NY Jets: True test lies in Week 7


Oct 18, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles looks on prior to the third quarter against the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A true test lies this week for the NY Jets in hopes of finally handing a loss to the undefeated New England Patriots while also sticking to their mantra of “one game at a time” for the rest of the season.

Todd Bowles arrived in NYC this past winter to a Jet franchise in shambles and coming off a dismal 4-12 season. Woody Johnson sent a team out to scout the NFL for the individuals who could revitalize his franchise and win them some football games. From early indicators, Johnson found the right guys in the form of Bowles and general manager Mike Maccagnan.

Maccagnan made major changes to the make up of this team’s roster through free agency and provided even more talent in the NFL draft. He provided the personnel for Bowles and offensive coordinator Chan Gailey to succeed, and they have. Bowles built upon a good defense already in place and has improved the unit with the install of his preferred defensive schemes. Meanwhile, Gailey has taken one of the poorest offensive units in football last year and turned it into an adequate and at times explosive unit.

The Jets now find themselves at 4-1 after taking care of the Washington Redskins in MetLife Stadium on Sunday. The fan base is rallying behind their team and the excitement can be felt seemingly everywhere. The Jets are for real and the NFL is slowly taking notice. Picked to be somewhere near the middle of the pack this year before the season kicked off, the Jets have surprised many as they continue to rack up wins and improve from week to week.

Week 7 is the game Jet fans have been thirsting for since day one of this season. Only the most enthusiastic fans would have predicted this week’s games importance however. The real test is on the horizon for the Jets this week, they have to travel to Gillette Stadium to face off with the New England Patriots. This game is only a single contest, but it will set the tone for the rest of the season for the Jets.

Let’s take an early look at both teams and what they each bring to this Sunday’s showdown at Gillette Stadium.

Next: The surprising Jets

Oct 4, 2015; London, ENG; New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) catches an interception during the second half of the game against the Miami Dolphins at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

The surprising Jets

There is no need here to introduce you to the members of this football team. This is “our” team, and even the most nonchalant of Jet fans have learned their names. The simple fact is, the Jets are winning football games and as a result, many of the player’s names and abilities have become household knowledge in the New York/New Jersey area.

At this point in this season, Ryan Fitzpatrick has solidified his ownership of the starting job for the Jets. Fitzpatrick has played adequately, while not spectacular in his play, has done enough in four victories to put out many of the flames of a quarterback situation that brewed early on this year.

So far this season, Fitzpatrick has completed 107 passes on 171 attempts for a 62% completion rate. He hasn’t been spectacular by any means, but as we spoke about preseason, if he could exceed 60%, he’d win football games. He’s thrown for 1,177 yards in 5 games and is averaging a nice 235.4 yards per game, with a 6.9 yard average per completion. His 7 interceptions to 9 touchdown ratio is still a concern, but Fitzpatrick has established himself as a leader, and it would appear his fellow Jet players are behind him.

Chris Ivory is the leader of the Jets’ rushing attack once again this season. Ivory has played with a renewed violence to his game this early in the season. Always a hard runner for the Jets in years past, Ivory has seemed to step things up for the Jets. He’s hitting holes quicker and punishing would be tacklers with brutal finishes to his runs.

At this early point, Ivory stands at No. 4 among NFL rushers with 460 yards on 83 attempts. An improved offensive line has provided the holes for Ivory to exploit and there is no doubt that he is enjoying carrying the load. He’s averaging 115 yards per game to go along with an outstanding 5.5 yard per attempt average. He’s a beast in the run game, already posting two 100+ yard efforts on the ground, chalking up 4 touchdowns and adding 6 receptions for 62 yards. Ivory is making a very strong case for team MVP at this juncture in the season.

