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New York Jets: How to find success against the daunting Patriots defense

New York Jets (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
New York Jets (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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The New York Jets have a tall task ahead of them when they take on the New England Patriots in Week 7. Here is how they could find success against the Patriots’ daunting defense.

The New York Jets are riding a wave of momentum after their electrifying upset of the Dallas Cowboys last week, but they will face another tough task when they take on the New England Patriots in Week 7.

The return of Sam Darnold ignited a Jets offense that had looked like the worst unit in the league in the previous three games. Darnold completed 72% of his passes and threw for 338 yards and two touchdowns as the Jets held on for a tight 24-22 victory.

But even with Darnold, finding the same success against New England is going to be incredibly difficult.

The Patriots host perhaps the best defense in the NFL through six weeks. New England’s unit currently ranks first in yards allowed per game, second in passing yards allowed, and third in rushing yards allowed.

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Bill Belichick’s defense leads the league in sack rate with an impressive 10.6% and has allowed an astonishingly low passer rating against of 42.6%. That’s the lowest total rating through the first six games of a season since the Green Bay Packers back in 1996.

In today’s NFL, that’s nearly unheard of.

You could make the argument that the team hasn’t exactly faced a whos-who of top-tier offensive talent, but that alone doesn’t make up for the sheer dominance that the Patriots have shown on defense.

Stephon Gilmore remains likely the best cornerback in the NFL and he’s followed up his incredible All-Pro season last year with an even better showing this season. Gilmore is Pro Football Focus‘ highest-graded corner and he’s allowed a stunningly low 25.57 passer rating against.

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The incredible thing, that metric isn’t even the best on his team with the underrated J.C. Jackson holding a 15.8 passer rating when targeted, per Pro Football Focus. That figure remains the highest in the NFL.

Combine their incredible secondary with what has been a dominant pass rush to this point and you have the deadliest defense in the NFL. Outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy has developed into one of the premier pass rushers in the NFL and is currently ranked in the top-10 by PFF.

They are dominant, it’s as simple as that.

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If the Jets are going to find any success on offense, it’s going to have to start with the blockers up front. The Jets offensive line has struggled this season but the unit put together their best outing of the season last week against Dallas.

They’ll be banged up with Ryan Kalil and Alex Lewis both dealing with injuries — the latter might not even play — and will be facing a Belichick front-seven known for their complicated blitz schemes.

The line must give Darnold time to throw in the pocket while also opening up some holes for the running game.

Speaking of the running game, Le’Veon Bell will be crucial in this matchup as the Patriots cornerback could very well eliminate the Jets receivers from the game.

Robby Anderson has just 59 yards in four career games against Gilmore and the former Buffalo Bills defender is playing his best football now. Even with Darnold back, it will be incredibly difficult for Anderson to get anything going.

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That’s why utilizing Bell not only in the running game but in the passing game will be important for this Jets offense.

Whether splitting him out wide at receiver, utilizing the screen game, or swinging it out to him in the flats, the Jets must do everything they can to get Bell in open space so that he could do what he does best.

The X-factor, of course, remains Darnold. The odds are stacked against him and his supporting cast isn’t what you’d want it to be, but Darnold has a special quality to him that somehow provides hope even in a seemingly hopeless situation like this.

The Jets must allow Darnold to assume control on offense and take over when necessary. New England won’t make it easy on him, but the Jets can ill-afford to play conservatively.

Take chances, take risks, and most importantly play to win the game.

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The New York Jets will face perhaps their toughest task of the season this week, but all eyes will be on their young franchise quarterback to see if he could lead them to the upset victory.

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