Jets vs Cowboys Five key Matchups; Game Should be won in the Trenches
Following a bittersweet 22-16 week 1 home victory, the Jets hit the road to take on the Dallas Cowboys. A nine point underdog, Gang Green isn’t getting much respect without quarterback Aaron Rodgers under center. Even still, there a handful of matchups the Jets can win that will give them a shot at coming away with a victory.
Jets OT’s vs Micah Parsons: One could make a case for Parsons being the number one defensive player in the NFL. Consistently facing double and triple teams, Parsons has still managed to log 27.5 sacks in just 34 NFL games. Both Duane Brown and Mekhi Becton will have their hands full with Parsons as the Jets look to find a way to minimize the damage he’s able to do. Ground and pound, anyone?
Jets DT’s vs Chuma Edoga: The former Jets tackle is likely to fill in at guard once again for the injured Tyler Smith. This could present plenty of opportunities to get pressure up the middle and harass Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. Hoping to duplicate the formula from their opener, the Jets will hope that pressure leads to turnovers. Edoga could be the key to the Jets kicking in the front door.
LG Laken Tomlinson vs DT’s DeMarcus Lawrence and Johnathan Hankins: Tomlinson struggled mightily for much of 2022 and didn’t endear himself a great deal to Jets fans in the team’s opener. Tomlinson looked poor enough as a run blocker to earn the team’s worst run blocking grade from PFF at 45.0. If the Jets are going to look to run the ball on Sunday, they’ll need Tomlinson and company to be at their best. Lawrence and Hankins team up to create a formidable duo for Tomlinson to battle.
Alijah Vera-Tucker, Mekhi Becton and Jeremy Ruckert vs Dallas D-Line: If the Jets are going to play ground and pound to maintain possession and control the clock, running behind this trio is the way to get it done. After two long years the Jets finally have Vera-Tucker and Becton playing side by side. Meanwhile, Ruckert has been outstanding as a blocker, albeit in a limited sample size. The Jets should approach this game the same way Rex Ryan’s Jets prepared for the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2009 playoffs when their backs combined for 36 carries while Mark Sanchez threw just fifteen passes. And much of that should be done behind these three blockers.
Zach Wilson vs Dan Quinn: Good news and bad news for Zach Wilson. The good news? The kid has undoubtedly gotten better. The bad news? He still has a long way to go. Look for Quinn to pressure Wilson all day long to see what he can do with defenders in his face. In years past, Wilson has been a complete liability when he feels the heat. However, that’s one area of improvement we’ve seen early on. Will the Jets open things up a little bit for Wilson on Sunday, or is it more short stuff and run game all day? Quinn’s scheme could be the determining factor.
The Jets win if: They control the clock, place heavy emphasis on the run and continue to be relentless up front. This is a possibility up the middle against Edoga and center Tyler Biadasz.
The Jets lose if: Zach Wilson can’t do enough to keep the Cowboys defense honest. Look for Quinn to stack the box and sell out against the run while letting Wilson show if he can do it all himself. If Wilson hits on some big throws, Dallas will be forced to adjust. If not, it’ll be a long day for the Jets on offense.
Prediction: Cowboys 17 Jets 10
Even having said Wilson has improved from what he was last year, he still has to prove it against a top defense with a full week of practice reps under his belt. The Jets, with an attacking defense and a chip on their shoulder could easily walk in to Dallas and orchestrate a huge upset, but until we see more from Wilson, we’re picking the Cowboys.