Oct 18, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets running back Chris Ivory (33) carries the ball as Washington Redskins safety Kyshoen Jarrett (30) defends during the third quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Marshall is the steal of the Jets’ off-season. Brought to the Jets for a seventh round pick, Marshall has proven last year’s critics wrong. Overcoming some injuries from last season, Marshall has returned to “beast mode” for the Jets this year. A healthy Marshall has been dominating opposing defenders with his size and skill set.

The man has virtually caught everything thrown his way. His stats for this year speak for themselves, 37 receptions for 511 yards, a 13.8 average per catch, 4 touchdowns and 25 first downs. Marshall is on fire, catching 7 balls of 20+ yards and averaging 102 yards per game. On Sunday he tied a franchise record with his fourth consecutive game of 100+ yards or better. Marshall will have his voice heard in the MVP conversation as well for the team!

Eric Decker has become the third piece in what some fans have begun calling the “Jet Triplets.” Decker despite being slowed with some early injuries, has proven his value to this team without question. Decker has quietly put up 18 receptions on 26 targets for 239 yards this season. He’s averaging 13.3 yards per reception and accounts for 4 touchdowns already in this early part of the season. His 12 first down grabs stands second to Marshall’s 25, but they have come seemingly at just the right time for the Jets. Decker is a clutch type receiver and teamed with Marshall, they have fans quite excited!

Darrelle Revis led the Jets’ defensive secondary into 2015 with high expectations. As the perennial Pro Bowler that Revis is, he hasn’t disappointed. He’s a leader in the secondary as well as on the defense as a whole. He’s blanketed opposing number No. 1 receivers this year and has posted 3 interceptions already in the process. Revis is a star caliber player and he gives offensive coordinators fits when planning for him. A solid tackler, Revis has posted 12 tackles this year, 8 of them being made in space and of the solo variety. Revis will need to be considered for defensive MVP honors before the end of this season.

The defensive front of Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon Harrison, Leonard Williams and Sheldon Richardson is a dominant force on any football field. The talent upfront is so undeniable, that Bowles has played much more 4-3 defensive schemes than he ever has. The defensive scheme for the Jets is normally a 3-4 dominant base defense, but with this much talent up front, it’s hard not to play it. This group is young by any measure, and will only get better as they mature as a group and take their next steps in their individual games. The Jets have 8 sacks so far early in this season, but expect that number to increase exponentially as the season moves forward.

Oct 18, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson (91) celebrates with defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) after a sack against Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (not pictured) during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

David Harris continues to lead the Jets’ linebacker corps. Harris, now 31 years of age caught some criticism from me before the start of the season, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. After struggling a bit last season, Harris returned this year back to his old form. Harris is simply everywhere this year. He’s reading the run exceptionally well, moves well to fill his gaps and proving once again that he is a tackling machine. Another defensive leader for the Jets, Harris is having a great season, already posting 38 tackles in just 5 games. In the process Harris has sacked quarterbacks twice, and is credited with two forced fumbles as well.

Obviously, just a few of the contributors that are responsible for the early successes of the Jets. This has been a team effort across the board to achieve their impressive 4-1 record. Many others are also contributing, not to mention guys like Buster Skrine, Marcus Williams, Chris Owusu and Devin Smith for their early work. Guys like Rob Carpenter and Nick Mangold are keys as well. The Jets will bring a lot to the field against the Patriots and I believe it just might prove out to be enough to upset our AFC East divisional rivals.

Next: The undefeated Patriots

Oct 18, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady heads to the locker room at halftime against the Indianapolis Colts during the NFL game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The undefeated Patriots

The Jets will be traveling north to face off against the Patriots in their first of two meetings within their division this week. Games within the division are always critical and this one is no exception. The Jets have played fairly well this season, but will face their biggest challenge of the young season by far.

The Jets stand alone in second place to the Patriots first place in the AFC East. The Pats are undefeated at this point however, and if the Jets are serious about displacing them as AFC East champions, they will need to win both face-to-face matchups this season. So what do the Patriots bring?

