Patriots vs. Jets: 3 keys to victory for Gang Green
The New York Jets are building playoff aspirations at a surprising 3-2. We’ll find out on Sunday if they’re a contender or pretender.
Week 6 is here and it’s an important one for the New York Jets. They’ll take on their division rival New England Patriots in a meeting that has significant implications. The winner takes full control of the AFC East at 4-2 and the loser takes a backseat in the playoff picture. When Gang Green hosted New England in 2016, they lost a 22-17 rock fight. It’s possible we see another grinder.
The Jets downed Cleveland 17-14 in Week 5. John Morton’s offense didn’t produce like they did against Miami and Jacksonville. They compiled a mere 212 yards, 4.2 yards per play and 14 first downs. Todd Bowles‘ defense allowed an atrocious 419 yards, six yards per play and 22 first downs. New York dodged bullets on three Browns turnovers and two missed field goals.
The Patriots won in similar fashion in Tampa Bay 19-14. Their offense did have over 400 yards and Dan Patricia’s defense made strides, although Buccaneers kicker Nick Folk was an absolute disaster. The former Jet went 0/3 on kicks, one of which was a 31-yard yank in the fourth quarter. If he converts on two of those three, New England is 2-3.
The Patriots have the clear advantage on paper, however, they aren’t the same team we’re accustomed to watching. The Jets are different in a positive way. They have nothing to lose in this year or game as just about everyone has counted them out. Let’s look at the three things they have to do to come away victorious.
Next: 3. Contain Rob Gronkowski
3. Contain Rob Gronkowski
It doesn’t matter how good or bad a defense is at covering the tight end. Rob Gronkowski is virtually unstoppable. He has 20 catches for 318 yards and two touchdowns despite not being fully healthy. The All-Pro is dealing with a thigh injury that held him out of Week 5, but he expects to suit up after logging consecutive limited practices.
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This matchup has to leave Bowles worried because of how poorly they defended the tight end in Cleveland. Jamal Adams was nowhere near as physical as he was in the first four weeks. David Njoku and Seth Devalve thrived with Kevin Hogan under center. Njoku finished with three catches for 48 yards and a score while DeValve had three receptions for 24 yards.
For the Jets to contain Gronkowski, Adams will have to play at an elite level. He got bullied by Njoku on the touchdown catch last week. Gronk will do that on every snap if he’s given the opportunity. Exploring double teams isn’t a bad idea either. Darron Lee underneath with Adams over the top can work on second and third down. Bowles has to do whatever it takes here.
Next: 2. Establish a run game
2. Establish a run game
Gang Green has to run the ball more efficiently. They rushed for an abysmal 34 yards on 18 attempts against Cleveland. Against Jacksonville, they had 256 yards on 32 carries. Of course 144 came on the long Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire touchdowns, but the other 112 on 30 carries is respectable. What happened in Week 5 isn’t.
Powell’s status doesn’t make this situation any better. The veteran tweaked his calf in last week’s game and hasn’t practiced since. Matt Forte is fresh off his turf toe injury and practiced in full on Thursday, so he’ll dress for the first time since Week 3. If he were still hurt, McGuire and Travaris Cadet would be the only healthy backs on the roster.
Teams have proven thus far that New England is vulnerable against the run. They’ve allowed 124.2 yards per game, which ranks 24th in the league. The Week 1 Kareem Hunt show isn’t an outlier. Mark Ingram, Lamar Miller, Jonathan Stewart and Doug Martin each had their fair share of success. You have to keep this Patriots offense off the field. This is the best way to do so.
Next: 1. Get after Tom Brady
1. Get after Tom Brady
As we’ve seen over the past 16 years, applying pressure on Tom Brady is how you beat him. He picks apart any zone and he adjusts to all-out blitzes. The five and six-man rushes have to get there or you’re dead in the water. You stop Brady’s throws by not letting him make any. Kansas City perfectly executed this in the season opener.
In that game, he was sacked three times and completed 16 of 36 passes. In the other four weeks, he had all day to deliver throws. When you take Week 1 away from his stat line, he has a 73.6 completion percentage and 358.75 yards per game. Those numbers are robotic and it’s all due to the time he has in the pocket.
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Must Read: The time is now for Jets to make a statement against Patriots
Muhammad Wilkerson is in line to miss the contest, so Leonard Williams and Kony Ealy have to step up. Williams has yet to record a sack and hasn’t graded as well as he did in 2016 on Pro Football Focus (73.2). Ealy is coming off a shoulder injury which kept him out of Week 5. If those two can’t have their breakout outing, Brady will have one of his own. Jordan Jenkins and David Bass can’t do it all.