When Sam Darnold drops back to pass for the first time in a Carolina Panthers uniform on Week 1, it'll be against his former team.
The Jets are slated to travel to Carolina on the first Sunday of the regular season, taking on the Panthers on Sept. 12 at 1 p.m. ET.
New York traded Darnold to the Panthers last month, a chance to start over at the quarterback position. Then, the Jets quickly added Darnold's replacement a few weeks later, drafting Zach Wilson out of BYU with the No. 2 pick of the NFL draft.
Those two signal-callers will face off in the season's opener. Wilson hasn't officially been named the Jets' starting quarterback for Week 1—he recognized during rookie minicamp that the starting job must be earned—but it's fair to assume he'll be under center. New York will likely add a veteran to bolster the depth in their quarterback room as the offseason continues.
The Week 1 matchup will also be the first game of Robert Saleh's tenure as New York's head coach, making his debut on the Jets' sideline. A slew of additional coaches, like offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, will make their first in-game appearance in their new roles.
Since trading Darnold, the Jets have already made it clear that they're striving not to make the same mistakes with their new quarterback in town. New York drafted three additional offensive pieces over the first four rounds of the draft, adding a top-rated guard in Alijah Vera-Tucker and two playmakers (wide receiver Elijah Moore and running back Michael Carter).
Wide receiver Robby Anderson is among the other former Jets on Carolina's roster.
During Darnold's three-year stint with Gang Green, he had a 13-25 record. Never surrounded by the right group to facilitate his success—from players on offense to his coaches—he'll have a chance to prove he can produce early on in a game that'll surely have more meaning to the quarterback.
The remainder of the Jets' 2021 schedule will be released later Wednesday evening.
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