Tom Brady of course is their leader. As much as Jet fans dislike Brady, he remains one of the best of all-time at his position. Brady possesses everything you want from a quarterback. He’s a leader, possesses good size, excellent intelligence levels and most of all, he remains teachable.

So far this season, he has proven to be embarrassingly good, possibly being driven by the off season controversies surrounding his career, Brady came back to the NFL with a purpose! Brady is lighting NFL defenses up this year once again, already completing 139 throws for 1,699 yards. He’s virtually unstoppable, throwing at a 70.6 completion rate and averaging 339.8 yards a game. To his credit he’s thrown for 14 touchdowns and has yet to be picked off.

Behind Brady, the Patriots bring a fairly potent run game with them to the field each week. The combination of LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis has proven it can get the job done so far this season. Blount has run for 249 yards on 49 attempts and has accounted for 4 touchdowns on his own this season.

Couple that with Lewis and his 40 attempts for 201 yards and 2 touchdowns, one can easily assume the Patriots’ offense isn’t afraid to run the ball at their opponents either. Both Blount and Lewis average near 5.0 yards per carry individually, and the combination has challenged opposing defenses all year.

Oct 18, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass to running back LeGarrette Blount (29) in the second half during the NFL game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, Brady and his stable of running backs wouldn’t have been nearly successful if it were not for it’s crop of receivers. This year as in almost every year in the past decade or so, the Patriots have a plethora of talent in their receiving game. Julian Edelman has led the way this year with 40 receptions on 57 targets for 449 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Edleman is averaging 11.2 yards per catch and has hauled in 11 first down receptions as well. Alongside Edelman, the Pats bring their “Jet Killer” to the field in the form of Rob Gronkowski. An annual nemesis for the Jets, Gronkowski has established himself as an elite talent over the years at tight end.

This year is no exception, with the big guy already posting 23 receptions on just 38 targets for 425 yards and 5 touchdowns. Gronkowski is averaging a whopping 18.5 yards per catch and 85.0 yards per game. The Patriots like to use Lewis extensively in their pass offense as well and the running back has responded with 25 receptions on 36 targets for 256 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, the Patriots have held their own. Featuring such names as Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Chandler Jones and Jabaal Sheard, the Pats have accumulated 19 sacks early on in this season. The Patriots’ defense has done its job at every turn this season, keeping opposing offenses off balance and off the field, so their offense can win them football games.

The Patriots’ defensive secondary while shaky early, has responded fairly well to losing star quality players to free agency last season. Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon both lead the team with a pair of interceptions to their credit, while Devin McCourty continues to play good defense for his team. The Patriots may not have the big names in their secondary this year, but what they have, has provided enough defense to stymie some fairly good football teams.

Next: Final thoughts

Dec 21, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws a pass against the New York Jets during the game at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Final thoughts

The Jets will face their toughest opponent yet this week when they face off against the Patriots. This one is on the road, only increasing the difficulty of the task at hand. Both of these teams are very good football teams and this game may prove pivotal to both teams in the end. Just the simple fact that the Patriots are in first place of the AFC East and undefeated on the year, makes this a must win for the Jets if they have dreams of winning their division. A loss here, while not the end of the world, would likely set the Jets back a bit in their aspirations.

The Jets have the talent on this roster to beat the Patriots in my opinion. They will need to bring their “A” game across the board and play mistake free football if they want to challenge the Patriots. They will need to be in Brady’s face on every snap and keep him guessing in his back pedal. The Jets’ offense will need to establish long scoring drives and keep Brady off the field. This game is winnable, I’ll be making some predictions a bit later in the week, but I can see the possibility of our Jets knocking the Patriots from the undefeated ranks over the weekend.

That’s my early look at both teams. The other writers and myself here at The Jet Press will continue to bring you our outlooks for this game as we get closer to this huge showdown. As always, I’d like to hear your thoughts on our football team, so please leave me a comment below and Let’s Talk Jet Football!!

Next: Time to make a run in the AFC East

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