With kickoff just a few hours away, we’ve covered a few players to keep an eye on along with a look at which players could be asked to step up as the Jets will likely be without outside linebacker Josh Martin, safety Marcus Maye and wide receiver Jermaine Kearse. Now, let’s take a look at a few key head-to-head match-ups that could play a pivotal role for Gang Green as they prepare to take on the Detroit Lions on the road.
Todd Bowles vs. Matt Patricia:
It’s the veteran head coach against another branch from the Bill Belichick tree. If the Jets are going to turn things around, they’re going to have to be better on the road. Since his arrival just a few seasons ago, Todd Bowles’ Jets have never won a home game against an opponent that finished the season with a winning record. The Jets overall record under Bowles on the road is 8-16. The 8 wins have come against teams that have finished with a combined record of 34-84, a paltry .288 winning percentage. Does Bowles protect his young QB and go with a ground and pound approach, or does he test Patricia’s secondary and let Sam Darnold air it out?
Kelvin Beachum and Brandon Shell vs Ezekiel Ansah:
Patricia may look to move his best pass rusher around along the defensive line, meaning Beachum and Shell could each get a turn to see if they can keep Sam Darnold upright and out of harm’s way.
OLB Jordan Jenkins vs RT Rick Wagner:
The Jets have to find a way to get pressure on Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and with an improve secondary, the expectation is that Jets defenders will have an extra split second to get to the quarterback. Jenkins led the Jets with 30 hits on the quarterback last season, but had just 2.5 sacks. Tonight would be a good time for Jenkins to make a play or two in the passing game.
TE Neal Sterling/Chris Herndon vs Glover Quin:
Quin is a quality cover safety who will likely be tested by Darnold and the Jets as they featured their tight ends extensively during training camp. Darnold will likely be looking their way in the red zone where the Jets will look to get their young pass catchers involved.
WR Terrelle Pryor vs Nevin Lawson:
With an array of targets to deploy for Darnold, the Jets are bound to get a Pryor/Lawson match-up at some point which would give the Jets a huge mismatch with the 6′ 5” Pryor battling the 5′ 9” Lawson. Even if it’s not Pryor, the Jets have plenty of options that could give Lawson fits in Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa and Charone Peake, all of whom are 6′ 2” or taller and all running the 40 in 4.45 or better.
ILB Darron Lee vs RB Kerryon Johnson:
Lee has struggled in coverage since being taken in the first round out of Ohio State by GM Mike Maccagnan. Johnson is a shifty rookie runner with good hands out of the backfield. Look for the Lions to test Lee early and often. If Johnson can consistently shake Lee, the Jets will have to adjust.
It’s been a long wait for Jets fans, and now the day is finally here. Real football is just hours away.