Duane Brown has had this game circled on the schedule since the day he joined the Jets during the offseason.
Sunday marks the five-time Pro Bowl left tackle’s return to Seattle’s Lumen Field after spending the previous five seasons with the Seahawks.
“When I came here and I saw the schedule, you got that one circled,” Brown told the Daily News. “The locker room is full of guys that played with me last year, the coaching staff and everybody.
“It is a fun environment to play in. It is going to be loud. It is going to be a good challenge. They’ve had a good season, their defense flies around, they have good players over there, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Brown began his career with the Houston Texans after they selected him in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft out of Virginia Tech. After a decade in Houston, Brown was traded to the Seahawks for cornerback Jeremy Lane, a 2018 fifth-round pick and a 2019 second-round pick.
During his five seasons in Seattle, Brown went to the playoffs three times. He also was a two-time Pro Bowl selection during his time in the Pacific Northwest.
Following the 2021 season, Seattle decided to go in a new, younger direction after suffering their first losing season since 2011. The Seahawks chose offensive lineman Charles Cross with the ninth overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft.
After losing Mekhi Becton to a fractured kneecap during practice, the Jets inked the 37-year-old to a two-year, $22 million contract. George Fant, who was supposed to play at left tackle, moved to right tackle to accommodate Brown, who has played most of his career on one side.
“It is going to be weird,” Brown said of playing against the Seahawks. “I have a lot of respect for those fans. They create a really hostile environment. …. It is going to be fun. There are a lot of guys I have gotten to know over there. I know their tendencies, they know mine, so it will be good.”
Brown thought he was coming to a young, rebuilding team during the summer. But the Jets are still in the middle of the playoff race with two games to go.
Despite going winless in December losing four straight games, the Jets are just one game back of the seventh and final playoff spot in the AFC. The Dolphins are currently 8-7 while the Jets sit at 7-8 and in ninth place, the same record as the eighth-seeded Patriots.
If the Jets defeat the Seahawks on Sunday and the Dolphins defeat the Patriots, that would set up a winner-take-all scenario in Week 18 in Miami, with the victory claiming the postseason spot.
Having Mike White back at quarterback could help Gang Green’s offense. He missed the last two games after fracturing his ribs in the Week 14 matchup against the Bills.
The Jets’ offense wasn’t the same without White at quarterback as they averaged 250 passing yards per game as opposing defenses played the run more than the pass with Zach Wilson under center.
“Obviously, it has been a tough month for us,” Brown said. “We got a lot of help last weekend, so it is a good position to be in. But at the same time, we all understand that we have to handle our business this week. Nothing else matters if we don’t perform the way we are capable of.
“Offensively, we have to step up to that challenge. The defense has been playing lights out. It is a great position to be in, we just have to hold up our end.”