produced played well enough in the Commanders' final two offensive possessions of the game with a touchdown to Terry McLaurin and a 48-yard pass that nearly resulted in a second score.

Ron Rivera confirmed that Howell will remain the Commanders' starting quarterback, but things aren't going to get any easier for him against the Jets. Cornerbacks Gardner and D.J. Reed are playing among the best at their position with the duo combining for 117 tackles and 17 pass breakups.

Check out the top photos of the Washington Commanders preparing for their Christmas Eve matchup against the New York Jets.

4. Their season has taken a turn for the worse.

Six weeks into the 2023 season, it looked like the Jets just might have been able to not just survive the year, but also compete for a playoff spot. They had won three straight games, highlighted by impressively upsetting the Eagles, 20-14.

Much like the Commanders, however, the season has fallen apart for the Jets. They've dropped six of their previous seven games, failing to score more than 13 points in any of them. Even then defense has struggled with the unit giving up at least 30 points four of the last five matchups.

The Jets were officially eliminated from playoff contention last week, thanks to a 30-0 loss to the Dolphins, leaving them left with nothing to do but finish out the season and look towards the future, when Rodgers is expected to return from injury.

In other scenario, the Christmas Eve matchup between the Commanders and Jets could have featured two teams making a final push for the playoffs. Instead, the reality is that both are simply trying to stop the bleeding and finish a disappointing season on a high note.

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