Jets vs. Patriots Preview
Sunday at 1 p.m. will kick-off Patriots week part II, as your New York Jets (3-3) will host the New England Patriots (5-1) in a divisional matchup. These two teams squared off in week two on Thursday night football, a sloppy game that saw the Jets lose 13-10. The Jets are still in the playoff hunt, but a loss this week would be a big blow. Without further ado, keep your legs rested and let’s dive into this week’s matchup.
There might not be a team more beat up than New England. Tom Brady is still Tom Brady, but his weapons are still incredibly young and inexperienced. It’ll be much of the same from week two. Rob Gronkowski (forearm) and Danny Amendola (concussion) are both listed as questionable. There are reports saying that Gronk has been cleared and will play.
Little Julian Edelman is Brady’s go-to guy almost by default. The hype around Amendola to “replace” Wes Welker was pretty large going into the season but quietly Edelman has stepped into the slot and has done a fantastic job, catching 41 passes for 411 yards, including 13 in week two. Undrafted rookie free agent Kenbrell Thompkins is second on the team with 21 catches but 50 total targets and leads the team with four touchdown grabs. Rookie second round pick Aaron Dobson burnt the Jets deep on a touchdown week two and finally seems to be finding a rapport with Brady. If Gronkowski can’t go again, Michael Hoomanawanui will see a lot of balls his way at tight end.
The only new wrinkle from week two is the addition of Austin Collie, a solid slot receiver with a string of concussion problems. The Pats will use three backs, all of which have shown effectiveness this season. Steven Ridley is the teams leading rusher who can provide problems with his shiftiness. LeGarrette Blount is a downhill runner and Brandon Bolden will come in for passing situations, recording 14 receptions on 18 targets this year.
This is more about who’s not playing rather than who is; their three most important players at every level will be out this week. Nose tackle Vince Wilfork (Achilles) and Jerod Mayo (chest) have been placed on IR. Not only is Mayo the quarterback of the defense, but he leads the teams in tackles. Wilfork is a dominant run stopper and has been a staple of the Patriots defense for over a decade. Both are leaders on the defense. Talib might be putting together the best year of any cornerback in the league when you look at how he’s been able to shut down guys like A.J. Green, Julio Jones/Roddy White, and Jimmy Graham in consecutive weeks. Talib re-injured his hip in the third quarter of last week’s game.
Tommy Kelly would ideally fill Wilfork’s role at defensive tackle but even he hasn’t practiced this week and is questionable for the game. At linebacker, look for Jamie Collins or Steven Beauharnais to step into a starting roll at outside linebacker and at corner Devin McCourty could theoretically slide down from safety to corner but I don’t think that’s likely due to his outstanding play. I would expect rookie Logan Ryan to start opposite from Alfonzo Dennard.
How To Win
To begin with, the Jets aren’t the healthiest bunch either. It appears Kyle Wilson will not play, along with Santonio Holmes (hamstring) and Kellen Winslow (suspension). Running back Mike Goodson is out for the year with a torn ACL and MCL, a huge blow to the offense.
Are there enough playmakers on the offensive side of the ball to win against a top-tier team? The Jets were able to run the ball really effectively in the last matchup and this time should be no different. Will the commitment be there the whole game? That remains to be seen. Mornhinweg’s game plans have been hit or miss in his six weeks as offensive coordinator.
What the Steelers did to the Jets defense will probably be the blueprint for most teams the Jets face. Roethlisberger worked the middle of the field on intermediate routes with the occasional double move and it crushed the Jets secondary. Antonio Cromartie has not played to the level many have expected and he really needs to get healthy and elevate his play… fast. Rookie Dee Milliner will be back in the secondary but who knows if that’s even a good thing. At the very least, Milliner should continue to improve as he gets more reps.
The front seven overall is very good but someone outside of Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson has to get consistent pressure in passing situations (29 percent of all pressures have come from those two per ProFootballFocus.com). I’m looking at you Quinton Coples.
The Saints did a good job of getting pressure on Brady last week and the Jets will have to do more of the same. Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer have been two of the best tackles in the league, but the interior part of the line for New England has been shaky. Rex likes to bring pressure with his DB’s off the edge but I think this week we could see more linebackers and safeties try and bust it up the middle to get to Brady, especially without a big threat at tight end.
Other than that it’ll be the basics. Can Josh Cribbs change some field position in special teams? Can the Jets defense finally create some turnovers and can Geno Smith avoid giving the ball back to a depleted defense? I’m sure Belichick is going to come up with some very new looks to try and mask the injuries on defense. If the Jets can change field position and show a commitment to the run game there’s no reason the Jets can’t come away with a win.